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Write Like J. K. Rowling

Updated on August 13, 2015

J. K. Rowling is known by everyone as the author of the Harry Potter books, the fastest selling book series of all time. Everyone knows who Harry Potter is.

But this is not an analysis of the success of Harry Potter. This is an analysis of Rowling's writing. What is it about it that we love? And what can you do to make your story more fluent, more developed and more complex and realistic? What can you do to make your writing better?


Did you know that Rowling spent five years outlining the plot in all seven Harry Potter books? Think about it. How else could she have left clues to the storyline of the final book already in book one? How else could she have left hidden clues and details buried everywhere that you would make a whole lot of sense after you read the final book?

She knew everything. She knew the story of every single character. She created her own world and knew everything about it as if it was actually real.

Now Some writers outline before they start writing and others simply start writing and go with whatever they think of next. I'm not saying you should change your habits if you're not used to outlining before you start every story. If it doesn't work for you don't do it. But do consider where you want to go with the story, who the characters are, which events led up to what your story is about and how everything is going to happen. It is good to have a plan or at least just some idea of where you plan on taking your story. You create less accidental plot holes that way.

Outlining sure worked for J. K. Rowling. It gave her some rules to follow and it helped keep her story on track.

Know Your Characters

Your characters have to be as realistic as real people. That means you have to get into their head and know their every thought. Not just for the narrator, which tells the story but also the other characters. Learn everything about them. You have to know them as well as you know your parents, siblings and best friends. Or actually you have to know them like you know yourself, or even better than that. Because if you don't how can you know what their next move is going to be?

Take Snape as an example. There are so many layers to his personality and he is probably the most complex character in the series. First everyone was convinced he was evil, then he was not, and then he was and then he was suddenly good. Now there is more to it than simply good or bad of course but my point is he was on the good side in the end.

Or Dumbledore who we found out had a dark past and wasn't as good as he was made out to be.

Write down everything there is to know about your character, looks, name, family members, how was their childhood, does your character have any fears? Any weaknesses, any particular talents? All those things are important. You have to know them all and more.

Keep it Simple

Don't try to decorate your writing with fancy words and language only used by professors. If your general writing style is more on the lyrical side than the epic side then go for it but don't try to add in some fancy language to try and make your work better because it'll do the exact opposite. Include descriptions of people and places for sure but don't overdo it.

Just tell it like it is, a hammer is a hammer and a nail is a nail, no need to find another word for it just for the sake of sounding artistic. Focus on telling the story.

Do Your Research

Research the topic you want to write about. Do a lot of research. J. K. Rowling did a lot of research for the names of her characters and the incantations used in the books, most of them originate from latin. And let's not forget the mythological creatures she included in the books, which are not all of her creation.

It doesn't matter if you write about wizards or - let's say teens with eating-disorders, you have to do your research so your story can be accurate and realistic.

Be Realistic

Yes, Rowling's most famous book was about wizards and how realistic can they be? But even in the world of Harry Potter magic couldn't solve everything. It couldn't bring back the dead, it couldn't conjure food out of thin air, and it couldn't make people fall in love. J. K. Rowling set some rules and there was always a logic behind everything.

An example of something unrealistic would be Bella getting pregnant in The Twilight Saga. Vampires don't have blood and can therefore not have erections and are therefore incapable of having sex and conceiving a child, something, which Stephenie Meyer tried to explain with science but failed to do. If you pay as much attention to detail as J. K. Rowling something like this will never happen to you.


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    • Wavie profile image

      Wavie 2 years ago

      Thanks Jodah. J. K. Rowling is my biggest role model, both as a writer and as a person, I'm told I write like her and that's the biggest compliment I've ever gotten.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Good hub and great advice Wavie. J K Rowling is a great example, both as a writer and a person. Truly someone to aspire to be like.

    • Wavie profile image

      Wavie 2 years ago

      You should definitely try reading her crime series that she has written under the pen name Robert Galbraith. The point of view only switches between the detective and his secretary. Thanks for reading my hub :)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      That's probably why she's a best-selling author and I'm not! :)

    • Wavie profile image

      Wavie 2 years ago

      Well you'll be happy to know that with the exception of a few chapters you'll only read through Harry's point of view. And while reading Harry Potter taught me more about her writing style than her other books I still think The Casual Vacancy was brilliant. I love the way she writes her characters. I think she has a way of making them interesting no matter how boring they really are and you end up caring about them even though they're the type of person you'd normally loathe.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I tried reading "The Casual Vacancy" never having read her children's books. Too many characters. I couldn't keep them all straight and they weren't that interesting. This is not the book to read to learn from her. I'm looking forward to "Harry Potter."