Starting a Novel Case Study: Harry Potter | Barbara Vance | Skillshare

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Starting a Novel Case Study: Harry Potter

teacher avatar Barbara Vance, Author, Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (1h 6m)
    • 1. Class Introduction

    • 2. What Makes a Good Beginning

    • 3. The Prologue

    • 4. POV, Voice, and Establishing Character

    • 5. Building Suspense through POV

    • 6. Suspense

    • 7. Suspense Continued

    • 8. Enter the Protagonist

    • 9. Establishing the Situation

    • 10. Ending the Chapter and Project

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About This Class

This course is a case study in which we analyze a work of literature for what makes a good start to a novel. We will discuss how J.K. Rowling sets up the first two chapter of 'Harry Potter and the Scorcerer's Stone'.

While how-to courses are certainly beneficial, I believe the best way to grow as a writer is to read an analyze literature. This case study is designed to be a deep dive in an acclaimed book in which we see what we can learn.

Among the things we discuss will be:

  1. Which characters are introduced and how?
  2. What is the point of view (POV), and what is the authorial voice?
  3. What is the conflict of the chapters and how does it relate to the grand story conflict?
  4. How is suspense built?
  5. How does each chapter begin and end?
  6. How to weave character description into plot

While you can absolutely watch this course without having read the chapters, you will get the most out of it if you read the chapters beforehand. The book is readily available at bookstores and libraries as well as in e-book form. Many libraries also have it available to check out as an e-book.

Warning! This course contains plot spoilers!!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Barbara Vance

Author, Illustrator



Barbara Vance is an author, illustrator and educator. She has a PhD in Narrative and Media, has taught storytelling and media production at several universities, and has spoken internationally on the power of storytelling and poetry. Barbara’s YouTube channel focuses on illustration and creative writing.

Her poetry collection, Suzie Bitner Was Afraid of the Drain, which she wrote and illustrated, is a Moonbeam Children’s Book winner, an Indie Book Award winner, and was twice a finalist for the Bluebonnet Award. Its poems are frequently used in school curricula around the world.

