Did JKR 'Really' Plan This?

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Did JKR 'Really' Plan This?

Post  Lady Arabella on Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:41 pm

The following is an archive of material originally posted on the Harry Potter Lexicon Forum, hosted by World Crossing, which ceased operations on April 15th, 2011
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Re: Did JKR 'Really' Plan This?

Post  Lady Arabella on Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:42 pm

Did JKR *really* plan this?
Lily's Eyes - Sep 11, 2003 5:37 pm Reply
Edited by Kip Carter Jan 12, 2006 12:25 pm

New Theory- Can I play Devil’s Advocate for a moment

Hi...I'd like to play devil’s advocate sometimes. It helps relieve my stress of seeing two different veiwpoints. OK, I don't want to rain on everyone's parade, but sometimes I have to run into a wall to wake myself up. I have posted a few responses to other threads, about certain outcomes. With all these wonderful and fun and amusing theories, do you kind of wonder if JKR had thought of all this? In her interviews, she could be saying "Good observation" just to keep up the suspense and get us to think. She HAS been foreshadowing in each book about the next ones, but what if we are reading a bit too deep? Can we look back when we reach the end of book 7 and say, "What a long strange trip its been"? Its like when I read the Great Gatsby in Highschool. The teacher (in my opinion) pyscho analyzed the part about seeing the light at the end of the dock and how the author had it symbolize something that happened in the book. She just tore that part to pieces. I thought, well what if the author wrote it just because? How do you know if the author wanted to show some symbolization? Sometimes books are soooo well written, like Harry Potter, that everything seems to tie in beautifully. Any theory presented well can pass for believable, when perhaps the author had no intention of foreshadowing. I love the harry potter books, don't get me wrong, and yes, I discuss with my freinds the possible outcomes, but I think about other sides, too. And yes I think some of the theories posted here will come to pass. Don't hate me, don't think I am a snot, it was just a revelation to a new theory in a complete opposite way.

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The Great Abbycadabra - Sep 11, 2003 8:15 pm (#1 of 82)

You know, I've thought of this before myself, though not about HP. I've been in art classes (drawing classes and art history) for a total of 6 years. My teachers have always pointed out that the artist meant this by using that brush stroke or whatever. And, knowing my personal artwork, I didn't mean anything by using a particular brush stroke, I was just trying to portray what I felt as though the piece should be. I don't know if JKR really meant for us to read as far between the lines as we have on many occasions, but who knows? It'll be fun to find out, and at least we've enjoyed ourselves along the way.

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popkin - Sep 11, 2003 9:21 pm (#2 of 82)

I think that at least one of the reasons that we can analyze the HP books the way we do is that JKR uses elements from things like classic literature, mythological stories, and the lives of religious and historical figures. These elements are so very interconnected, that a flippant reference on JKR's part may have an incredibly rich history which lends itself to intense analyzation (sp).

For instance, suppose JKR chose the name "Narcissa" just to indicate that her character is conceited. We can dig deeper into the mythology behind the name, look up the flower to see what it's uses have been, and look up other characters who have also been named Narcissa. Since the mythological figure was conceited, and the flowers and other characters were named they bear resemblance to the myth, their stories will have similarities to Narcissa Malfoy's story. It would work the same way for many of the characters and situations in the HP books.

That doesn't mean that JKR didn't do some very deep research to write her books. I'm sure she did. And she has obviously absorbed a ton of classic literature. But I'm sure that a lot of great connections have been made unintentionally.

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schoff - Sep 11, 2003 11:15 pm (#3 of 82)

Or intentionally, but without a deep intricate back story like we try to produce here.

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Madame Librarian - Sep 12, 2003 5:02 am (#4 of 82)

Great topic!

I think it can be both a planned element or not. Some authors are careful constructors of everything: room decor, character names, places, etc. All of it hangs together. Those who study literature, especially if they get into analysis of an authors complete works, often look for consistent uses of symbol and so on. We certainly have done that with writers like Fitzgerald and Austen. In may cases we have first-hand an author's own explanation of his/her methods.

Other authors (and artists) just let things flow, sort of like freeing an unconsious (sp? it's early) creativity. They don't "plan" it, it just is there. Upon editing their own work, or upon the advice of a good editor, things are tweaked and added or detracted.

I think we have a combination of these methods going on in JKR's work. In either case the effort displays a brilliance and sensitivity that we get to enjoy. Also, at this point, with her huge popularity, JKR may be tuned in to some of the ideas posted all over by her fans. Not that she ups and uses them, just that the complex machinations that we all love and analyze ad infinitum get her inspired to make a complex plot even more twisty, a character even more perplexing, and so on.

