Friday, July 15, 2011

Learning About Writing from Harry Potter

Last night, I saw the last Harry Potter movie -- what an awesome experience! [Don't worry, I'm not going to reveal anything about it in this blog post.] The Harry Potter series has been such a huge part of my childrens' lives, both through the books and the movies. Even at ages 15 and 12, they still play "Potions class" in the backyard with mysterious kitchen ingredients and potions kits made from spice bottles from the dollar store, and we have an impressive collection of Harry Potter themed Lego. I think we're all a little sad, now that we've seen the last movie. 

I'm always impressed by J.K. Rowling's plotting. There are so many different elements to the plot that are woven through the entire series, and they are mostly all wrapped up by the time the ending rolls around. However, I've never read the Harry Potter books with an eye to learning something about writing, because I get too involved in enjoying the story. (Plus, these books are my daughters' treasured possessions and if I have one too long on my night table, it gets reclaimed.)

But there are lots of places to go if you do want to learn about writing from the Harry Potter series. Here are a few to get you started:

Harry Potter for Writers is an entire blog dedicated to learning from the Harry Potter books.

Writer's on the Brink also has a whole series of posts, Learning to Write by Reading Harry Potter

Editor Cheryl Klein gives us  A Few Things Writers Can Learn from Harry Potter

Maybe now that I've read the series a couple of times, I can read it again with more of an eye towards learning. Have you learned anything from reading any of the Harry Potter books?

****** I appreciate your support for my blog. Don't forget, I'm giving away 3 "mystery" middle grade novels, and there are still two books to give away! You can still enter to win this week's prize! Get your entry in by the end of Saturday! *******


  1. There is so much that can be learned from these books. You could have an entire college course on the subject and not cover it all.

  2. I'm so excited to see the movie! I feel the same way when I read the books; I get so caught up in the story that it's hard to focus on the craft. But there certainly are a lot of lessons we can draw from the books; I love Cheryl Klein's breakdown of why HP works.

  3. I've learned that if you write a good story, it's okay to do a lot of telling as opposed to showing and it's also fine to use a distant,limited omniscient narrator as opposed to close POV (at least for MG). That's good, because it's the way I like to write too.

  4. I mostly learned that I'm angry and a little sad that my daughter was old enough to see this movie without me. I read every damn word of that series out loud to her!

    So much to learn. Use humor. Your characters need faults, and those faults need to get them in trouble. Most importantly? Don't be afraid as a writer to think big!

  5. Rowling is a plotting master for sure! And keeping track of all those characters - wow! There's a sporcle game where you have to name the top 200 characters in the Harry Potter series - which means there are MORE than 200 characters! I have trouble keeping track of 4 when writing :)

  6. Thanks for sharing this. Off to do some reading of Harry a writer, do some some learning, as a reader I love love the books. Harry as a character and her world creation is amazing. You cheer for Harry from page one of book one and Hogwarts is a living breathing setting that makes you w ant to live there.

  7. Susanna, what fun! I'll have to see if my kids can name some of them. They have all the books practically memorized.

    Kate, my 15-year-old went with a group of friends instead of the family, too. The only other one where we didn't all go together was the first one, since my youngest was too young. Yeah, Rowling does show you that it's okay to think big.

    ChemistKen, that point about telling is a good one. A lot of writers are afraid of telling, since it's been drummed into our heads that it's unacceptable.

  8. Jane Friedman had a guest poster who wrote a whole series about the Harry Potter books that were excellent.

    I'm sad it's over too.


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