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1. Class Introduction: Hi, everyone, and welcome to this case study course on how to start your novel in this class, we are just going to focus in on one novel and look at how that author goes about starting the story. And in this case, we're going to be looking at Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone or Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, depending on where you live. This is part of a series of classes in which it's a case study course. So I have many, many courses that are more than theoretical side of story, telling the how twos, where we just talk about all of the best practices for writing your novels, your screenplays, your short stories. But what, in fact, is one of the best things that you can do to improve your writing skills and improve your understanding off literature and the way that stories work is really to engage with the stories that you love or stories that even if you don't love you, you think that they have merit that there will done and sort of break them apart and see what's working in them and why you like them, because that is what's going to let you Then take those things that you do like, and things that you think are going well and apply them to your own writing. So, you know, theory is great, and best practices are great, but nothing takes the place of really engaging with the literature. So that is what these case study courses do. I have a class all about starting your novel, So if you haven't watched that course, you absolutely can watch this one and get so much out of it. But then I do recommend that you go over and watch that one or take a break from this course. Go watch that course and then come back and watch this one. At the end of this class, I will give you sort of a class project assignment that will help you take what you've learned from this and then apply it to your own writing your own exercises, etcetera. Now a little bit of a set up and some heads up on the course. If you have not read the books that we're talking about in these classes, are they still helpful for you? Yes. You do not have to have read the stories, the chapters, the sections to learn from these classes. That being said, it really will help you when you are able to to engage with the texts that we are talking about in this class. We're going to be talking at about the 1st 2 chapters of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Philosopher's Stone Book, now four. Um, copyright purposes. I can't I can't give you those chapters, but you are welcome to go to your local library and check the book out downloaded on an e book. And you might even search on the Internet and see what you can come up with. Because sometimes publishers etcetera have those chapters available. Just read. So, um, kind of scope things out. To get the most most most out of the course, I recommend reading the 1st 2 chapters of the book and then watching the video so that we can talk about it. So if you haven't read those first few chapters and you really want to get the most out of it, take a pause. Here. Go read those 1st 2 chapters of the book and then come back. That being said, the other thing that I would like to do is just a disclaimer If you have not read this Harry Potter book and indeed perhaps in some ways, the Harry Potter series, there may be plots, boilers that happen. This is the nature of talking about literature. So if we're going to really dive in and look at this book, then we are going to have to talk about the plot. So if you don't want this plot ruined for you, then this is not the video for you to watch right now. Go read the book and then definitely come back and watch the class because I'd love for you to to watch it and to learn from it. All of that being said, I'm very excited about this class. We're going to be looking at writing an introduction from several ways. If you watch my other courses, you know, there are several things that I think are very, very key writing. This start of a novel can be very intimidating a lot, and a lot of the creative people I work with put a great deal of pressure on themselves. Forward the introduction to this story, and indeed it is a very important thing. This is your chance to grab the reader's attention to pull them in and make them want to read the rest of your book. So what you do and how you set that story up is important, and it does matter. And we're going to be looking at all of the ways that J. K. Rowling works to convey character, convey suspense, setting what is her point of view? What can we learn about the direction of the story? What is this story problem? All of these things that gets set up in the 1st 2 chapters of this book? I hope this sounds interesting to you. Very excited about this. If you've watched me other courses, you know, I love to dive deep into a story and just take it apart and see all of the wonderful workings inside of it. So if that's of interest, stick around and in the next video we will begin to dive into Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with us first 2. What Makes a Good Beginning : all right. Now I have in front of me my chapters of this story, and you will see me looking down from time to time as I as I referenced this. All right, so the glasses have made an appearance because I can't I can't do this blind so I can I can teach looking out blind. But I can't look at my my chapter and my notes without glasses or contacts, and it's not a contact stay. So it's a glasses day. Not that you needed that. All right, I have in front of me my two chapters for Harry Potter and the way we're going to go about this, we're going to walk through these, and it's just going to be a slow walk through the chapters. But there are several things that were going to talk about, so this course is going to be sort of a slow walk through. But there are also several key things that were going to be looking at. There are so many things that we could say and talk about when it comes to the introduction of a book, and we'd be here a very long time if we talked about them. Also, there are just some key things that I want us to look at, and these things include We're going to look at the point of view. This is key, its key in setting up your whole story. And it's certainly key in establishing when you are starting off your novel. We're also going to look at character off course. How is J. K. Rowling introducing these characters? How are we getting to know them? What sorts of things she's saying about them? We're also going to look at suspense because that is key in this book and indeed it. In any start of the story, you want to create some suspense that makes the reader want to go on and read the rest of the story. So how is she doing that? How is she doing back story? Because if you've watched my course on starting a novel, you know that, really? No matter where you start your story, you're jumping into the middle of the story. I'll have students. Sometimes I work with who say, Well, you know, Dr Vance, how should I stored? You know she started the beginning, Or should I jump into the middle and my answer is always, no matter what you do, no matter where you pick, you are starting in the middle of something distorting in the middle of a story that's already going on. So is their back story that needs to be dealt with. And how do you deal with that? Now? Different stories have more or less back story that they feel the need to fill in, so we want to look at that. But J. K. Rowling in particular there is a back story and its ways in very heavily in the start of her novel. So we want to make sure to look at that. We also want to touch on setting, because how you set things up, how you situate your reader in the environment that you're dropping your character into is also a part of the novel you. When we start a story, your reader is trying to get the lay of the land. Your reader is trying to say, What's who is this story about? What is this story about? Where is the story taking place? Who is the one telling me this story? We're trying to get a handle on this world that you've created in these people that you've created, and your job is to make me care. You have one primary job with this first chapter or, in this case, two chapters off your story, and that is to get your reader mentally and emotionally engaged so that they want to read the rest of your book. That's your job, and you do that through a lot of the things we will be looking at. So those are a lot of the key things that we will look at, and then we're going to walk through this chapter, looking at those things. We will then sort of do a review at the end, and then there will be a class