Ciao. Barb (ex-English major, former editor, current librarian/book reviewer, huge reader)

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popkin - Sep 12, 2003 6:45 am (#5 of 82) Reply
Edited by Sep 12, 2003 7:47 am

Quote from Madame Librarian: "JKR may be tuned in to some of the ideas posted all over by her fans. Not that she ups and uses them, just that the complex machinations that we all love and analyze ad infinitum get her inspired to make a complex plot even more twisty, a character even more perplexing, and so on"

She has said that she gets on the web sometimes and reads her fans' posts. I think that you are right, Madame Librarian, that it has to really put the pressure (sp) on to make her books the best that she can. It must be just awful having people post every little "mistake" you make for all to study. I know I'd want to do everything I could to avoid that. If I were JKR, I'd certainly go to the Lexicon and get my own facts straight.

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Griffin - Sep 12, 2003 7:23 am (#6 of 82)

J K Rowling has a wonderful way of giving you hidden clues throughout the books that actually allow a perceptive person (not me I’m afraid) the ability to solve the mystery before reaching the end of the book. When I first noticed these clues I instantly started looking for more hidden clues (does this sound familiar to anyone?). Before you know it every animal mentioned is an Animagus and Dumbledore is actually Merlin (that’s one I haven’t seen yet). We definitely do over-analyse the books.

All the discussions that emanate from the Harry Potter series are excellent, and as much a part of the magic as anything else. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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Madame Librarian - Sep 12, 2003 8:21 am (#7 of 82)

Popkin, can you imagine how it feels to have a character die and realize that you've made a large percentage of your readers really, really angry, sad and disappointed? It's the price of fame, I guess. I hope whatever plot lines JRK has in mind for 6 and 7 are not corrupted by what WE think.

Ciao. Barb

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shepherdess - Sep 12, 2003 9:13 am (#8 of 82)

All the discussions that emanate from the Harry Potter series are excellent, and as much a part of the magic as anything else.

I like that, Griffin!

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popkin - Sep 12, 2003 9:56 am (#9 of 82) Reply
Edited by Sep 12, 2003 10:58 am

Madame Librarian, Since I didn't discover the forums until after reading the fifth book - trying to fill the gap - I was blissfully unaware of the enormity of the fans' speculations. Once I realized it was here and that Rowling has been reading a bit of it, I have worried that it will corrupt her original ideas. But, the forums and fan sites must have been in place since shortly after the first book came out, or at least the second, and I thoroughly enjoyed all five books (not knowing that they may have been "corrupted"). I guess she'll work it out and surprise us all.

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Sly Girl - Sep 12, 2003 12:30 pm (#10 of 82)

Popkin, JKR has often said that No one,(and she did mean NO ONE) will get her to change one iota about her books. She's had it mapped out from the beginning and she knows where she's going. Personally, speaking, I think if she did read this forum, she'd be laughing herself silly at how serious we take everything. lol

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Madame Librarian - Sep 12, 2003 1:27 pm (#11 of 82)

JKR is one cool cookie. She sticks to her guns about the story and about not totally caving in to the likes of Disney and McD's.

Yes, SlyGirl, I think we provide a bit of amusement for her. But I for one am glad that we can take a slightly philosophical (and slightly self mocking) look at ourselves once in a while.

Ciao. Barb

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Thom Matheson - Sep 12, 2003 2:23 pm (#12 of 82)

If this were a single novel rather then a series it would be harder to speculate the future of the characters when in fact there are none. JKR from the beginning said there would be 7 books. This allows us to run wild with analysis, and theories which, in part is her intent. We did the same things with the Tolkin series back, oh my God, 40 years ago. Shoot we even speculate the outcome of the Survivor TV shows.

The fact that we have the internet now makes this kind of analysis so productive. I am honored to count myself as one of the faithful. I only hope that she has the sense to capture her audience with a final follow up. A Harry Potter and the Golden Years. Just to see what all the "kids" have been doing in the aftermath.

Librarian, you would probably know this, but have you ever experienced this kind of following with any other author? I can think of maybe Hemingway, King, even Clancy had their followers, but no one comes to mind with this much across the board attention.

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Hem Hem - Sep 12, 2003 3:44 pm (#13 of 82)

I think JKR's nature of dropping clues has changed a lot over the course of the series. In P/SS, did JKR really intend that the talking snake was a foreshadowing of Harry's parseltongue ability? Who knows? But in the later books in the series, it seems that she really knows when she's dropping a clue, and really knows how that clue is going to play in. The past few books have included a lot more offhand comments in the dialogue, comments which fans will interpret as clues (and hey, we're probably right a lot of the time ), much more so than in P/SS and CoS.

So for the most part, I think all of the little clues that were dropped in GoF and OotP were intentional, but perhaps some of the foreshadowing from the earlier books were "dropped accidentally." Certainly some things in the first few books were plnned intentionally, however that number was much fewer than it is in JKR's current writing.

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Madame Librarian - Sep 12, 2003 4:53 pm (#14 of 82)
Edited Sep 12, 2003 5:54 pm

Thom, I can think of few instances of fan following and analysis like this. You've already mentioned Tolkien. To that I add:

Sherlock Holmes (the Baker Street Irregulars still exists)

Star Wars (granted, a movie, not a book)

Star Trek (ditto)

C. S. Lewis "Narnia Chronicles"

Frank Herbert "Dune" and sequels

Asimov "Foundation" series

All of these took off way before the Net made it easy to gab back and forth and trade ideas instantaneously, so they relied on fan magazines, special issues, conventions (time to spruce up your Klingon costume), and fan clubs that issued mimeographed (who knows what that is?--it's an age test   ) newsletters. Obviously, dedicated readers have enjoyed sharing ideas for a long, long time.

