I shall quickly apologise if I offended any Potter fans with the title of this discussion. Firstly, let me say, I like the Harry Potter books, The Philosopher's stone was the first book I read on my own. But, as an English literature student who has read many books in his short life time, I must say that, although entertaining, they are not well written.
Do not equate the number of copies sold with whether or not the books are well written. This merely suggests they were popular with the masses, and we all all not that both twilight and Fifty Shade of Grey have also been popular with the masses.
This is a debate that splits my group of friend whenever one of us mentions it, so I decided to ask you lot.
Having read all three mentioned ( two out of curiosity and the third by force (fifty shades)) i can say that they are all poorly written compared to classical stories.However Harry Potter is much better written than Fifty Shades and Twilight. we also have to thank JK Rowling because Harry Potter made children read again in a time when reading was becoming less common in younger people. we also must not forget that HP is in fact a children's book so it can not be compared to Adult literature. Harry Potter is still a good book and will be remembered but it wont be for the amazing literary techniques.Still an amazing serious of books though. plus many fond Childhood memories.
So I recognize I am coming to this discussion way late, but this is a question that has come up with my friends as well.
I have some questions for your query.
What is the value of being well-written? What does it mean to be well-written?
When I think well-written I think The Great Gatsby. Words and a sense of beauty and seeing more into life. I think there is value in a well-written-ness (unlike me making up that word). Well-written works can lift us out of solipsism. They can give us a truer perspective on life.
But I like reading books that are not that well-written. Simplistic language and colloquial speech are restful. There is value in story beyond language or choice of words.
More than good language, I love it when a book drips with sincerity. This is part of what I like so much about John Green's works and George MacDonald's works. I love books being down-to-earth. I've heard (though I don't know Greek) that the New Testament in its original form is quite colloquial in style (of course this doesn't means it's poorly written, I guess). This is kind of cool, I think, because it means the message is meant for a common person. Even though the story is earth changing the language is accessible to everyone.
And I guess simplicity does not mean poorly written, so perhaps you have different parameters for a work being well-written. But I would say that just because a work is not amazingly well-written does not mean it is not valuable. That said, there is, of course, value in language being used well. But in the case of Harry Potter I would maybe say the simplicity of language is a positive. Now, there are other bits to a work being well-written, like plot development and such. But, you know, Harry Potter is good for what it is (I think). It's a story about individuals, and I think the plot development reflects this. So, I don't know, I would say Harry Potter is well-written. For its ease of reading and conveyance of a plot. For its creating a new world. And I think it uses the fantasy element of eucatostrophe well--which is the main thing I look for in fantasy. (And that is perhaps my only technical argument in this whole spiel). DFTBA.
I agree with you Emily. Poor is a word of comparison not an absolute. You, Kieran, gave no examples of "well-written" books. So, what do you mean by it? What evidence do present that the book is poorly written?
The goal of a novel is to tell a story in an entertaining way which make you feel, learn about yourself and the world around you. In what way did it fail this?
"Elegant" multisyllabic words are not the sign of a well written novels. nor is some arbitrary attempt to stick to your or some "expert's" ideas of the proper structure of a story. Many amazing novels brake those so called rules.
But here is the point at which you offed me. You insinuate that the book's popularity in someway inversely related to how well it is written or its connection with an individual. Two thinks that maybe correlated but have no causal relationship.
Nonetheless here is my argument for why Harry Potter is well written.
1) It is one of the few books which successfully hides its foreshadowing to the point that you can reread the books and gain a whole new apparition for them.
2) Though each novel stands for itself, each book in the series successfully continues the overarching story in a way few series ever do.
3) Her thesis of "love has a magic more powerful then hate" may be sappy but is important and deep as any thesis ever was and just because it is relatively universally known does not diminish it in a world that seem to forget it to frequently
4) The Character development of the children (main and side characters) so closely matches the development of almost every type of child in the world to day. The pace of this development is match near perfectly though the books that almost every person can find the child they are or were at those times. This not only gives glimpses of who each child may become but also teaches the understanding of people with different thinking styles then yourself
5) The choice of words paints pictures of places and events that only existed in the mind of one person until she put in all of ours.
To name a few. I like to believe you actually had a point to this and you were not just trolling, and if thats the case I forgive your implications. Though, I caution you agains the college student/grad mistake. This is a mistake I fell into as well and I had to fight to get out of and it is this:
Just because you learned a lot about how something can be done at the epitome of sophistication does not make the simple and direct any less awesome.