To celebrate the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2, I’m dubbing this week HARRY POTTER WEEK! All week I’ll be posting about Harry Potter. I’ve read and reread all the Harry Potter books, so I know how the series ends. But if you haven’t read the books, and therefore don’t know how the final film ends, be aware that there may be spoilers in this post.
JK Rowling is a literary genius. No, even better than that. She’s a writing goddess in human form. We can learn several things from reading her work:
Death is Powerful: Several people die throughout the course of the series, particularly in the final book. Dumbledore, Sirius, Tonks and Lupin, Fred (or was it George?), Dobby, even Hedwig. After Deathly Hallows pt 1 was released as a movie, fans grieved on Facebook for Dobby. I was sad, but even more so when Hedwig died. An owl. A minor character (if you’d even call her that). To me, Hedwig’s death was absolutely pointless. But when I reread the books, I realised that Hedwig’s death showed that no one was safe, even Harry himself. Hedwig’s death showed to me that each death shocked and impacted on me. It was powerful. Other writers kill of characters, but none as powerfully as Rowling. Each character, from Dumbledore and Snape to Hedwig and Dobby, were so lifelike, it was a personal loss each time Rowling killed one of them off.
Planning is Important: In Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone for the North American readers), Harry’s first Quidditch match ends with Harry catching the Snitch with his mouth and swallows it. While it may seem like a humorous end to the match for readers, it later becomes a key plot point, with Harry needing to touch the Snitch with his mouth to open it. Tiny details released in passing become plot points in later books: the bezoar mentioned in Philosopher’s Stone saves Ron in Half-Blood Prince; the reason for Dumbledore having James Potter’s invisibility cloak in Philosopher’s Stone is revealed in Deathly Hallows; and Sirius Black is only mentioned in passing in Philosopher’s Stone, but becomes a major character from Prisoner of Azkaban onwards. None of this could have been achieved with such success without the use of planning. I’m not saying that planning is for everyone, but if you want major success in a closely linked series then you need a detailed plan.
Complex Characters: All of Rowling’s characters were extremely complex and as such were very lifelike. Each character had flaws, strengths, motivations. For example: Snape. In my opinion, Snape was one of the most detailed and complex characters in the entire series. While he seems to be “just a background character who hates Harry” in the early novels, he is given a larger role in later books, and is subsequently fleshed out. But it’s not until the final scenes of Deathly Hallows that it is revealed that Snape is truly a good character, and readers get to see so much more of who he really is.
For the comments: what have you learnt from reading JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series?