Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby bcomet » 24 Jan 2011, 11:23

I read the Harry Potter series at the same time with my daughter and delighted in it, even read the series a second time top to finish.

But it has been a while...

So, after the recent Harry Potter week Nathan had on his blog, I thought I would reread Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to study the successful writing.

Um... Wow, there are so many dialogue tags, adverbs, adjectives and
Spoiler:
Harry is in such a surly mood (angry, frustrated, self-sorry, jealous, up-in-peoples' faces, misunderstood, alone, etc.)that I am finding it hard to feel sympathetic with his character in this book this time around. He is in such a bad mood.
And well, the blood writing-punishment of Professor Dolores Umbridge is so gruesome. (I just finished the chapter after the first detention.)
...

I wonder if any of you other writers went back and reread this one? Am I alone in my response to the writing? Or are there others who, after the story, were left thinking that, apart from its connection to the rest of the series, that this one is struggling?
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby Sommer Leigh » 24 Jan 2011, 11:36

I love the Harry Potter series, but I'll be honest that this is my absolute least favorite of all the books. I struggled to finish it and I am pretty sure I skimmed a lot of the end because I just wanted it to be over. It was a good 300 pages too long and I just hated the constant bad mood and attitude Harry has. Halfway through the book I was ready to scratch my eyes out from all the "angrily" things Harry did. I had little tolerance for it.

It is the only book I didn't enjoy from the series. My favorite of all the books will always be the first one.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby polymath » 24 Jan 2011, 13:17

I sense The Order of the Phoenix illustrates how tough it was for Rowling to write, keeping up the level of craft and aesthetics she had up to that point. I guess she'd grown weary of it all, but was under obligations to wrap it all up. She passed through the wall though. Read from that perspective, it's an informative reread.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby Watcher55 » 24 Jan 2011, 13:43

I think what Rowling was trying to do in ORDER OF THE PHOENIX was to portray the surly behavior of most fourteen fifteen year olds, complicated by what happened in the cemetery and the fact that people either don’t believe him or have abandoned him. I think where she came up short was that she didn’t successfully connect Harry’s behavior with his burdens of alienation. I didn’t get a sense of what he was going through and he came off as a little b-hole.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby bcomet » 24 Jan 2011, 15:15

Sommer Leigh wrote:I love the Harry Potter series, but I'll be honest that this is my absolute least favorite of all the books. I struggled to finish it and I am pretty sure I skimmed a lot of the end because I just wanted it to be over. It was a good 300 pages too long and I just hated the constant bad mood and attitude Harry has. Halfway through the book I was ready to scratch my eyes out from all the "angrily" things Harry did. I had little tolerance for it.

It is the only book I didn't enjoy from the series. My favorite of all the books will always be the first one.


Well, this makes me feel better. Harry's issues are a bit heavy in this and although I too am a big fan of Rowling, this one takes work, and, intended or not, is more tedious to get thorough as well as darker than the others.

I have decided to go back to one of the earlier ones to "read from a writer's view" and let Phoenix rest. But the funny thing is that I never saw all those dialogue tags or lys before on the first two read-throughs. Obviously they were no deterrent to her reading fans either. But I do find it interesting how much I've grown (and now see) as a writer that I didn't "notice" before.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby Falen » 24 Jan 2011, 15:39

huh, that's interesting. I LOVE order of the Phoenix. It just barely squeaks out as my favorite ahead of Prisoner of Azkaban. I love how much time they spend with Sirius, i love to hate umbridge and i LOVE the twins in this one.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby Sleeping Beauty » 24 Jan 2011, 20:45

I'm agreeing with Falon. Phoenix is my favourite of the series. The dialogue tags don't bother me in the slightest - expunging them all is one of the few writerly "rules" that I disagree with.
Harry's attitude was pretty difficult to comprehend at times - how can you be so mean to Hermione when she is the very best friend in the world! - but it didn't draw me out of the story. After all that he'd been through, and the things he was still going through, his anger and frustration seemed realistic.
Also, Umbridge! I've never come across a more universally hated fictional character. A huge portion of the fandom hates her more than Voldemort. Me included.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby polymath » 24 Jan 2011, 21:04

One aspect for writers reading as writers to consider is whether a narrative point of view and its attachment narrative voice fit the target audience. Adverbs and adjectives, dialogue attribution including actions, passive voice alternating subject-object emphasis, and in general what I know of as women's language are common in middle grade and early young adult literature because it's the voice of mothers speaking to children. Man children might outgrow it, woman children might too; however, the subtle differences between men's language and women's language survive into early adulthood and beyond. The field of literature is populated by differences in gendered voice.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby Fenris » 25 Jan 2011, 14:58

Sleeping Beauty wrote:Also, Umbridge! I've never come across a more universally hated fictional character. A huge portion of the fandom hates her more than Voldemort. Me included.

Voldemort at least had a reason for being evil...from his perspective. Plus we got to see the reasoning behind it. Umbridge just took pleasure in being a bitch, with no explanation. She just was, for no good reason.

My opinion is that there were trouble areas in all the books, though the first one was by far the best. For some reason I really hated the sixth one. It just seemed so...flat. There was a whole lot of stuff going on, but no one seemed to take much interest in anything. There wasn't a whole lot of focus on any one thing (though I did like the Felix Felicis arc). The fifth book comes in a close second as my least favorite, though I didn't have a problem with understanding why Harry was being so angsty. He was just angsty to everyone who didn't deserve it. I will agree the twins were wonderful in that one, though.

