Why Open with the Dursleys?

Joined
Oct 16, 2016
Messages
6
#41
In studying what publishers and agents are looking for for my own novel. As well as the openings of other novels. Her opening makes no sense. The way she opened the book may also be part of the reason why she got so many rejections. She just didn't start with any main characters. Which is what you should be doing according to most industry standards. Instead she spent a lot of the first chapter focusing entirely on Vernon Dursley and his basic thoughts about magic. It seems to me that she spent more time with the Dursley's in Chapter one than during any other part of the entire series. Then, in seemingly proper fashion, she goes ahead and starts each Harry Potter book with him being at the Dursley's and they have little to do with the rest of the story/mythology.

In my opinion the movie had a better beginning.
I think she knew she was playing a VERY long game, and had the confidence in her work to start not with main characters.

Given she's now making FIVE Fantastic Beasts films...yeah, she was seeing the series for what it could be WAY down the track.
 

Eli Grey

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2016
Messages
49
Location
Philadelphia, PA
#42
I think it's a good idea to open with the Dursleys. They're not wizards but they are in some shape or form enemies of the wizarding world. One thing I will say on the Dursleys is that I didn't fully buy Petunia's dislike of her sister or harry because they were wizards. It was pretty generic in my opinion.
 

aThenian

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2013
Messages
415
#43
All I know is I read the opening chapter to a nine year old who was adamant that they had no interest in Harry Potter, would hate Harry Potter, wanted nothing to do with Harry Potter, and they were hooked. So she was obviously doing something right.

I've always found the Dursleys very Dahl-esque in comparison to the other characters (interested to see @Hex compare them to Dahl also) - i.e. more grotesque, and with a lot of emphasis on their unpleasant physical characteristics - e.g. Dudley being fat. Actually I have more of a gripe with the way she focuses on Dudley's weight than the messages the book sends about child abuse. Myself, I'd suggest children/teens that age don't want to read a book with a "message" that they should ask adults for help - I think they want the protagonist to work their own salvation: Harry frequently outwits and humiliates the Dursleys, so I'd imagine that is actually quite empowering.
 

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
Joined
Apr 9, 2016
Messages
1,516
#44
Yeah, there's very clear echoes of Roald Dahl.

All I can say is the intro works for me. There's a great voice to it. I guess you could say she's very swiftly defining the Wizarding world by showing everything its not, but the main thing for me is that after that first chapter I trust her to entertain me.
 

Caledfwlch

I am not a Geek, I am a Level 22 Warrior!
Joined
Apr 29, 2011
Messages
626
Location
Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Principality of Wales
#45
I think it's a good idea to open with the Dursleys. They're not wizards but they are in some shape or form enemies of the wizarding world. One thing I will say on the Dursleys is that I didn't fully buy Petunia's dislike of her sister or harry because they were wizards. It was pretty generic in my opinion.
Petunia doesn't really hate her Sister, she was just bitterly jealous as a child when Lily turned out to be "special" and got the Hogwarts invite - in the book, Petunia writes to Dumbledore asking to be allowed to go as well, and gets a very nice letter back from the great man apologising and explaining that she cannot. Then she met Vernon who encouraged her to dislike anything special - when she told him her Sister was a Witch she was terrified he would dump her. I don't think she hates Harry either, its a similar deal to Snape I reckon, looking at Harry reminds them both of Lily & James, with the whole, spitting image of James but with Lily's eyes thing.

There is a wonderful deleted scene from Deathly Hallows Part 1, and I can't believe they didnt include it, its about time we got some sort of Extended Edition "Directors Cut" like we get with the Lord of the Rings Franchise. I cant recall whether the handshake scene with Harry & Dudley is in the movie, or if thats a deleted scene, it seems almost like they strangled any attempt to show the Dursleys in a more sympathetic light.
this scene is wonderful though


"You didn't just lose a Mother that night in Godric's Hollow.... i lost a Sister"
 

Similar threads

Top