project for you to then take all of this glorious information and then apply it. I highly recommend, by the way, that to the extent possible you have the chapters in front of you and you can write on them . Which means if you borrowed a book from somebody else, scan it, photocopy it printed out and have it in front of you because you can make notes on it and you might want to references later. It's tremendously helpful 3. The Prologue: now distort with this story. We're going to look at the 1st 2 chapters often. I think it's really great just to look at the first chapter because it just it lets us see in a very small, focused way. How that authors setting you off on the story. We're not going to do that with this book. We're looking at the 1st 2 chapters, and the reason is is that Chapter one actually really works as a kind of prologue. And I think I think if this were not a middle grade book, it might very well have been cold prologue over Chapter one. I do think there are benefits and calling it Chapter one instead of a prologue, because people tend to skip things called Introduction of Prologue because they think that it's not somehow part of this story. So especially for something like middle grade prologue could be an intimidating sounding words. Let's just make a Chapter one, which is what JK Rowling does. But what you'll see when you when you look at this is that Chapter one is it's It takes place, you know, in current in the moment of the events. But it's the back story to the whole rest of the novel. So Chapter one is all about backstory. And in Chapter one, we don't even meet Harry till the last moments of the chapter. He is just a baby in that scene, so we really don't know Harry. We just know about Harry. So this prologue functions. To tell us certain things to engage is to get us interested. But it also sets up Chapter two, and one of the things that I'd like for you to think about is how would Chapter to be different? Because Chapter two of this story launches us into Harry. Like Chapter two, Harry is a full fledged young. You know, young man, he's got a personality. He's acting. He's talking. How would that start be different if we had not had this? Because you could start this story without this first chapter and then work this information in? How would it be different? So be thinking about that. No, let's look at this and I'm going to be referencing a specific lines as we go throughout this, I will be quoting the story. This is so that we can get a handle on very specifically and in a very specific textual way , how this is working. So you'll see Chapter one, The boy who lived and in the first sentence, J. K. Rowling, sets up for us one of thes sort of fame's of certainly the Jurist Lee's life. But she also immediately sparks our sense of suspense, our sense that something is going to happen. But the first chapter, the first line, reads Mr and Mrs Ders Lee of number four Privet Drive were proud to say that they were perfectly normal. Thank you very much. Now there would be no reason on Earth to say Mr Mrs Sturdily Joesley felt they were perfectly normal. Thank you that the minute you point something like that out, you're queuing the reader that something unusual and not normal is going to happen. So from the very first sentence the readers now going, okay, something's up. Now, obviously, when you have a title like Harry Potter and Thesaurus of Stone or something like that, you know? Okay, we're expecting something fantasy. But if you didn't have a cover and you didn't know plot or anything else like that, you would read that sentence and go All right, this is normal is going to be quite disrupted so immediately. Not only is she telling me something about Mr and Mrs Dursley, but she's getting She's picking my suspense. I know something's going to happen and notice, by the way, that she chooses to start with the door is Lea's. She just not start with wizards. She does not start with Harry Potter. She starts with two people who are not the primary antagonists. No, not this primary villain, but that they have an antagonistic relationship with Harry. So they were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious because they just didn't hold with such nonsense. So they are First paragraph. She's set us off in suspense, and she's introduced these two characters. Now, one of the things that you talk about when you introduce a character is appearance, and that is immediately where we go. So this setting you can start a novel a lot of different ways. You can start by looking at setting. You can start by talking about a concept immediately we're talking about. The characters are first sentence. We are engaging with characters. This has the effect off bringing us right into the story and giving us a person to connect with, because again, stories are about people and you need to have really interesting characters for your reaches to grab onto or else they're not going to be interested. So we don't know if we like the door. Is Lea's it yet or not? It doesn't sound like we're going to, but we don't know. But we've We found somebody to glom onto. And then immediately in the next paragraph, she describes Mr Dursley and she describes him. You know, she says, they he he what he looked like and then she describes Mrs Dursley and what she looked like . And then he describes, she describes their son deadly. So we go from sort of this introduction that does suspends right into visual character description. You don't have to visually describe your characters, and you can do it in certain amounts. On what you see with J. K. Rawling, by the way, is she doesn't go into extensive, extensive visual descriptions of them. They're there. They're actually very limited. Mr. Jurors Lee made drills. He was a big, beefy man with hardly any neck, although he did have a very large moustache. That's it, That's it. She doesn't go into his clothes. She doesn't go too long. Descriptions of what he looked like a big, beefy man, small neck mustache that actually conveys quite a lot. So she she's sparing with it. But the effect of that is that it allows us to just get on with the plot. Every time you start to go down into a lot of detail, you are slowing that plot down. Is that a bad thing? Not if that's your style. No Dickins does that. Quite a bit of the people do it. That's your style. That's your style. It's not is recommended in an introduction, because again, we're trying to engage the reader in the story. Your reader will be more open to deep descriptions once they're engaged. But you've got to engage them first. Which is why, especially if you're even if you liked descriptions, you try to hold off on them in that first chapter or so until I'm I'm rather engaged with story. So JK Rowling does this very well. She just gives us short descriptions that just let us get right into it. Now. This third paragraph again. Suspense, and that you'll see is key in this first prologue section. Suspense, suspense, suspense, suspense. She is constantly building up readers suspense, and she ratchets it up as she goes through so suspense Again. The jerseys had everything they wanted, but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it. But here's the thing. She goes on about this. She says that they she she really goes on about it and for a whole length. Yet she she had this sister. They hadn't met her for several years. They were so different in the Jersey shuddered to think if anybody knew that the Potters were related to them. I mean, she waxes on about this and she spends a longer paragraph telling us how anxiety ridden the dinners lease are about this secret that they have. Then she does the descriptions of the jurors lease. So by by focusing in and spending time right there on that secret, we were like, OK, what's the secret with the secret? What's the secret? We don't know. So she's building up suspense. If it had been just one sentence that the door is Lea's had a secret, OK, and we're curious what it is. But when she says, Oh my gosh, it's this jerseys would be selling that were like, What's the secret we want to know? So she's she builds, builds and builds this suspense as she describes them. Right and again, this is one of the things you're doing in your first novel. Your How can I build suspense? What is going to make my reader keep reading and then this next paragraph, by the way, we're not gonna literally go paragraph by paragraph. But then she moves in. And she says, When Mr and Mrs Jersey woke up on the dough gray Tuesday, our story starts. There was nothing about the cloudy sky outside to suggest that strange and mysterious things would soon be happening. And then she goes on after that to say, Well, none of them noticed this large 20 owl flutter past the window, she goes on. So there was this first sign of something peculiar. There was a cat outside that Mr Jersey thought looked like it was reading a map. And he goes, No, it can't be. And he he drives to work and he starts to see all of these things that he think look unusual. So now she's set us off. But I wanted to pull back a minute here because she says there was nothing about the day. You know, it was a normal looking day on the day our story starts. 