Ciao. Barb

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shepherdess - Sep 12, 2003 5:15 pm (#15 of 82)
Edited Sep 12, 2003 6:17 pm

Madame Librarian,

I've used a mimeograph machine, when I worked in a library! Printing sure has come a long way-thank goodness! Those were hard to read.

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schoff - Sep 12, 2003 5:39 pm (#16 of 82)

So did I when I was an office helper in middle school. I hated that thing! The ink and the hand wheel! Yuk!

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Madam Poppy - Sep 12, 2003 6:58 pm (#17 of 82)

What about Charles Dickens? Weren't some of his stories written in installments? During our wait for Book 5, the Press compared Rowling to Dickens.

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Madame Librarian - Sep 12, 2003 7:07 pm (#18 of 82)

Yes, indeed, Poppy, Dickens wrote in installments for the newspapers --and--he was paid by the word!! Can you imagine if JKR were compensated that way? Actually, it's probably a better deal for her now given the huge circulation and hoopla with the films. I can't actually say whether there was an on-going fan "chat" sort of thing for his works as there was for the ones I listed above. I suppose any very popular story that becomes serialized is likely to have readers avidly discussing the next installment. What is amazing is that even today, there are groups dedicated to the Ring trilogy, Holmes, and the others.

Hey, we're teensy bit off topic here so let's do the right thing... any more comments on JKR's methodology?

Ciao. Barb

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schoff - Sep 12, 2003 10:39 pm (#19 of 82) Reply
Edited by Sep 12, 2003 11:41 pm

Well, I did post a dissection of the DoM fight scene in the "Why was I laughing thread," but I'll put a few of those comments here:

I think JKR's writing strengths rest in her dialogue, and single action scenes. She is very good at slipping in clues, and immediately distracting us from them. The CoS has a scene that talks about HRH looking at the water left from Myrtle's flood after Filch was attacked, and she slipped in a line about fleeing spiders that you missed because you thought the water was what was important. In GoF, she slipped in Voldemort's "Many would give their right hand" line in the first chapter. There are a lot of these examples. That's not so easy to do when your characters are running all over the place.

I also think that JKR has this entire world worked out. We may sit and debate the number of students, the class schedule, etc. But I really think she has this info worked out and just hasn't told us. There's so much included in these stories that that info really is peanuts in the scheme of things. Her average reader probably doesn't really care how the prefect system works, and since it's not integral to the plot, she's not going to waste pages explaining it. Yes, it would really be nice if she printed a Companion Everything You Wanted To Know About The Wizarding World But Were Afraid To Ask but her mainstream audience doesn't need it. We do, but that's because we're crazy.

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Sly Girl - Sep 12, 2003 11:56 pm (#20 of 82)

That's why I'm hoping she either 1)Writes Hogwarts, A History after she's done, OR 2) She releases her notebooks in some sort of published format, so that we can see her arc of the story from the beginning, complete with scratched out notes and things that didn't make it in.

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Madame Librarian - Sep 13, 2003 4:41 am (#21 of 82)

Having been an editor (granted, not in the literary world but in the gritty world of advertising copy), I know how much can be tweaked and improved after the fact. Perhaps, JKR doesn't inject all the lovely little clues and details right off the top of her head, but given her basic plot organization and her extensive knowledge of symbols and classic literature among other things, she does a close and careful editing of the story to build in all the wonderful things we love to analyze.

BTW--I did catch that spider thing, but, of course, later on I forgot it.

schoff, I agree that she's probably more concerned with her big themes and the telling of a grand story.

Ciao. Barb

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Madam Poppy - Sep 13, 2003 7:12 am (#22 of 82) Reply
Edited by Sep 13, 2003 8:15 am

Do you think there is any difference between Book one, that was written over 5 ( ) years and the other four books? You have to know that every word in Sorcerer's Stone must have been analyzed and sweated over.
We know that Books 2-4 were especially written under the pressure to perform and print asap. I think Book Five should have come out sooner, but that is another topic we can discuss.

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Vicky Leery - Sep 13, 2003 8:10 am (#23 of 82)

Personally, I think it's always very hard to figure out how "planned" a book or series is. When I wrote my first novelette (unpublished,) one of the most frequent comment about it was that it seemed well-planned out, like I had thought over every detail and made sure it tied together. But it wasn't like that; I only knew two things about the plot when I started: what the characters were like, and that one of them would die near the end. In fact, half of the main characters were invented midway through.

So we can't really tell how much of it was planned from day one. But we can still speculate the *$%# out of it, just because we like to. Just because the author doesn't know something, doesn't mean it isn't a possible conclusion.

