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How Long Should An Author Get To Fill In The Blanks?

October 20, 2007
I love Harry Potter and I recognise that it is J.K. Rowling’s story, however….

When I studied Fiction Writing in College, I heard about authors whose characters popped out of nowhere and how once the story started flowing out of them they were in sort of a trance and felt as if someone else was controlling their bodies. Supposedly there was no thinking about these characters or the plot, it all just materialised. I understand this, as much as I can without actually ever having experienced it. My stories, at least the ones that are not directly related to a personal experience have to be cooked up, formulated. Methodically, I filled in the blanks, such as “have I covered mood yet” and “is the character developed enough,” etc. Obviously, I am not destined for literary greatness. Nevertheless, I must ask as an ardent reader, as an avid reader when does the author’s story stop and, the reader’s experience begins. I don’t care if Dumbledore is gay. Actually at this point, it seems trivial, even contrived. Okay he was gay if you say so. So what. Is he gay because he was portrayed as asexual? Using this guideline, does it mean Professor Minerva McGonagall is gay also. What other revelations will we find out and what is with the need to have a definitive answer, a fact, anyway?

Perhaps Rowling is having to deal with the reality that it is now over and is trying to hold on to every piece she can. I can understand. If it were me, I would need to mourn officially. Nonetheless, as a reader I would like to feel free to have and make my own analysis and deductions. Therefore, I must ask, when is it time for an author to stop filling in the blanks.

  1. Chris permalink
    October 20, 2007 11:07 pm

    I think she made up “this bomb” to drop, since her thunder was stolen by someone leaking the ending before the release date:)

    Next thing you know, someone will be saying a cartoon character, I dunno….say one of the teletubbies, is gay!

    Huh? You don’t say…..

    (Who is neither gay nor fictional last time I checked)

  2. Robbie permalink
    October 21, 2007 7:06 am

    I say when they die. At that point in time all of the literary critics will rush in to fill in all the other blanks that us plain ‘ol readers are too stupid to decide for ourselves.

    But, I don’t really care if he is gay. I’m not vested in the story because I haven’t read any of the books. Shhhhh…

  3. CountryDew permalink
    October 21, 2007 4:34 pm

    It didn’t matter much to me if Dumbledore was gay. Why? Because it was completely irrelevant to the story. I think, that if I were analyzing H.P. for a dissertation or something, I would reject outright anything from the author that wasn’t in the books.

    On the other hand, I must point out that if any other book author made a similar statement about a character, I seriously doubt that it would have made headlines. Most likely you wouldn’t have even known about it. I mean, can you see similar headlines if Janet Evanovich said Stephanie Plum was a lesbian? I can’t.

  4. momo permalink
    October 22, 2007 1:08 am

    Here’s how my daughter and I first heard about this:

    I understand what you’re saying, and on some level I agree with it. The reading experience is between me and the book.

    But in this particular case, with all the hoo hah about what was left out of the movies, all the fan fiction, all the Potter-mania, which she mocked in her books already, and especially with the people who are practically making a career out of attacking JK Rowling’s books as promoting bad values, bla bla bla, I think she decided to thumb her nose at the fundies, and give some of her young fans something to think about. My daughter had a laugh about it.

  5. Imaginary permalink
    April 24, 2010 11:28 am

    Dumbledore being gay was relevant to the Grindlewald relationship. It’s why Albus put up with his shit for so long, let the genocide go on for about 5 years. And while I don’t think it would have hurt the story to put the dynamic IN THE BOOK, you must remember that a femail writer can only get away with so much. After all, the reason she chose “J.K. Rowling” as her penname was because illiterate boys wouldn’t read a book penned by a womyn.

    Persunally, I think it’s a good thing there is a queer character in the books at all (that have been mentioned, unlike Remus and Sirius). It’s not radical, but just hearing the backlash shows that there is still a lot of problems associated with having a gay character. I think the reason it wasn’t put in early was so people could get attached to Albus before finding out that homosexuality is not disgusting. The readers are then forced to some extent to examine their homophobia.

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