4. POV, Voice, and Establishing Character: Let's talk a minute about voice. You're going to find us. We go through this. The author, the author of this story, has a very distinct personality. The voice, The point of view. The author in the first chapter is not the author of the rest of the story, and this is key. The author in the first chapter is a third person, omniscient author with a very distinct opinions, and she gives them now she will dialled in and sort of focus in on one character or another , so she'll really focus in like, well, sort of dive in and just be floating around on Mr Jerseys head for a while or what have you ? But the author isn't we're not in Mr Jerseys head the office telling us what's in his head , but we're not just seeing things through his eyes. This is different when we get to Chapter two, because in Chapter two, what happens is we are at that point in 1/3 person limited and everything, even though it's still worded and we'll see this. But even though it's could still be worded like I'm just making this up, But you know, Mr Jersey looked and looked angry in Chapter two. When we read, Mr Dursley looked angry. That's Harry Potter's interpretation of what Mr Jersey looked like were strictly in Harry's head. We don't leave. Harry's had to go anywhere else. So even though it doesn't say Harry thought Mr Dursley looked angry because the perspective has shifted from Chapter 1 to 2 into that third person limited, we know that any of those personality interpretations those air all Harry's hair is not even in this yet. So he can't be that perspective here, and the author here dives into a lot of different people's heads. So in this first chapter, when this author, would you say something like Mr Jersey looked angry? That's the office perspective alone. This is very important because the rest of the story we understand that we're really learning a lot more about Harry because these descriptions are in his head. Not so with this first chapter. The other thing that I'd like for you to notice, as you read through these first paragraphs, is the way that J. K. Rowling she jumps in immediately and starts pushing that plot forward. I mean, we get a paragraph on the visual descriptions of these people. Ah, paragraph about this secret that they have and then, boom, we have started this story. But she drops in character descriptions throughout this story description. And what that does is it. Rather than doing large chunks of character description then going. Okay, I've said all of that. Now we can do the story. You just you leak it out. You drip it out as you go, so plot doesn't so that you could see pushing for it. Push it forward, push it forward. And an example of this would be on where she's talking about Mr Jurors. Lee driving into town, she says as he sat in the usual morning traffic jam. Right now, you could have said Mr Jersey got up every day. He got dressed. He drove in a traffic jam to work where he worked at the drill site and all that. But you don't have to. Just by saying the usual morning traffic jam, she's told us a lot about Mr Dursley, about the routines of his life and things like that. And these are just slight differences of words she could have just said as he sat in a traffic jam, But she doesn't the usual morning traffic jam really small word differences but conveys a lot of character description without slowing the novel. Down Here is where we start to dive in to Mr Door is Lea's head. She'll pull us into his head here or there, and then she pulls out in those author assessment. So, for example, when she says, Mr Dursley, however, had a perfectly normal owl free morning. Now if she just hadn't had had an hour free morning, that would have been a statement of fact. But the reason that she said he had a perfectly free I will free morning that she's dropped into his head. She's giving us his interpretation. Um, he thinks it's great because it's perfectly normal. It's owl free, and that makes it perfectly normal. So she's kind of dipping in and giving us his perspective. But she doesn't sit there. And what you see happening in these paragraphs of this first part of the story is the oddities. Start building again. We're building suspense. We started story with the fact first sentence. They like things normal. Second bit of it, they have a big secret that something's not right, and they don't want people to know. So our suspense is kicked up. Even Mawr. And then Okay, there was an owl. And these all things start to happen so slowly, slowly, slowly. She is building up our suspense. We know these people have a secret. We know they're abnormal things going on. We don't know what it means. We want to know what it means. So moving right along, he comes back. There are all these strange things happening. And then we're still in Mr Duras Lee's head and he's comes back to thinking about the Potters. It comes back to thinking about the Potters because something abnormal is happening. They associate abnormality with the Potters, so it makes him go. Does this have to do with the Potters? So now we're back to thinking about the potters and know if he'd had a sister like that and that's just so weird. And this is important. One of the things that you see JK Rowling do in this story is even though we haven't met Harry even though we haven't met his parents, she's bringing them in as characters. She's making them relevant. If you bring a character in. And then you don't talk about that character for quite a time. When you try to bring them back in, we've we've rather forgotten about them. J. K. Rowling keeps the Potters front of mind front of mind for the readers so that we're constantly thinking about them, and we're sort of getting to know them. We get the sense that they're odd and we get clearly they don't get along with the door. Is Lea's? We we know we're starting to learn things about them. We understand this secret has to do with them, and then he bumps into this little man on and the little man's really, you know, happy, excited. And he says, even Muggles like yourself should be celebrating this happy, happy day. And again, just suspense Muggles. What's a Muggle? We don't know. So if you go through this, you will see where literally almost every paragraph J. K. Rowling introduces some new element that makes us be a little bit more suspenseful and a little bit more invested and finding out what is going on. And even he acknowledges that he doesn't know what a Muggle is. They get home Mrs Ders Lee has had a nice, normal day. And so we get this description of Dudley and Mrs Jersey and they're trying to have this sort of, you know, every day, day they watch the news mawr where things are happening with the Owls. So we're so building up all of these things. And then he asked her, Oh, Petunia, dear, you haven't heard from your sister lately, have you? As he expected, Mrs Jersey looked shocked and angry. After all, they normally pretended she didn't have a sister. No, she should sharply why? And he's just though there's all this odd stuff happening or what have you They get Mrs Jersey gets a little bit of snitch, doesn't like her sister being brought up. But now that the subjects been, now that someone has been brought up, this we have him go, he asked his, he said, as casually as he could. Their son. He'd be about Dudley's age now, wouldn't he? I suppose so, said Mrs Jersey stiffly. What's his name again? Howard, Isn't it Harry? Nasty common name, if you ask me. This is the first introduction to Harry that we have, Harry. Nasty common name. If you ask me. And so we obviously have this irony here because Harry is anything but common. He is not common in the human world, and he's not common in the wizarding world. So is she's dropping in this sort of funny bit of irony that we don't get now, but that if you ever go back and re read the book you got, that's a bit funny because he is so absolutely, absolutely not normal. And, you know, then they go up to bed. The cat is still there, staring down privet drive as though it were waiting for something. And again, there is this sense of suspense happening. What's the cat waiting? Four. So the door is Lea's Get into bed. Mrs Jersey falls asleep, Minister jerseys having