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Madam Poppy - Sep 13, 2003 11:42 am (#24 of 82)

If you've seen her Biography interview, she shows the audience piles of files and scraps of paper with notes scribbled on them. She says "Some of this mass of material will never need to be in the books - it's just stuff I need to know - partly for my own pleasure and partly because I like reading a book where I have a sense that the author knows everything. They might not be telling me everything, but you have that confidence that the author really knows everything."
Here's just one example of JKR's planning for the series. Sept. 7, 2000 JKR interview.
Harry's horizons are literally and metaphorically widening as he grows older. But also there are places in the world that I've been planning for so long and thinking about for so long that we haven't yet explored....That will happen in Book 5, we go into a whole new area, physically, an area you've never seen before, a magical world.



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Sly Girl - Sep 13, 2003 12:09 pm (#25 of 82)
Edited Sep 13, 2003 1:10 pm

Aye.. good quote. So.. does that mean the Dept. Of Mysteries, itself.. or the world behind the veil?

I think there is a difference between book one and five, definitely. It's tonal..but then it has to be, of course. Harry, along with the readers, has to be led into the world, by Hagrid holding our hands. We learn as Harry does, what's to be discovered.

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Madam Poppy - Sep 13, 2003 1:22 pm (#26 of 82) Reply
Edited by Sep 13, 2003 2:24 pm

I figured JKR meant the Ministry of Magic and St. Mungo's Hospital. (I thought he'd go to Egypt in Book 5 for sure.)
I guess what I was hinting at in my initial question was whether Book 1 was a "better" book because JKR would have spent more time on it? Or, has her writing become better over the years due to time and experience?



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zelmia - Sep 13, 2003 1:31 pm (#27 of 82)

I really think all this over-analysis came from one single moment in the saga: Scabbers was secretly Peter Pettigrew, the Servant of Lord Voldemort. From that point, people went back and re-read the first 2 books searching for "clues" to his true identity. Then all these theories arose surrounding unregistered animagi and so on. All because nobody saw that particular little plot twist coming. Nor could they, really. (Come on. Be honest. You didn't know...)

Now everything in the saga has some potentially sinister aspect. I've seen "JKR wouldn't have written that unless..." all over this forum - even though there is no possible way the reader could know what JKR would and wouldn't include in her work or why those choices were made.

There has to be a narrative as well. There has to be the actual telling of the story. A novel can't be written using only symbolism and metaphor (well, I reckon Firenze could to that); hints and clues about how the story will end.

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Hem Hem - Sep 13, 2003 8:56 pm (#28 of 82)

Sorry to backtrack just a few posts, but among JKR's notes of background information, she wrote a compilation called "The History of the Death Eaters." Now wouldn't that be cool to read about?

As to how JKR's style has changed throughout the writing of the books, I think that her planning of the aspects that comprise the Wizarding World really crystallized around the end of book 3. Even though it took her five years to write P/SS, I think it is probably the least planned of all of the books. The concept of how the WW functions and its structure seems very unplanned; people act quirky and zany and "fly" to travel large distances...in general I think the nature of the WW has become much more consistent and realistic (modelling our own world in many ways) as the series has gone on and JKR has gotten a more complete perspective of the world she has created.

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Sly Girl - Sep 13, 2003 9:25 pm (#29 of 82)

Ah.. I see Madam Poppy.. what you were getting at. Hmm.. I think for the most part, Sorcerer's Stone/Philosopher's Stone is what it is- a writer's first published book. And I agree with Jackie- the first book seems sort of..less tight, in terms of how the world actually works. I think as she continued on with her writing she became more confident and allowed her world to form itself from her notes and thoughts about it all. I think that's a natural thing. I've noticed the first book has more non-dialogue parts as opposed to the others and that could again, just be her confidence at telling a story. She even admits it- Book One is more episodic and has little stories within each chapter, as opposed to one continuing theme- which she started doing with Cos and PoA. GoF switches back to this episodic type of story, which is why it is going to be a tough movie to film, I think.

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Dumbledore II - Sep 14, 2003 3:03 am (#30 of 82)

I think JKR has more or less planned everything, but apart from that she said, that she surprises herself sometimes when she's writing, which makes the whole thing more fun.

Sly Girl, you are right. I think that book one, was a sort of "trial" and then when she saw that everybody loved it, she got more confident in telling Harry's story and it got better and better with every book.

Just my two knuts.

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Half-elf - Sep 15, 2003 6:15 pm (#31 of 82)

This is going to annoy/upset people. Please don't flame me.

I don't think JKR is a 'brilliant' writer. I enjoy the books, but I don’t feel she writes as well as Tolkein in LotR, or Terry Pratchett. (though PTerry's early stuff could be a little ropey in places). I will never be convinced that she had a world and single plot line thought through at the beginning. She writes very enjoyable kids books. But for me there always seems to be that Enid Blyton 'jolly Hockeysticks' tone.

