A Glimpse at J.K. Rowling’s Writing Method

The movie blog, /Film, recently posted some images of J.K. Rowling’s planning for a couple of chapters of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. To be honest, I was blown away by the level of detail. I knew that J.K. Rowling had plotted the storyline for the whole Harry Potter series before she started to write The Philospher’s Stone, but I hadn’t really considered how complex the planning would have to be in order to keep track of the many subplots.

/Film says that:

She keeps track of all the book’s subplots in every chapter and how they are developing in the real world of the book, even if they aren’t mentioned on the page. So, there’s a full column on “The Prophecy” which is the main subplot Harry is worried about throughout the book. Then there’s a column for the romantic subplot, titled “Cho/Ginny” followed by “D.A.” which follows what’s going on with Harry, Ron and Hermione’s resistance group “Dumbledore’s Army,” one called “O of P,” a column about what’s the latest with the “Order of the Phoenix,” a.k.a, the people who believe Voldemort is still alive, then separate columns for Snape (and others, I can’t read Rowlings writing) and the Hagrid and Grawp story.

Check out part of J.K. Rowling’s plan. I love the way it is written in biro on a rough piece of lined paper. It’s almost as if she had finally worked how all the pieces and strands of her story worked together, and had to record it on whatever was available before she forgot some of the details.

J.K. Rowling Planning Page
J.K. Rowling's Planning

See /Film for larger images.

7 Facts About Dick King-Smith

Here are some facts about Dick King-Smith, the author of some very well-loved children’s books, such as The Sheep Pig (which became the movie Babe) and The Fox Busters.

  1. Dick King-Smith has three grown-up children, Juliet, Lizzie and Giles, and more than ten grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
  2. Before he became a fulltime writer, Dick King-Smith worked as a farmer, a primary school teacher, a shoemaker and a salesman.
  3. The Fox Busters was his first published children’s book.
  4. Dick King-Smith has written more than 100 books for children, most of them featuring animals.
  5. He writes his books in a tiny room at the top of his house, Diamond’s Cottage.
  6. Every morning he writes for two hours in pen on plain white A4 paper. In the afternoon he types out what he’s written.
  7. When he was a farmer, the pigs were Dick’s favourite animals. He even has a bronze statue of a pig in his garden.

Update: Dick King-Smith died on 4th January 2011. He was 88 years old.

12 Facts About J.K. Rowling

Here are some interesting facts about the author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling.

  1. Her earliest memory is of playing with playdough when her sister was being born.
  2. Both of her parents loved reading, and she remembers her father reading Wind in the Willows to her when she had the measles.
  3. She loves tropical fish.
  4. She was born in Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol.
  5. J.K. Rowling attended a village school in Tutshill. One of the teachers at the school was one of the individuals who influenced the character of Severus Snape.
  6. Her best friend at school was called Sean Harris. J.K. Rowling dedicated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to him. Ron Weasley is apparently very much like Sean Harris.
  7. As a child J.K. Rowling’s favourite book was The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.
  8. The idea for the Harry Potter books came to her on a train journey from Manchester to London. During the journey she came up with the characters of Harry Potter, Hagrid, Ron, Peeves and Nearly Headless Nick.
  9. J.K. Rowling planned out the entire seven-book series before she started to write the first one! She nearly always writes complete histories for all of her characters. Much of this information and detail does not actually end up in her books.
  10. By her twenty-eighth birthday, just after the birth of her daughter, Jessica, she had completed the first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
  11. The first Harry Potter book (the first ever published book by J.K. Rowling) came out in July 1997.
  12. Her first ever fan letter was from a reader called Francesca Gray. She thought J.K. Rowling was a man and started her letter, ‘Dear Sir…’