The Goblet of Fire (No spoilers)

The first two chapters of this book were extremely boring to me. J K Rowling always begins these books with a recap approach, assuming that the reader hasn’t read the previous book or read the previous book so long ago that they’ve forgotten the characters, and it was mildly annoying before but here, combined with the odd features of this opening, I basically skipped these chapters.

The first chapter is roughly akin to the opening of a horror movie. We see the villain and we see both the villain’s power and their cruelty. That’s fine, though I should note that the Harry Potter series has always followed Harry rather than someone else, so it was a strange contrast to the usual writing style. From a personal perspective, I’m not interested in reading about Voldemort, so this was dull.

The second chapter is the strangest, where Potter tries to recall a nightmare, a nightmare of the chapter we have just read, whilst reminding us that Ron is his ginger-haired friend etc.etc.. For the entirety of my reading here I was simply waiting for something new to be written and it never was (though it could’ve been after I decided to skip to chapter three), and I couldn’t stop thinking, “Why are one and two separate, why not show the key elements from one in chapter two and leave it there?”

This is a big problem in writing. Writers will often repeat themselves in the same sentence, or as above, in subsequent chapters. It is something that’s natural to people and if you listen properly to a conversation you’ll here it frequently. For instance, I often almost finish a sentence when speaking then stumble, only to repeat the entire sentence again without the mistake, instead of adding the final word. Others will say the same thing in different ways. There are innumerable ways for people to exhibit this tendency, but it’s one writers must avoid. Lest readers feel the need to skip chapters, as I did.

I’m not sure whether I have missed some key information whilst skipping chapter two but I decided not to go back and reread it because I’m into the main narrative now. Writers cannot expect readers to show lots of patience with them. We’re asking someone to enjoy our book, not obligating them to read every single line.

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