Why do kids like Harry Potter?

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Novel Diagnosis Series

Introduction
Characters
Dialogue
Scenes
Voice
Plot

Novel Diagnosis–Audience 

Because the last Harry Potter bookHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) comes out tomorrow, it’s appropriate today to talk about audience.

How do you make sure that your book is going to reach the target audience and that they will enjoy reading it?

Traditional answers

  1. The main character should be slightly older than the target audience.
  2. Boys will read about boys; girls will read about boys or girls.
  3. You should think about the needs and wants of the target audience.  School, friends, family, popularity, romance, grades, sports–all of the things that teens worry are possible stories.
  4. Conflict on every page.  Every novel–regardless of the target audience–needs conflict.  Without conflict, there is no story.

Harry Potter Answers

  1. Fun on every page.  I’ve heard that people count the number of “fun” things per chapter in a Harry Potter novel.  Think about it:  Bertie Botts jelly beans, flying brooms, Quidditch, flying cars, owls as postmen, and so on and so forth.  Conflict is still there, but mostly, it’s a fun place to be.   Part of this if J.K. Rowling’s skill is world-building, making a fantasy world that has the possibilities of events, items, weirdness, etc. that kids will think is fun.
  2. Technology has changed Tweens and Teens today.  The Great Tween Buying Machine: Capturing Your Share of the Multi-Billion-Dollar Tween Market The Great Tween Marketing Machine is an example of the books now available on marketing to the ten-year-old crowd.  In some ways, it’s scary–it suggests strageties for directly selling to sell to a ten-year-old!  Wow!  In other ways, I admire the study of the age and how technology has changed the world and marketing to a ten-year-old is indeed possible–and profitable.  Here’s another to look at:  BRANDchild: Insights into the Minds of Today's Global Kids: Understanding Their Relationship with Brands BRANDChild: Insights into the Minds of Today’s Global Kids

Self-Diagnosis

Choose 10 pages at random from your story.  (pages 3, 21, 25, 47, 52, 70, 71, 88, 91, 99).  Highlight the conflict and the fun things on every page. 

Do you think about your audience as you write, or do you write for that “inner child”?  First drafts–I don’t care.  But when you revise, you should think about the audience and how you can make the reading experience gripping.  Give them conflict!  Give them fun!  And they’ll come back for more. 

1 Comment
  • Clive
    July 19, 2007

    Hi Darcy,

    This self-diagnosis is an excellent exercise. I ran through this and on all of the suggested pages of my novel there is conflict. Trying to be objective as I could, I did find fun on each select page. Sometimes funny, sometimes adventurous fun. But it certainly wakes me up to what I need to do for rewrites.