It’s been nine days since I picked up the first Harry Potter book.
No spoilers included, so don’t worry.
Having read all seven in a row, my initial impression of J.K. Rowling’s talent is only confirmed. She’s created characters who both enchant and annoy—much like many of the people who cross our paths. I don’t think Harry Potter would have meant so much to so many if he hadn’t been true to form, meaning he did, said, and thought things that were typical for any adolescent or teenager. As much as I like Harry, that didn’t keep me from wanting to give him a swift kick on occasion.
My earlier posts on Harry Potter touched on Rowling’s ability to appeal to both adults and children and her skill at creating worlds. After finishing the last book, I wondered, as with all of the really good books, why certain events had to happen. I’ve noticed that most of the stories that stick with me after I hear them don’t automatically lead to the “happy ending” we’ve been trained to expect. A true happy ending is one that doesn’t betray the beginning or the middle.
Stories themselves are a bit like the characters that inhabit them. They have individual quirks that make them different from each other. And when they’ve stayed true to themselves, from beginning to end, I believe they can become a part of how you see the world.
That’s why we’re pushing back against storytellers who aren’t staying true to their story. That’s why Dell got hit so hard on its customer service. Dell told a different story than the reality, and they paid the price. It’s why JetBlue and other airlines can’t seem to make a full comeback. They aren’t staying true to their story.
Rowling, Tolkien, and other amazing authors have created worlds and stories that stayed true to their character from beginning to end. Whether you’re a company or an individual, I think it makes sense to honor this code. It doesn’t matter rather you read volumes or little at all—we know what makes for a good story. And frankly, it’s been awhile since I heard one outside of a book. Who’d like to be the first to change that?