Friday, October 15, 2010

JK Rowling and Plot Planning

Inspiring Me Today: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

If you're as much of a Harry Potter geek as I am (or if you've been following YA authors on twitter lately), then you may have already seen this:


Released originally as one of the easter eggs on her website, this is a glimpse into J.K. Rowling's plot planning methodology. I found this a wonderful tip on how to plan out your plot, whether during initial writing or during rewrites (depending on if you're a "planner" or a "pantser"). I thought this would be especially helpful for those of you attempting NaNoWriMo next month.

To save you time deciphering this page, here's what Rowling does:

In the far left column, we have the chapter #. This page is for chapters 13-24. Next to that, she has the time frame. Note that she doesn't go too overboard here with specific dates. She just has the month, which is about all she needs to remind her readers of what time of year it is (I need to get better myself at remembering to include a reference in each chapter). Next to that, we have her tentative titles for the chapters. After that, she has the overall plot of that chapter.

Now, for the really interesting part. After that, she has listed all of her main plots and subplots. These include:
  • The prophesy (the main plot of Voldemort being after the prophesy, Harry's glimpses into Voldy's mind, etc.)
  • Cho/Ginny (the main romantic plot/love triangle)
  • The DA (also includes Umbridge, etc.)
  • Order of the Phoenix
  • Snape and Harry's Father
  • Hagrid and Grawp
What I find really interesting is that, especially for the more important subplots, she tries to work each one in to every chapter (except when the plot is finished or they're away from school, etc.). This not only helps her remember what all is happening in the book, but also reminds her that these subplots need nourishment.

Now, I don't know about you, but I have trouble keeping all my plots straight. Even when I outline, it's hard to really tell how much I feed the subplots. This is a great way to do that. For some chapters, all she may do is include a line or two, but that's all we need as readers to remember, "Oh yeah, that's going on." So, from this I not only took away a great planning tip, but also a great reminder on how to write subplots successfully.

Hope you all find this as useful as I did!
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