Thursday, February 22, 2018

Write On: How J.K. Rowling Writes a Mystery (Video Essay)

You might think that, as a fan of mysteries, I’d be big on Sherlock Holmes. And you’d be wrong.

Something about Holmes always ate away at me, even when I was young. I thought it had something do to with the way Watson was often portrayed as a blithering idiot. I could never understand why these two were even in each other’s orbit, other than as a quick and easy way to make Holmes look that much smarter and cooler.

(As a side note, this is also the same reason why 1988’s Without a Clue with Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley is so fantastic. It’s definitely worth checking out.)

Then, sometime around high school, I got around to actually reading the Sherlock Holmes stories and discovered what it was that ate at me: They’re a cheat. The readers never have a chance to deduce anything for themselves. Instead, we have world-class know-it-all Sherlock Holmes tell readers everything before the readers are ever shown anything. 

Apparently J.K. Rowling felt the same way, too, because she approaches the mysteries in her Harry Potter novels in a completely different way. If you’re like me, you never really thought of the Harry Potter stories as mysteries, but Sage Hagen of Just Write does and takes a deep dive into how Rowling writes mysteries in this video essay:

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