Though the books have become darker there is still something jarring about how she deals with certain subjects. The fight in the Min of Magic in OOP. We have the wizarding equivalent of the SAS and Al-Qaida going up against each other, both with everything to lose if the Prophecy is in the other sides hands, and what do they use?Stuns and knockbacks. The Death Eaters are supposed to be completely evil, some of who dare not risk re-capture, but they are hardly going for it as if they mean it. I know it's a children’s book, but the whole thing just seems wrong. (perhaps WB said- We need a big action scene for Movie 5).

While the books are internally consistent (eg spiders leaving in CoS- picked up later in the book) and the later books are more coherent as a series, it feels as if JKR was trying to tie the earlier books in when she realised how sucessful they were (why plan 7 when book 1 doesn’t sell) Did she plan Scabbers/Pettigrew in book 1?) This has changed in later books- note how there is no body of Black? This leaves a return open at a late date.

I must admit wizard ignorance also annoys me. I cannot believe wizards do not know about electricity and ball point pens. Quills are a nightmare to write with. Owls to deliver post doesn’t make sense- Think about the speed of an Owl- what happens if you have 6 or seven letters? That’s a big round trip! We never see any other form of communication, except for sticking you head in a fire, and hoping someone sees you. Can you imagine if you showed a wizard a chat program, or email? If I was a wizard I'd want Internet as well. People will now say- "that's just colour and background". May be, but it means you lose internal consistency, which means loss of belief in 'the second world'.

As Randal Helms said in his critique 'Tolkeins World' any one can write 'A green sun' but it has to be made internally consistent. There has to be a reason. (I recommend this book to anyone who has read JRR- It shows just how tightly plotted and written LotR is). Pratchett has the same problem as KKR. He acknowledges this- when he started writing there was no master plan, he was just writing, so he is forever getting email pointing out inconsistencies between the early books, and the later (more consistent) ones. He never expected anyone to map Discworld, so he never made the early geography consistent. For me the test is the re-read factor. I have read each book as quick as I could- I enjoyed the plot and wanted to know how it ends. However I have only read them once. I have no desire to re-read- I know what happens, and the writing itself doesn't engage. LotR I've read about 10 times in 20 years, and Nightwatch (TPs Latest) I read 3 times in six months.

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Denise P. - Sep 15, 2003 6:25 pm (#32 of 82)
Edited Sep 15, 2003 7:25 pm

That is the beauty of this Forum. You are more than welcome to disagree with those of us who feel she is a brilliant writer. Just don't be surprised when people here don't agree with you. We may disagree with what you say but we are not going to flame you for having an opinion.

Why write 7 books when you are not sure 1 will sell? As someone who dabbles in writing, I would imagine it is because she HAD to write them all, not just the one. Some stories just will not be denied, some characters just take a life of their own.

I see JKR compared to Tolkien often, not sure why since I don't find them similar at all. I have read and enjoyed both authors. I am currently re-reading LoTR. It is hard going, I find Tolkien dry and stilted. I enjoy the books, don't get me wrong but they don't grip me the way that JKR does. I love to re-read JKR (and many authors) but with Tolkien, if I am not in the correct frame of mind, may as well forget it.

She writes very enjoyable kids books. We will have to agree to disagree on this one too. She may be writing books that kids read, that publishers have decided should be marketed for kids but they are not kid books. The demographics of WHO is buying and reading JKR points to the fact that more adults are buying and reading than children are. These books have gripped adults and sucked them in more than children. Look at this Forum, we have all age groups yet we are consistantly an "older" group.

Sooo...did she plan this? Yep, I think Scabbers was planned from the beginning. I think JKR mapped out where she was and where she wanted to go as well as the stops she planned to make along the way. She may have had some detours that were not planned but she went with it and is on a path SHE had planned.

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Sly Girl - Sep 15, 2003 8:53 pm (#33 of 82)

Yes, opinions about some things are always subjective- personally, I think the Lotr books, while they do have their moments, are as dry as toast and I could never find myself getting as caught up in them as I have HP. Was Tolkien brilliant? Probably. But I contend it's a different kind of brilliance we're talking about here. As JKR herself said, he created a whole language and a whole different world, that can't compare to hers. But then again, her books have better jokes.

JKR never set out to be Tolkien, thank goodness. She never even set out to be thought 'brilliant'. (Even though she is) She's just writing the story that she was born to tell. And I think the existence of this forum and those like it are a testament to how under your skin her writing can be. If that's not brilliant then I don't know what is.

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Dumbledore II - Sep 16, 2003 4:17 am (#34 of 82)
Edited Sep 16, 2003 5:18 am

Opinions are always subjective, they have to be. How boring would life be if everybody thought, reacted, lived the same way. That's what make live the biggest game of them all.

The only thing that bothers me every time I read it is, why do we have to compare JKR and Tolkien?? They are two completely different people with two completely different stories. So why the comparison? Why not give both of them the same rights for once? Why not accept the fact that they are not the same, that they have not the same story and just enjoy both of them?

Both stories brought so much light and enjoyment in people’s lives, why not just leave it that way?

