24 August 2016

Books I Love: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
J.K. Rowling
Mary GrandPré
I first read this book
during graduate school in 1999

While I love all the Harry Potter books, my favorite is the third book in the series. This is the book where all the pieces fit together so perfectly that it feels like the world's most complicated jigsaw puzzle. It also expands the universe of the story Rowling is telling as we learn more about Harry's history and see the full scope of his loss.

It introduces us to Dementors, utterly terrifying creations that are the personification of depression. What I find most fascinating about Dementors is that the best treatment for an encounter with them is chocolate. Of course it is! Chocolate is the best cure for anything.

But what truly inspires me about this book is the plot. I do not possess Rowling's skill at plotting, and I am envious. Every piece of this story falls perfectly into place, creating one whole story while still feeling like part of a larger work.

Harry? Is that you?
photo by Sara K Joiner
Rowling is a master at doling out clues in little bits and pieces throughout the course of the series. There are clues in the second book that don't become important until the sixth! How does Rowling do this? I've seen that plot outline for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (the longest of the books), and it absolutely terrifies me.

I am not a plotter. When I write, I have a beginning (which usually changes over the course of numerous drafts) and an ending. I also have what I call "things that need to happen" throughout the course of the book. In some cases, because I generally write historical fiction, I might have a specific order in which those things must happen, but sometimes I can move them around as I need.

I don't outline. I feel like once I've outlined a story, before I've finished a first draft, I've told it, and I no longer have an interest in writing it.

When I read something like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or any of the other Harry Potter books, it challenges me. I'll never be able to plot a book like J.K. Rowling, but I can keep trying.

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