all the trouble in the world falling asleep. But finally, finally, he does, and he sort of gets himself to sleep, thinking, I'm just being silly. This isn't the potters. I'm just It couldn't be about us. It couldn't affect us at all. 5. Building Suspense through POV: So let's take a pause here. This this novel started in the narrator's head describing ders lease from the outside. Then we zoomed in for a moment, and we were almost for a little while in the third person limited in Mr Ders Lee's head. All the while suspense building up and building up with all these things happening. So we are. We know there's a secret. We don't know what the secret is, but we know it relates to the potters. We know it relates to these weird people in odd things happening, so we know there's a fantastic element happening here. We're getting all of this set up. And then the narrator intrudes and says How very wrong he waas. So Mr Ders Lee says he couldn't see how he and Petunia could get mixed up in anything that might be going on. He yawned and turned over. It couldn't affect them. How very wrong he waas now. The narratives popped back into the story again. We've pulled out of Mr Jerseys. Had the narrator is taking control again, we have shifted point of view. Mr. Jersey might have been drifting into an uneasy sleep, but the cat on the wall outside was showing no signs of sleepiness. So we've moved from the dirties, The jerseys air Now sleep. We're now back to the cat. We're going to come in and look at a few different things. So we just wanna walk through this. Then we're gonna come back and do some focus. We have now introduced another character because a man appears on the quarter. And this where she introduces Dumbledore. Nothing like this man had ever been seen on Privet Drive. We go into a mawr lengthy physical description. Then we had with the Dura sleaze That makes sense. He's a wizard. He looks differently. You would probably spend more time on that. This man's name was Albus Dumbledore. Now, again, we're in this narrative perspective and what you can tell from this point of view is that the narratives really talking to us, you know, the narrator doesn't make a secret that she's here telling me a story she's not. We do not have a narrative here, narrator here, who's trying to be self evasive and not present, which can be the case for a lot of third person perspectives where you don't I want the reader to feel like there's somebody actually talking with them, telling them this story. But in this case, J. K. Rowling wants that. And so we really have a sense of the narrative, totally knows that she's here talking to the reader. 6. Suspense: the next paragraph. Albus Dumbledore didn't seem to realize that he had just arrived in the street where everything from the name to his boots was unwelcome. Now notice here, and this is to state and on. The reason we're spending so much time on point of view is because it really moves around in this first chapter. For a while there in the beginning, we were really induce lease. Had we had just shifted for a little while into Third Limited, looking out, seeing things, the stairs they did. She doesn't do this with dumbbell door, she says. He didn't seem to realize, but in describing it that way, she stays out of his head. But she tells us something about what he's thinking, right? Like he didn't seem to realize. She doesn't say, Ah, he didn't realize. She did not say Albus Dumbledore didn't realize that he just arrived. No, no, he didn't seem to realize she stays out of his head. She asked yourself, Is the reader why? What's the effect of not being in Alba Stumble Doors head? There might be several reasons for this, but one of the reasons would be great to stay out of his head is it helps us keep with suspense because right now we don't know who these people are. We're still trying to figure this out. So don't then go put me in the head of the people with whom I'm trying to figure it out. She's trying to keep us on the outside of them so that we still have questions. Um, again, the cat seemed to amuse him. So we get a sense in these characters you. She starts to flush dumbbell door out, and she does it in much the way that we talked about with jurors. Lee in the traffic, little bits here and there where we get a sense of his sense of humor, a sense of his kindness, a sense of this or that. She doesn't have to say he had a sense of humor. He was kind or anything like that. She uses small indicator words small, small character, you know, reactions that conveyed tow us a lot about who Albus Dumbledore iss. So, you know, just to say things like the cat seemed to amuse him. He chuckled and muttered, I should have known So he's good natured, were falling and We're kind of trusting him. Which now this is a good thing. This is important. She has started her story with unlikeable People we know the door is Lea's are not the main character. And they are unlikable. Not always, of course, but more often than not, you've got You've got to give your readers a character to like to follow. And this is a prologue. We're still not following Harry, but we're given somebody toe like we needed that. So we go. Okay. Here. Here, We've got it. We thought somebody good. We can follow. And so the next paragraph in this is important. Also, he found what he was looking for inside his pocket. It seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter. This is important. This author right now, this author is if you want to call it something. A Muggle. It seemed to be a cigarette lighter. She doesn't come out and say he pulled out this, you know? Whatever. No, She says this put her out her, but she abs observing it from a little more Muggle perspective. So she's placing herself in this. Now the other thing that happens is again Remember what I said If you're going to introduce a character and then you don't talk about them for a while, we sort of forget about them in that. When she's talking about the Duras lease in the first part of this chapter, she's bringing in the Potter's, so their present, their present, their present. Now that the jerseys have gone to sleep, she doesn't want to just drop the Duras lease out of the story. She's just We've just invested ourselves in the door is Lea's. So now that she's shifted over to the Wizards, she still needs to kind of keep the jerseys in the story a little bit. And she does that very subtly, very slightly. When she talks about dumbbell door, sort of pulling the lights out of the street, lamps with his put her outer, she says. If anyone looked out of their window now even beady eyed Mrs Ders lee, they wouldn't be able to see anything that was happening down on the pavement. So it's just a small thing she could Instead of anybody looked outside, you would have been able to see anything but by saying if anything in anybody looked outside even Mrs Jersey with her beady eyes. They wouldn't have seen anything. She's just kept the jerseys in the story. It's just a way to keep jerseys front of mind for us. And it also tells us a little bit more about Mrs jurors. Lee. You know, she's probably a bit of a snoop. She looks out the window a lot. She didn't have to get into any of that character description. She just starts putting it in. So she's really great about just every sentence, kind of maximizing, either. Describing a character to us, fording the plot, keeping characters present. She's doing a phenomenal job with this. Then he starts talking to the cat. Fancy seeing you, Mrs Professor McGonagall. The cat turns into a wizard and they start having this conversation. We won't get into all of that. But what you see from the conversation with Albus Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall, that conversation is all about building suspense. 