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Joost! - Sep 18, 2003 12:53 am (#35 of 82)

Well, Schoff, you just summed up my exact opinion about SS/PS. I think the story line (Trying to find the Stone) was pretty simple and a bit childish, but Harry's introduction to the WW was what made me want to read the next book and the next and the next and... well you get my point.

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schoff - Sep 18, 2003 12:58 am (#36 of 82) Reply
Edited by Sep 18, 2003 2:23 am

NOTE: I deleted the original post because I wanted to edit it some more. That's why Joost!'s reply is before my post.

I actually think P/SS is brilliant in its simplicity. And I also believe, that yes, she did have all her plot plans in place before it was printed.

P/SS really reminds me of the way science is taught. When science is introduced to elementary children, it's introduced in very broad concepts. Very little specific detail to them: Water disappears if left out and not touched; plants grow best in sunlight; metal gets hot when heated. It's not until middle school they learn the reasons why are called evaporation, photosynthesis, and conductivity. And it's not until high school that they start learning the technical reasons why (using chemistry, physics and biology).

JKR does this with P/SS. She assumes we are elementary children to her world. Note some of the concepts she introduces to us: McGonagall can change into a cat; Harry can speak to snakes; and Lily dying to save Harry. We find out later these are called Animagi, Parseltongue, and--well, I don’t know the name of the spell Lily performed. However, later we find these concepts used in even more complex methods: Scabbers/Peter Pettigrew; Voldemort transferring his powers to Harry (later even more complex due to the prophecy); the blood pact protecting Harry while he is at the Dursley’s. Did anyone ever think how important the concept of dueling (that was introduced in “The Midnight Duel”) would be to future plotlines? It was even an understated event in CoS.

Some concepts are easier for us to understand, so she can introduce them as is: The invisibility cloak; ghosts; monsters as wizarding beasts; flying brooms; wands and spells. From these, she can introduce new ideas that we will understand: Quidditch; Hogwarts; Diagon Alley; magical classes such as Potions, Charms, or Transfiguration.

She starts most of her main puzzles in this book, too. Several of them we still discuss fervently at the forum: Why does Snape hate Harry so much? Why did Harry survive the attack that killed his parents? What is DD up to and how does he seem to know everything? What is so important about Harry's scar? What do we need to know about Lily's eyes? Why is Neville so forgetful? Why did Voldemort try to kill Harry? Why is Harry so important?

In the midst of all this, JKR actually managed to slip in some incredibly subtle details that we will need to know for future reference, even if we don't recognize that until we re-read P/SS after her later books: "Sirius Black's" motorcycle; a strange "green" light that Harry remembers from the night his parents died; Ron has a pet rat named Scabbers; Hagrid was expelled when he was young; Lily's wand was good for charms, and James' was good for transfiguration.

She sets her characters in P/SS, as well as her methods of giving the readers information. We know that when Hermione or Dumbledore give us information, we are to trust it. If Ron is joking, then it’s probably right. Neville is an incredibly forgetful child. Snape is suspicious, and possibly not meant to be trusted.

And finally, JKR uses little throwaway things throughout her books in order to tie them together. The trick stair that caused Harry and Neville so much trouble in GoF is actually mentioned in P/SS on p.131 (Am); Dedalus Diggle, a character brought back in OoP, was mentioned three times; and don't forget about the last names of the kids sorted with Harry.

There's so much detail used in this first book, I feel I could go on forever. I didn't even mention Prefects, Head Boy and Girl, Peeves, talking paintings, moving pictures, owl post, the founding four, the Sorting Hat, emotional magic, Mrs. Figg, the Bloody Baron, “Hogwarts, A History“....

And this doesn't even account for her internal consistency! But that’s another post that someone else can do!

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Joost! - Sep 18, 2003 1:16 am (#37 of 82)

I still stand by my reply.

BTW: copper wires are hot when heated ?

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schoff - Sep 18, 2003 1:24 am (#38 of 82)

I changed it to metal. I hope that works better.

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Joost! - Sep 18, 2003 1:37 am (#39 of 82)

Well, that's not exactly what I meant. Doesn't everything get hot when heated?

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schoff - Sep 18, 2003 7:34 am (#40 of 82)

Oh, yeah...I guess it does!

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Penny Affectis - Sep 23, 2003 6:52 pm (#41 of 82)

Interesting Note about Griffins

I was just browsing a site, reading up on the mythology of griffins (or gryphons). I found this quote, and the site was totally non-HP related.

The griffin thus also became the adversary of serpents and basilisks...

JKR never ceases to amaze me with the depth of her research! I didn't know there was a true mythological relation to the feud between Gryffindor and Slytherin. Just thought that was interesting and I would share!

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Madam Poppy - Sep 24, 2003 12:39 am (#42 of 82)

Wow, that is interesting Penny. Maybe Steve should add that to The Lexicon. Thanks.

