Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More on 'bad writing'

I've never understood what on earth people are talking about (and there are many of them) when they call J. K. Rowling a 'bad writer'. And now that I've read this (hat-tip to my FaceBook buddy Naomi Parry), I understand it even less.

Look at the exquisitely skilful, careful structure of this piece, the way it dances between its developing argument and its vivid concrete examples. Look at the semi-transparent fabric of reasonableness softening, but not extinguishing, the righteous anger. Look at the humour. Look at the precision of the word-choice and the careful crafting of the sentence structure.

I can only assume that when people say she doesn't write well, what they're referring to is the fact that she writes simply and clearly, using easy, familiar words that represent the way her characters think and speak. It's almost as though she were writing fiction about children for children. D'oh.

This, however, is non-fiction for grown-ups. Go and have a read.

15 comments:

Peter said...

Yes, it is a great piece. The comments are revealing - she has made someone very uncomfortable!

Elisabeth said...

I put it down to a certain level of envy.

How could she be so successful, when as with much good writing, it all looks so simple.

Ahh but to have such an imagination and an ability to put it down into words. I agree we can only admire her.

Ampersand Duck said...

I agree, that was a really good piece of writing, although I've never doubted her skills (apart from her ability to write verse: anything rhyming in HP always made me cringe, she just can't get the lines to scan properly for some reason).

And I agree with Peter: the comments under the article are very interesting!

Armagnac Daddy said...

That is one of the best articles I have ever read.

I'm not that into Potter, found it a little overrated, the themes a bit conservative. I'd rather read more non-fiction from Ms Rowling....

Legal Eagle said...

Yes, a great piece, thanks for pointing me to it.

Casey said...

"Look at the exquisitely skilful, careful structure of this piece, the way it dances between its developing argument and its vivid concrete examples. Look at the semi-transparent fabric of reasonableness softening, but not extinguishing, the righteous anger. Look at the humour."

Actually I haven't got to her yet. I'm still enjoying you. I thought this para of yours was a complete pleasure.

Alright. I will go read the piece now.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Shucks.

*shuffles feet*

Lucy Sussex said...

Make Abbott read this!

I've never said she was a bad writer, although I do find her very derivative. But this piece is precisely the sort of thing that we ought to have more of in our ozzie papers.

Lucy

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Make Abbott read this indeed.

I know a lot of people regard her writing as derivative, but I have always thought that aspect of the Potter books was deliberate and loving pastiche, a kind of homage to the 'school story' genre plus various classics, rather than anything else. If I were still in academe I might write a book -- um -- apply for a grant to write a book about the Harry Potter saga as a contemporary classic of postmodernism.

Frances said...

Kerryn: I wonder if you saw the really unpleasant article about her posted on the ABC's "Unleashed" section yesterday?

http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2873982.htm

Fortunately, she had plenty of readers defending her.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Hm. Well, someone is certainly 'clunky and confused'.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Then I went to Reason.com, of which Moynihan is the editor, and discovered that its slogan is 'Free minds and free markets'. Quel surprise!

Mitzi G Burger said...

That's a great article by Rowling. I do keep meaning the three or so Potter books I haven't got to yet - and this article has reminded me why!

David Irving (no relation) said...

The last line says it all (and pretty much encapsulates my attitude as well):

"I’ve never voted Tory before ... and they keep on reminding me why. "

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Absolutely.