7. Suspense Continued: There's been all this talk over here with the jerseys. From this mogul perspective, we know something honest happening, but we have no idea what it is. Then we switch over to the Wizards were like, All right, now we're gonna get some answers. But it's like overhearing part of a conversation where someone's on the telephone and you only hear half of it or something. You're still not sure what's happening? You okay? What's happening? And the the suspense gets built even more because we're given more bits of information, but we still don't quite know. We still don't quite know what's happening. You know s so well with this is they sort of go off of the ders lease and and talk, you know briefly about them, but we But we get these bits. And here again, we talked about backstory. Now JK Rowling is starting to fill us in on some back story. This whole chapter is back story. But within this back story chapter, there's more back story, which is how did we get here? And we get this dripped out in lines where Dumbledore might say we've had precious little to celebrate for 11 years makes us go. OK? No, I was I was just sitting here wondering what? Who in the world the potters are And what is this thing going on? The, you know, with owls and whatnot. But now there's this precious little to celebrate for 11 years. What's that about? Constantly again building up this, this all these questions that I have and then McGonigal she says the fine thing, it would be if on the very day you know who seems to have disappeared it last. The Muggles found out about us all. I suppose he really has gone double door. So now we're like, all right, on the very who is you know who. Where did he go? What's going on for 11 years? I have to know, right? This is It keeps you reading. And then there's this little thing with Dumbledore. He likes certain candy. It makes him very human or whatnot. He says, my dear professor, surely a sensible person can call him by his name. And then he calls him Voldemort And what this does, And this is important. We've been building up some suspense. We've been building up a lot of suspense. You don't want to just build up suspense and not release it as well. You want the Your whole story is a Siris of tension. Release, tension release. Build up suspense. Let me know. Some of it is going to release some tension. And so we get a quick answer. We had just a small We've had this big suspense building, right, and you can release tension in different ways. But then we get this thing with you know who and a few paragraphs later, we get the name Voldemort. We need that. We needed something. As a reader. We needed some kind of a cookie. And and we get it. So we understand this problem. We understand. Well, the more it somebody bad. And she says, everyone, you're the only one he was frightened of. So we learned a little bit more about this dynamic between Dumbledore and Voldemort. Again, we're not allowed in these wizards heads with being kept outside of it. That keeps us in suspense again. It seemed that Professor McGonagall had reached the point where she was most anxious to discuss the rail reason she'd been waiting out in the cold, hard wall all day. Again, we're not in Professor mechanicals head. We have all this suspense. What's the reason? What's the reason, then right there is where we feel like we're finally going to get an answer. Why are these wizards here? What's been going on all day? Will somebody please tell me what's happening? And she says what they're saying is it? Last night, Voldemort turned up in Godric's Hollow. He went to find the Potter's. The rumor is that Lily and James Potter are are that they're dead, and it's like But we got so much information like there's big wizarding thing and Voldemort's this really bad person and they've brought the Potters back in and that they're connected. We were like, Oh, my gosh, the Potters are involved in the wizarding world when they're involved. And there's this big hitting his person in Baltimore and something about Lily and James Potter in the There's a connection there, and we know that Harry somehow involved in this. So we've had all these answers, but now we have all these new questions, and that's one of the really great ways when you're releasing tension, if you build suspense up and then you answer some of it. Try to give me new questions. Try not to just say OK, here are your answers by you want to? You want to give me new questions? And she does that. So notice, like as you go through reading this, be like, OK, highlight for yourself. Where do I start to get read early questions about what's going to happen next, and where does she answer them and look and see where if she answers them, Do you have new questions? And if you see that, that's a really good sign. That's a really good way to build suspense. Give me answers. And in doing the that through those answers, give me new questions. She's doing that so doubled or nodded glumly. It's true, and they, you know, did, um but But how the name did Harry survive and doubled or says something important, he says. We can only guess, said Dumbbell Door. We may never know. So now in him saying that we get the sense with that one, that piece of information, that's a longer story. We wonder, too, but we're not going to get an answer right away on that. So we pocketed away in the back of our head. And so they're waiting. They're waiting for someone. We've learned that I've come to bring Harry to his aunt and uncle were the only family he has left now. So we learn specifically, Why double doors there? Why McGonigal is there? And we were setting up Harry situation. Harry's clearly a member of the wizarding world. I mean, what do we know about him now? He's a member of the wizarding world. His parents had some sort of altercation with Voldemort. Voldemort is gone, but we're not sure exactly how what that means. Harry's parents are dead. Harry's now an orphan, and he's not an orphan to just anyone. He's an orphan. Did the city is horrible people Now imagine if you'd started this. You flipped things and you started with this wizarding part. And then we learned about the jerseys later. You totally do that. I'm not saying it's a bad way to do it, but the effect of doing the way that she's done it is that because we've set the ders lease up when we learn this piece of news were like, Oh my gosh, this is bad because you know they're not nice people. And they're not even just not nice people. They're people who hate the wizards, and they don't like Harry. So this is We're emotionally invested when we learn this because we know how how bad this could be. And you know, McGonigal confirms this force she saw. You can't. You cannot be. You cannot possibly leave Harry Potter. This is terrible. And double door says it's the best place for him. I wrote him a letter, and she just says, and this is gonna prep us. McGonigal here is going to prepare us. She's These people will never understand, Harry. He will be famous. He'll be a legend. Um, you know, this might be Harry Potter Day in the future. Everybody's gonna know his name and her doing that. We really get a sense. What a big deal. What has happened is and dumbbell horses that basically that's why he's gotta be here, cannot grow up in that kind of light. Hagrid's bringing him, and again. Now we're introduced to another character. Introduced a Hagrid. Hagrid's bringing him. You think that wise, I would trust haggled with my life, And I'm not saying his heart isn't in the right place, Professor McGonigal. But you can't pretend he's not careless. Eso we get this sense. We between hearing them talk about it. We're starting to get a description of Hagrid, but we haven't met him yet. So this is a situation where we're developing a character whose off screen at the moment as it were and so again that builds up suspense. We haven't seen Hagrid, and then Hagrid comes in. He comes in on his flying motorcycle type thing and we see that he's very kind. He's emotionally attached to various Well, then we bring up another character where he says, I borrowed the motorcycle. Young Sirius Black lent it to me. I've got him, sir. So we this and it, you know, if you know JK Rowling planned things out, you see her starting to drop things in that might not even come up in this book. These people might come up in a book down the road, but she's cheese. She's laying the groundwork, and then we see that he has that score, that Harry has a score on his head and then they put the baby out. That kind of leave the baby. It's kind of this emotional scene and and then everybody kind of goes their own way. Dumbledore puts the lights back on to the street things. Good luck, Harry, he murmured. He turned on his heel and with a swish of his cloak, he was gone. And then the last see the last paragraph. We pull out, we zoom out and we get a description of privet drive. Um, of Harry rolled into the blankets of So it's almost just like the camera is pulling out of the scene the way you might actually see in the film. And that's a that's a common way to sort of close out of scene is to just sort of pan out and give us a big lay of the land. And that that is what has happened and that closes out this scene. Now this functions is a prologue, because this is all back story that we haven't really started the main story yet. And so what you see here is that J. K. Rowling has done a really great job off setting up for us all of these things that have happened in the wizarding world, and now we're going to we're going to go in and we're going to go into Harry's story knowing quite a lot of information. We're going to go into Harry