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Rose Marie Zadorojny Vilella - Sep 24, 2003 12:56 pm (#43 of 82)

Penny Affectis- very interesting! I read that too, but in a book (I can't remember the title, but it's about Harry Potter's "world"), it talks about gryndillows as well and other very interesting things, like for example; why is Slytherin allowed in Hogwarts (I mean the house). Actually I don't know if I can post this here, I'll post what I was going to say in "the mystery of Slytherin...".

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James Greenfield - Sep 25, 2003 3:38 pm (#44 of 82)

Getting back to JKR's style and literary techniques, I'd like to suggest that although what she writes is not (or not only) children's literature, it does have children as its main characters. May I further suggest that her main trick is presenting each book primarily from Harry's viewpoint?

So, in book one, since he is eleven and only starting to "grow up", the shock of discovering the entire Wizarding World means he takes it in only in pieces: flying brooms, magical spells, other wizard kids, magical beasts, etc. As we progress through each book, the style gets more mature and connected BECAUSE Harry does. By book five, he sees not only the main connections between the parts of the Wizarding World, but many of the smaller workings: for example, Fudge likes power, but is afraid to use it if it will disturb the status quo, while Umbridge is prepared to use anything to advance her cause (and the Ministry, too, of course). Snape will try to teach Harry Occlumency, but his anger over Harry seing things in the pensieve makes him gladly abandon the attempt. Neville turns out to be the one with real "connections" to powerful wizards, although Draco has always claimed to have them. And so on.

I expect that by book seven, we will see things from Harry's near-adult viewpoint, and that the plot and characterization will be as complex as those of any so-called "adult" novel.

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timrew - Sep 25, 2003 3:47 pm (#45 of 82)

I never thought of that before, James. JKR is employing a technique first used by authors such as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce (but with considerably more humour!), known as "Stream Of Consciousness".

The books DO get more mature as Harry matures, and as he sees the world in a more mature way.

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Susurro Notities - Sep 25, 2003 7:33 pm (#46 of 82) Reply
Edited by Sep 25, 2003 8:33 pm

The maturing of Harry (and friends) is unquestionably one of JKR's strengths. Harry's sweetness and innocence at age 11 to his anger and obstinacy at age 15 is evidence of her accurate portrayal of the stages from child to adult. Each book has become more complex and I am sure James is correct in his assumption that the form of the final book will be "adult" like. JKR's accurate portrayals and increasing complexity matures as the child audience matures.

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Madame Librarian - Sep 25, 2003 7:41 pm (#47 of 82)

It's not quite stream of consciousness, Timrew. What JKR is using is called the Omniscient Narrator--a voice that tells the story in a nice, clear, linear fashion from whatever perspective that works for the scene. Yes, the readers get big chunks of the story as if we are experiencing it from Harry's point of view, but he is not narrating. In stream of consciousness, the character is doing a monologue of random thoughts that are streaming through his head. It's often disjointed and weird, like someone's dream or hallucination. For good examples of this read (or try to) Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" (1st chapter, I think) and "Finnegan's Wake" by James Joyce. Honest, these are nearly impossible to "get" on the first reading, and have driven many an English major to switch to organic chemistry.

Remembering how difficult it was when I had to struggle through those stream of consciousness writers has sucked the humorous wisecrack from me as good as a Dementor sucking one's happiness.

Ciao. Barb

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Joost! - Sep 25, 2003 11:16 pm (#48 of 82)

Doesn't Omniscient Narrator mean that JKR could switch to different scenes at any time, even if Harry is not present? This is used by Tolkien in LotR and Homeros' Ilias were the reader follows different characters through the story. If don't think that's the case with Harry Potter, unless you count both chapters 1 of SS/PS and GoF, but I think we're witnessing Harry's dreams there.
Isn't the perspective JKR uses, called something like "3rd person view"? I don't know the correct English term, but in Dutch it is called he-perspective. If it were a movie the camera would always hover over Harry's shoulder.

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Madame Librarian - Sep 26, 2003 4:27 am (#49 of 82)

Joost!, I think you are right, too. The reason I used the term O.N. is because once in a while (as in the opening of GoF) Harry is not present at all and a 3rd person --narrator-- is telling the story. We are both correct. A good writer can make subtle shifts in "voice" without a jarring sense of disconnection with the flow.

Ciao. Barb

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zixyer - Sep 26, 2003 1:25 pm (#50 of 82)

I think the books are mostly in 3rd person limited but with occasional passages of 3rd person omniscient.
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Re: Did JKR 'Really' Plan This?

Post  Lady Arabella on Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:47 pm

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Lexicon Steve - Oct 18, 2003 7:00 pm (#51 of 82)

In regards to the gryffin comment, it is in the Lexicon. Read this essay: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

I think it's worth adding to the Bestiary entry, however.

Steve

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Lamb - Nov 1, 2003 10:14 pm (#52 of 82)

I've really enjoyed reading this thread. Comparing authors and their styles is always interesting, and analysing JKR's planning and development of her books is fascinating.

