Thursday, November 18, 2010

What I've Learned - Harry Potter Series

Since it's Harry Potter week, I thought it would be a great time to highlight some of the things I've learned about writing from this series.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: 10th Anniversary Edition (Harry Potter)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4)

  • Every detail matters. While I was reading the earlier books in the series, I sometimes found myself thinking, Why do I care about THAT? Some scenes and characters seemed like real throwaways in the beginning. Space wasters, even. Then, when I got to the last book my thoughts ended up something like this - OHMIGOD! That thing from the second book that I thought didn't matter totally matters! JK Rowling, you genius!. So the moral here, friends, is to make it all count. Don't include things that aren't important to the story.
  • Just because a book is in the kids section of the bookstore, doesn't mean adults can't enjoy it. As I've probably admitted more times that I care to remember, I avoided Harry for a long time because I thought it was a story aimed at the Middle Grade audience. After countless rave reviews of the series on my online book club, I bit the bullet and read it. Well, it was more like I devoured it. The series has something for everyone.
  • A flawed character trumps all. Not one character in the series can be described as thoroughly good or thoroughly evil (okay, maybe one, but even HE had humble beginnings). This makes the characters in the story just like people in real life (except for the fact that they're awesome wizards!). In other words, it makes them relatable. When I'm genuinely interested in how a character became who they are, I can forgive almost anything. Even adverbs.
  • When done right, a third person perspective can be awesome. If I ever try my hand at third person, you can be sure I'm going to use this series as a reference.
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
How about you? Which books do you 'look up to' when you write?

More importantly - tonight's the night! Anyone going to a midnight showing? I won't be going until Saturday night. I can't wait!


  1. These are such great lessons to learn! I loved that feeling in Book 7 when everything made sense and you realized all those details mattered--I definitely need to keep that in mind while writing!