Apparently, in Harry Potter spell-speak, that word means to “Conjure the Dark Mark”. I don’t know what that refers to in Harry Potterland, nor do I give a crap, but I like it. I think I may have a website called that. I’m a dour sod at times. Dark Mark. That’s me. Dark Mark Pepper.
Aside from that, I cannot stand anything to do with bloody Harry Potter. I think I’m in a minority of about five globally with that opinion, but, hey, I’m Dark Mark – I’m allowed to be contentious.
It’s not jealousy. Of course I’d like to have penned such a mega-successful series, but that’s not it. Strangely, having spent many of my former years living in a fantasy land where my dreams of becoming a famous actor and/or writer were always about to come true, I just don’t “get” the Fantasy genre. Simple as.
In fact, to be honest, it worries me that it is the mentality of so many adults that they can get ridiculously excited by a children’s story – which Harry Potter is. I feel the same way about the Lord of the Rings series, and every Star Wars film beyond the original three. Ooooo, a cloak of invisibility; time for a change of pants.
Nope, I am left cold. And, yes, I have seen nearly all of them (I have a daughter whose age makes her naturally inclined to enjoy such escapism), and, yes, I have seen a couple of them on the big screen. Still utterly bored to tears. Or sleep.
My last post entitled “Floating Boats” was all about correctly gearing the submission of your completed novel to the right agent in the right way. But how on earth do you divine what may or may not be a decent idea for a novel before you even set one word on your blank screen?
Write what you know. That’s always the advice, isn’t it? But, then, what did JK Rowling know about wizards and spells? Did she train to be a witch for ten years? Don’t think so. Some genres demand that it’s all just made up. You don’t need to have been a hitman to write a thriller; or a soldier to write about war; or a cowboy to write a Western; or a doctor to write a medical drama. Genuine experience helps, no doubt, but there’s nothing you need to know that can’t be found on the internet. Research, then the rest is from your imagination. If you can’t do that, then perhaps you’re not cut out to be a novelist.
By the way, I researched online to find “Morsmorde”. I Googled for Harry Potter spells, and, sure enough, some sad bastard had a website devoted to them. I was surprised to see that “Conjunctivitis” is the spell for bad eyesight. That’s not very imaginative, is it, JK? Then again, now that Harry Potter and his cohorts are sexually active, it would be fun to see “Syphilis” being zapped out from a wand. I heard ages ago that Potter may die in the last episode. Maybe he’s zapped with a terminal case of “Chlamydia Drippydickis”. One lives in hope.
Back to the plot … I found it interesting following my last blog that only my faithful comrade-in-arms George posted a response. You’re not telling me that he’s the only one who visits this site who’s writing a novel. But I do understand the reluctance to comment. It’s a big thing to admit you’re writing a novel. For one thing, everyone then starts to ask how it’s coming along, every damned time you see them. It’s a little embarrassing when you really aren’t doing anything to move it forward after trumpeting your ambitious intentions to the world.
“I am going to climb Mount Everest.”
“How’s the training going?”
“I’ve been up into the attic twice.”
Rather than write what you know, probably the better advice is to write what you like, with the proviso that what you like is not just also liked by that strange group you meet up with every Wednesday night. You cannot assume that other people will find interesting what you find interesting. You must be confident that you have identified a genuine and significant target audience. But don’t force it. Like me and Fantasy, you may not be predisposed to certain genres, and there’s not much point struggling to write in a genre you don’t like, because the passion won’t be there.
You must be fiercely realistic when you settle on a concept. Not easy when so many arty types are seemingly allergic to reality, but you have to try. Even if you are the best writer in the world, a poor concept will most likely doom you. On the other hand, plenty of successful novels have been written by very mediocre writers who made sure their concept was sound.
Writing a novel is a huge commitment that takes time, effort and sacrifice. If you are going to do it, at least give yourself a fair shot. The Harry Potters of this world are few and far between. A kids’ book that took the entire world by storm is not going to happen again in our lifetime. Not sure it’s ever happened before.
And then don’t forget to start writing. Don’t forget that bit. Thinking you’re going to write a novel, and spending months and years defining it in your head and in bullet points, is not the same.