Of all the things I miss about living in the U.S., it’s not having libraries around that hurts the most.
Don’t get me wrong – Japan has plenty of libraries, but their English book selection is pretty limited. It’s not like I blame them though; the foreign language sections in American libraries usually aren’t a huge priority either.
But I’ve got to work with what I have, and my local library has copies of all the Harry Potter books in English, so that’s what I’m currently reading. It’s been a lot of fun re-reading The Sorcerer’s Stone for the, uh, three-hundredth time.
Now I’m reading them through more of a writer’s lens, and each week I’d like to share some passages that I think were extremely well-written, so that we can all try to get one step closer to god-tier J.K. Rowling. Here’s a single paragraph from when Harry passes through the barrier at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters:
Smoke from the engine drifted over the heads of the chattering crowd, while cats of every color wound here and there between their legs. Owls hooted to one another in a disgruntled sort of way over the babble and scraping of heavy trunks.
What I like about this short passage is that every word is chock full of meaning, helping to paint the scene of a idling train engine with just a hint of magic. Cats weaving through legs, owls hooting “in a disgruntled” way, and then the “scraping of heavy trunks” that is probably either great nostalgia or horrible PTSD for anyone who has traveled with lots of luggage before.
One thing that I struggle with is writing too generically. If I’d written the above scene, it probably would’ve just been Harry making his way through a crowd of people, and that’s it. I would’ve missed out on all the little details that help bring it to life.
When I do my writing today (and hopefully tomorrow too, and the day after – if I remember!) I’ll try to crack open my scenes a little bit more and let the juicy details spill out. How about you?
(Featured image via GAHAG, edited by me)