Story knowing information that Harry doesn't know and again think about what that means. Think about how that changes the story for us to start it with information that we know that Harry doesn't know. It has an effect on us that we're not learning all of these things with Harry. Rather, we get to watch Harry sort of start to figure things out, and it puts us in a privileged position of sort of being not wiser than him, but but more knowledgeable than him than he is and therefore sort of because we have these answers. We just spent a whole prologue going, What's this? What's this? What's this? What's this? What's this being all this kind of suspense? And we got a lot of answers because we have the answers that we have now. You want suspense for your whole story, but because we have the answers that we have were able to spend this introductory phase with Harry focused on Harry as a person, his emotional state. If we didn't have all these other answers would be very focused on plot suspense questions because we have them. We can sort of rest on those and focus in on Harry, which is what we will do in the second chapter of this book. 8. Enter the Protagonist: the point of view, as we mentioned in the first port of this class. When's Chapter two starts? We're now in a new point of view. We are in third person limited point of view. We are in Harry's point of view. You will see that everything that happens in this chapter is from the perspective of how we don't leave any other scenes were always where Harry is. We always seeing things through his eyes. Now, just as we ended, the prologue zoomed out were zoomed out of sort of this chapter, and this chapter starts a little bit differently. Nearly 10 years have passed since the jerseys had woken up to find the nephew on the front door. The privet drive had hardly changed at all. And then we get into this description of the house. Now again, you can start a story many, many, many ways. The first chapter started writing a character with the jurors lease. This chapter is more of a setting. She describes setting, and she sort of lays out. You know how things look and in doing that sort of sets us up in a paragraph for okay, here's where things are now on what that is is sort of like All right in the paragraph, Here's the Reader's Digest version of the past 10 years. Here's where we are and that's what she's doing. There were all zoomed out and then we start to pull in. So she zooms out, describes the house Dudley has grown up is not a baby anymore. They're photographs, Paragraph two. Yet Harry Potter was still there, asleep at the moment, but not for long. His that opportunity was awake, and it was her shrill voice that made the first noise of the day. So we've zoomed in. We've looked at the house, and now we're resumed in on Harry. And here's where we get this sort of lay of the land of what's Harry's life like now? And that's what this chapters all about this chapter is all about setting up for us. Okay, 10 years later, where is Harry now? Who is Harry now? And what's Harry's problem, and how do we set this story off into motion? Okay, so these are all things that if you've watched my the class, you know, these are important. We need to know who our protagonist is. What his problem is, and we have got to set that story in motion and that it was all going to happen here. And basically this this first part of this chapter is really setting us up for this sort of dick NZ and childhood that Harry has had. He's just treated awfully. He's yelled at. He has to get up. You have to go cook bacon for your cousin and you know he's They're not nice. They're not nice. And Harry was used to spiders because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them. Let's pause here for a moment when we talk about point of view. One of the things she'll notice about the voice in this is that there's a there's odd dork humor to it. There are funny little ways like this. Harry's childhood is sad. It sat, but this isn't written in a way that's depressing and sad. Even though it is, it's written in a very punchy, forward moving way with lines that actually have some humor Tooth, Um, and that is what you see here. So that's kind of this voice, you know? Yeah, Dudley's birthday. How could he have forgotten Harry slowly got out of then started looking for socks. He found a pair under his bed and after pulling off a spider off of one of them, put them on. Harry was used to spiders because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them. So it's just, you know, it's this all sort of dark humor that we get. And that was where he slept. So he gets dressed. He goes downstairs. We get these descriptions of Dudley now being this totally spoiled, awful, awful child. And then we get a description of Harry being, you know, thin. He's thinner than he has to be, where close it doesn't fit in and all of that. We get this description and she works that description into the narrative. And so again you see where J. K. Rowling is constantly working character description into narrative. And she does that with Harry. You know where we hear So once a week, Uncle Vernon looks over the newspaper. He shouted it, Harry, and we start to get very quickly Descents. That way we understand that Harry doesn't realize he's a wizard. He's living up the stairs. He's living this hard life. But we also understand that there are weird things about Harry, things like his hair that grows rapidly, rapidly, rapidly. And we also learned that Harry knows that weird things happen. He just can't explain them. So he knows there are weird things happening, but he doesn't know what they are either, and he gets in lots and lots of trouble for them. And we also learn in this hair is not perfect. And you know, she's setting hurry up to have all these things antagonizing forces on him. But she doesn't want Harry being this sort of mortar that we can't relate to. We need to be able to relate to Harry, and one of the things that you see in this is that Harry is actually very opinionated, and he's got some nasty little thoughts of his own, some mean little thoughts of all his own. And we see this when, um, we read. Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby angel. Hurry often said that Douglas looked like a pig in a week. Again, it's it's It's supposed to be comedic, but it's a nasty little lot. It's a mean thing to say, and that's what Harry says. So we see that hair is gone attitude. He's got attitude. He just can't convey it a lot of the time because of the situation that he's living in. But we start to see that Harry Harry's got his own thoughts. Harry's got his own opinions. And so then we get this description of how spoiled Dudley is and Dudley's kind of his relationship with his parents on what that looks like. And so we're building out. We're flushing out this really wretched, miserable situation in which Harry lives and true to form with the prologue. Chapter one, JK Rowling continues to introduce characters like Mrs Big, who could turn up at another time and indeed do. 9. Establishing the Situation: So then we get to this plot conflict, and we get the flock conflict that it's Dudley's birthday. His parents have to take him out, and they would never ordinarily take Harry. But Mrs Big broke her leg and she can't take him. And so we learned that every year, Um, Harry was always left behind at Mrs Biggs, a mad old lady who lived two streets away, hurry, hated it there. The whole house smell of cabbage, and Mrs Big made him look at photographs, all the cat she's ever owned and she can't go. So we have opportunity. Just what we do now type thing. And then we have this. Harry knew he ought to feel sorry that Mrs Fink had broken her leg. But it wasn't easy when he reminded himself it would be a whole year before he had to look a Tibbles, snowy Mr Pulis and tough t again. It's again. We have that humor. Um, but this is key also because it tells us that even though Harry has these little snarky things in these opinions, he's you know, he gets that he's got a conscience. He knows what else I shouldn't feel like I shouldn't feel I should not feel happy that this woman broke her leg. But I just can't help it because it's that bad. So little lines like that again, always pushing. Then our to forward while she does it. We start to learn about Carrie. All options are exhausted. They have to go. Harry goes with them and they go to gives you and then we get this again. The uncle Vernon doesn't really want to take him the problem. Waas Strange things often happened around Harry and it was just no good telling the jurors lease. He didn't make them happen. And this comes up because, you know, Uncle Vernon says don't no funny business, no