It’s no exaggeration to say that JK Rowling has actually changed and shaped my life. I discovered Harry Potter as a child and with that series of books I discovered my passion of reading and writing and cemented my life aspiration to become an author. As a kid I started a Harry Potter club at school. During a dress up Harry Potter trivia night at my library (I was dressed as Hermione), I threw a tantrum because the quizmaster thought the animal on the crest of Gryffindor was a griffin. I went to every midnight screening, devoured every book on the day of release, and say the Harry Potter play in London in its first few weeks.
Because I’m such a mega fan of Harry Potter, the novels have had such an intense influence over my entire writing style. I swear it’s actually impossible for me to write a novel without bringing in some Potter influence – whether it’s school houses, a golden trio of main characters, or just hints at the themes of good versus evil. The woman/goddess behind these novels is insanely talented, creative and basically a genius, and I think we can all learn a million things from her. Here are some tips on writing I’ve picked up from JK Rowling…
- Plot like Potter. It took Jo years from her initial idea to actually finishing writing her works. And a lot of that time was used in building her insanely intricate plot. I don’t think I’ve ever read a large series of books with so many characters, side plots, back stories, secrets, mysteries, red herrings and more, and still have it actually make sense in the end. Rowling revealed a taste of her plotting style in her plot spreadsheet and I actually now use this type of structure (in a Google Sheets file) to plot my own stories.
- Don’t limit yourself. Jo is now the author of fantasy children’s novels, adult novels, crime novels, plays, screenplays and short form pieces. If you feel that you have a million ideas across genres and mediums bubbling in your head, don’t ignore them. Try a bit of everything and you’ll never be bored.
- Allow your favourite characters to have flaws. This is something that new writers never tend to do. Every love interest has to be insanely perfect. Every main character is a Mary Sue. The “flaws” are always cute things, like clumsiness. But Jo has clearly shown that it’s okay for our absolute favourite characters to have big flaws. Hermione is a know it all, of course. But also think of Ron. He’s the best friend ever, but he’s actually (gasp) a little bit “racist”. He thinks of other magical creatures as lesser to wizards (which he eventually grows out of). Jo shows you can give the characters you love horrible flaws. Good characters will learn and grow.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Everyone’s heard that Rowling was rejected time and time again before she published Potter. But it doesn’t hurt to repeat it. Write as much as you can, and put it out into the world. People will reject it. People will hate it. People won’t care. Do it anyway. Write again and again.
Best quotes on writing from JK Rowling
- “It’s like learning an instrument. You’ve got to be prepared for hitting wrong notes occasionally, or quite a lot. That’s just part of the learning process.”
- “Sometimes the ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost bleed to make ideas come. It’s a mysterious process, but I hope I never find out exactly how it works. I like a mystery, as you may have noticed.”
- “All a writer needs is talent and ink.”
- “Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential’ and ‘long overdue’ meetings on those days.”
- “Write what you know: your own interests, feelings, beliefs, friends, family and even pets will be your raw materials when you start writing. Develop a fondness for solitude if you can, because writing is one of the loneliest professions in the world!”
Did Harry Potter change your life in a monumental way as well? Share your experience in the comments!
Did you know you can read my novel (for free) online? It’s a young adult murder mystery. Check it out on Wattpad.