I think my favorite by far was the first, just because of the sheer whimsy. Everything was bright, cheery, and magical, and though the real world is by no means like that (in Harry's world or our own), it's always a nice change to read something lighthearted. Especially considering the darker turn things began to take after the fourth one. The first book was easy to laugh with, just a kind of jovial nature, like "Poof! Aha! I've got your hat! And now your book's a rabbit!" I'm not saying it wasn't serious in its own right, but compared to the later books it's almost surprising they're part of the same tale. Maybe it's just because of Harry's utter awe of magic at that time, before he became aware of all the limitations and ways it could be used for evil. It was less "What can we do?" than "What can't we do?"
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby Guardian » 25 Jan 2011, 15:31

My opinion is that there were trouble areas in all the books, though the first one was by far the best.

The first had the magic and as Harry evolved and slowly grown up book by book, this magic is slowly vanished and everything turned to grim and dark. While this transition is part of the human evolution and it's highly realistic, in some of the novels this change was too drastic. Order of the Phoenix is the best example (Yet, it's one of my other favorites.).

As bcomet written Harry was angry, frustrated, self-sorry, jealous, up-in-peoples' faces, misunderstood, alone, etc... The signs of a teenager and it were a realistic presentation. In the first Harry Potter, Harry was a boy. The story had a magic, because it's revealed a world what about many readers dreamt when they was a child. And Harry was the one who attached us to that world. But in Order of the Phoenix this magic was replaced with cruel realism. It was good and I also liked Order of the Phoenix, but if I compare it with the first HP novel, it wasn't balanced properly and there wasn't enough transition between the boy HP and the teenager HP.

Harry Potter #1 - Gave our dreams back, our lost childhood
Harry Potter #4 - Faced us with our own rebelling teenager nature

Both was a mirror in front of the reader, but the mirror image shown a different reflection in each novel.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby Louise Curtis » 25 Jan 2011, 16:03

All the Harry Potter books are good, but there are problems:

1. The characters are stereotypes - Harry is so classically heroic (mistreated orphan turns out selfless, brave, and vital to world safety - while also being annoyingly angsty), Ron is such a sidekick/comic relief, and Hermione is such a "Girl Who is Smart". They remind me of sitcom characters ("the nerd, the jock, the dumb one. . .") or of the classic British tales - Enid Blighton or Nancy Drew - with the list of characters that can be described by one adjective. The dialogue tags also remind me of older books - they make a book feel mass-produced (by the author I mean, not the printer).

They're not awfully done (we still care about the characters), just not as brilliantly written as the joy of the world.

2. Harry is the best example ever of when a writer should have stopped showing, and started telling. Imagine how much better (and shorter) the books would have been with a few, "Harry went to bed feeling like the whole world was against him" *skip to when he's in a better mood* and "Then they argued, but no-one won" *skip to when they stop fighting each other and are doing useful stuff again*.

3. The books went from fun to dark too fast and too hard. Which is okay for adults, but somewhat unfair on millions of younger fans.

Still good books overall.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby sierramcconnell » 26 Jan 2011, 10:38

I think I read the 1-4, it was right when he turned into a jerk and everything got dark that I stopped, because it lost it's magic. I like books that take me away from my life of crap and depression, not pull me right into a world where someone is going through crap and depression, too.

Uhm...books are supposed to be an escape, not a reminder okaythxbai.

So yeah, I liked it to that point. A little dark is okay, but it went from being light and cheery and fun to WTH is this? And it wasn't fun anymore, so I just stopped.

And everyone's like, "Oh, but that's when it got really good."

"Uhm, if that's when it got really good, what the heck is wrong with you?"

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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby Matthew MacNish » 28 Jan 2011, 11:35

I have to respectfully disagree. OOTP is my second favorite, after POA. I do hear you about the length, but I think that Rowling is so good at plot twists and keeping the pacing and tension flowing that it never began to drag, at least not for me, but then again I've only read it twice. I do agree that Harry was a bit of a prat at certain points, but I think it fits the character, based on his age, his experience, what he was going through ... it works for me. I mean I know I was certainly an ass at that age, with only normal teenage BS to blame.

I think it also makes him that much more of a believable character. If he had handled all that pain and suffering without a little bit of selfish reaction, I would have probably found myself doubting it. Or maybe not, I do really love Harry Potter so much so that I probably put it on an ivory pedestal a little. Like Tolkien. I have been known to do that with certain stories and certain books.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby maryj59 » 31 Jan 2011, 07:12

Actually, I liked Phoenix best of the books because I thought Harry was at last starting to grow up, react realistically to his horrible circumstances, and see shades of grey. It seemed to me that Rowling might be aiming for moral depth and complexity in this book. However, Half Blood Prince bored me much of the time, and [iDeathly Hallows[/i] was worse.

Basically, as Jodel from aol at the Red Hen website has said, Rowling is a fine storyteller, and that's how she got so many readers invested in her story. But she really isn't a fine stylist or craftswoman, especially in the last three or four books. The first three are more tightly planned and written. I'm inclined to agree with Jodel. Rowling is immensely talented, but she seems to have either lost interest or lost control of her story in the later books.

Of course, I know others will disagree with me!

BTW, I'm a newbie here. Thanks for the blog and forum, Nathan.
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Re: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Postby bcomet » 04 Feb 2011, 15:00

I just finished rereading Goblet of Fire.

Along the way, I had a moment when I didn't think I could get past all the dialogue tags. There were so many.

But then, at exactly that point, the story grabbed me, I was hooked. What a ride!

So, that's the thing: the story vs. the parts of the writing that, well, you know.
But for me, story wins.

Goblet of Fire, I think, is my fav. HP book.
So, now, with this so fresh in my head, I plan to venture, one more time into TOOTP, which was so hard for me to dive into without at least visiting a more cheerful and hopeful HP first, even if he is always up to his ears in trouble.
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