funny business type thing. And Harry's like, I can't help it. Strange things happen around me. I don't know. I I didn't do it is what he basically says and the jerseys will have none of it. They seem to think that he did it all. And we get examples of this as kind of a back story. So, you know, JK Rowling then goes in and describe several situations in which all things have happened with Harry that he doesn't understanding cannot explain. So we get this back story and then we start to pull in. They go to the zoo and they're having a good time. He gets this left over ice cream thing. He thinks it's all going to be fine. And then, of course, it doesn't last because they have this incident with the snake and Harry sort of communicates with the snake. And, you know, the glass disappears, the snake falls off, the glass falls away, that snakes leathers off. And there's this high drama, high drama moment. Okay, now one of the things to notice here is that this action scene from when Harry goes there to the zoo, he looks the glass. He's talks to the snake, the glass disappears, the snake slithers away, and it talks to him. Notice how that is the first major action scene of the whole story. OK, I mean, the you have action happening, but the first rail and the moment action scene snake this that it's very short. It's very short. Read back over that and see how quickly things speed up. And this novel hasn't been moving slow anyway, Jk Rowling, to such a good job of weaving description into the narrative itself. That we don't feel like this is a slow story, but it speeds up in this snake moment and the whole scene, the whole scene, from when he talks to the snake to when that's over is it's truly a little little more than a page, and not even that much, because it's a lot of dialogue, very short scene, and it's not over described, so it just moves at a very punchy, punchy, punchy taste. And this is this moment where we get to see an action, something odd happening with Harry. Up to this point, we've been told about all of the weird things that happen around Harry. But here we actually get to see one, and so then they have to go home. He's in trouble, he lays in his dark cupboard. Um, he doesn't know how long it's been, and then the last two paragraphs of this sentence are just in his head. The chapter ends with his thoughts. He's he lived with the disease 10 miserable years as long as he could remember. Sometimes. When he strained his memory, he came up with a strange vision. Ah, blinding flash of green light. So we see that he's got this fuzzy memory off that day that we read about in the prologue when you've been younger. He had dreamed and dreamed of some unknown relation coming to take him away, but it had never happened. The jerseys were his only family. Sometimes, he thought, maybe hoped that strangers in the street seemed to know him. Very strange strangers. They were, too. And they go on to describe these odd wizard people who seem to sort of know Harry at school . Harry had no one. Everybody knew that Dudley's gang hated. Harry hated that God. Harry Potter in his baggy old clothes and broken glasses. And nobody like to disagree with Dudley's gang, and that's where it ends. 10. Ending the Chapter and Project: We've talked a lot about voice. We've talked about how they introduce people, how they built suspense, all this back story that gets filled in. We're still not set off at this point onto them major piece. That's going to be the rest of this novel and indeed, really, the rest of the larger Harry Potter's story. That doesn't happen until the owl invitation arrives. That's what's really kicks off the wizarding world. He just punching its way into Harry's life at the moment. But this chapter serves its function of if the first chapter was all about this pre Harry in the moment, life and what it all means. This chapter sets us up for who Harry is now. This chapter is all about getting to know Harry and getting to see not for ourselves the odd things that Harry experiences and goes through and how he feels emotionally and where he is. You know that he is hurt, that he is, you know, human, and that's what these last few paragraphs really function to do. These last two paragraphs really function to give us some of the emotional pulling on the heartstrings that we need to really connect with Harry and and care about him, which we do. It also gives us some of that suspense where you know he's got these fuzzy memories. He's got a sense that people are watching him now again, we know why they are. We know why they are because we have tapped a one so we don't have to sit there with the attention we had in Chapter one again. Here were able to just sit and be present with Harry and his emotion and focus on Harry as a person because we sit there and go. Harry doesn't realize he's a wizard. Harry doesn't realize there are people who care very much for him. Look at this awful situation that Harry's in. We have been freed up by answering certain questions to focus in on the character, and we needed that because what makes us want to read the rest of the book is that we care about these characters, so she's giving us that and then that final sentence. Nobody wants to disagree with Dudley's gang. That's so this leading sentence, and you could tell from that that we're going to now have to you're gonna bring this up we're going to see Dudley's gang in the next chapter. And if you go through and you look at the way J. K. Rowling ends chapters in this book, you will very often see that many, many, many of them. The very end of it leads us into something that's going to happen in the next chapter, so that there's always a new suspense created and the new suspense here is Dudley's got a gang. You don't want to mess with it. What's going to happen with Harry and Dudley's gang? So let's just style down here in minute and talk about this. This kind of analysis thistles, what you want to be doing with the books that you read, the stories that you love. This is what's going to help you work through and say, How can I right in a certain way? Now there's no one way to do this. There are so many different kinds of ways to start story, and that a great this is just one of them, but it's very effective. Remember that it is a middle grade novel, so keep in perspective, genre or the you know the age range for the work that you are writing, but take the time to go through it again. She has excellent point of view. She isn't. She's a narrator who's got a great, very distinct personality and opinions. She sets up back story for us very, very well. She doesn't over describe her characters. She weaves her character descriptions into the novel itself. She gives us time to connect emotionally with Harry. She lets us have back story about Harry's oddities, but she also lets us see those oddities for ourselves. We needed some action. We needed that action scene, however short it waas not the action wasn't happening all over the place. But we need to see Harry engage in some action. And in fact, seeing that snake scene gave us a bit of tension release because we've been hearing all about these weird things and we'd like to see something for ourselves. Thank you very much. So there are all these ways that J. K. Rowling is really working to shape this story, and I hope going through this has been helpful for you. I have for you just on interesting little check list and you can use this checklist. It's in the class resources for you to download. It's a series of questions. These are questions you can apply to your own story as you're writing it. If you want to start to brainstorm a way to start your novel, it's also something that you could take and apply to reading another chapter and doing a little case study on an introduction. First chapter The way we've done in this book so you can use it in either way. I really recommend that you downloaded and take a look at it. And if you're struggling with your chapters and how do you start your story again? I would reiterate what I've said in my other class, which is Don't let it over. Intimidate You don't think about the first thing you write is being permanent. It's not could very well change. You might try to right the start of your chapter several different ways. The questions in the class resource will help you sort of think about what those things might be. If you enjoyed this case study, please let me know that Leave a comment or you don't let me know if there are other stories that you'd like to see done as case studies because I am more than happy to do that. And it's wonderful to hear from. You always thank you very much for watching. I hope you're having a wonderful day and I will see you next time by