I'd like to make a couple of points: For me, the attraction of the HP books is that they are easy to read, yet contain enough new ideas and interesting concepts to make me think. In this, they are closer to the Chronicles of Narnia than to the Lord of the Rings, in my view. This would be entirely in keeping with the character of their authors; both Lewis and Tolkien were university professors, and Lewis was friendly and popular while Tolkien was austere and not well liked by the students.

Although the structure of the story was planned right through book 7, JKR has said that the detailed narrative is written as she goes along. I think this is evident in book 5, both from its length (which surprised JKR) and the rambling style of the first half of the book, which I think is the least successful piece of HP writing, badly in need of an independent editor's touch. Compare this with a totally planned and tightly edited book, such as Joseph Heller's 'Catch-22', and the difference is obvious. I hope in books 6 and 7 JKR will not give in to the urge to write for the sake of it, but will keep the story moving forward as she did in the first 4 books.

I love the jokes in HP, and I can remember enough of my days as a boy in an English school to know how accurate her portrait of Harry and Ron is. I can't wait to find out what happens in the end!

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Brandon Christopher - Dec 9, 2003 5:42 pm (#53 of 82)

Okay first of all I really like this thread; I think it is a great point. I, like almost everyone here overanalyze these books to the point of exhaustion. But when we write our own thought down in essays or books do we really mean everything that everyone thinks we do. I know that when I write poetry I simply sit down and write; when I'm done then I look back at it and analyze it. Sometimes I really surprise myself with my ideas. When I write an essay for my Literature class I have a basic outline in my head but when I write I don't try to slip in a million different metaphors or phrases that lead into some hidden meaning. Yet every time I get my papers back from my professor she always says "I love how you meant this by saying this!" And every time I sit back and listen to her and think to myself, "What the heck is she talking about; I didn't mean to say that!"

I'm not sure if this is true for every writer but I'm pretty sure that Rowling didn't put in every single detail in the books to lead up to or try to tell us something. Like Lamb said the length of OoP surprised Rowling. Just that should tell you that she doesn't plan every little thing in the books.

Okay now for the real reason I'm posting this; I hate it when people say that Rowling is not a great author! She uses excellent imagery throughout the books, the touches of alliteration in character's names is pure brilliance because it helps readers remember the names and helps the words flow. Her style of writing is simply brilliant in my opinion, like Lamb said again, the first half of OoP was her weakest writing so far. The thing that I like best about her writing is how she gives just enough detail to form a fairly structured picture in your head but leaves enough detail out to let you formulate your own image.

Oh, and I agree that Harry Potter is marketed towards children, the key word there being "marketed." But if you look at the adult fan base out there I don't think that anyone can say that Harry Potter is truly simply children's reading material. How many twelve olds (actual target market) are going to go out and buy a 870 page book just for a recreational read? And anyone who thinks that children's authors can't write adult style books need to read Carl Hiaasen. He is one of the best satyrical authors out there, he also happened to win the Newberry award in 2003 for a brilliant children's book called "Hoot."

Rowling did have the whole books planned before she started writing, they were in her head the whole time. Has no one here ever been walking down the street and simply been struck with an idea? Why can't that happen on a larger scale? Rowling has the whole story in her head and when she writes she simply fills in the cracks.

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SJ Rand - Dec 10, 2003 9:02 am (#54 of 82)

Brandon Christopher: >>Yet every time I get my papers back from my professor she always says "I love how you meant this by saying this!" And every time I sit back and listen to her and think to myself, "What the heck is she talking about; I didn't mean to say that!"

That's a great line, and too common for comfort.

I've seen professional writers break into two camps over this type of thing. One camp holds the writers who gently point out that they really didn't mean anything deeper, but feel free to think so if you really want to. The other camp holds writers who think that they subconsciously inserted this bit of symbolism about something that had never even occurred to them before someone else pointed it out, and then they even make up more details about it. This "theory" is even in writing textbooks now. I've read chapters about re-reading your story to find the symbolism you didn't know you'd put there so you can refine it.

One of my all-time favorite examples of unreal symbology came from the gore fest movies Night of the Living Dead and it's first sequel Dawn of the Dead. Some people decided that the zombies feeding off of the living represented folks in favor of the Vietnam war. Later, those involved with the movie said they thought of the zombies as the anti-war protesters, relentlessly fighting normality for their cause. Uh, yeah. Sure. They certainly couldn't "represent" the flesh eating zombies from a thousand other horror stories predating the film.

Then with Dawn, the characters of this apocalyptic world barricaded themselves inside an indoor shopping mall, getting rid of the zombies inside it to make it safe. It was logical because it had power, food, and clothing. All in short supply on the outside.

But. This was now somehow an acerbic statement about rampant consumerism in the modern world. Um, okay. And the scene where the guy gets his arm torn off and his guts ripped out represents how credit card companies overextend credit then cut if off (the arm (holding the credit card)) and sue for non-payment (ripping out people's financial guts). Sure, I'll buy that. Do you take Monster Card?

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Brandon Christopher - Dec 10, 2003 9:20 am (#55 of 82)

Ohhhh, you mean I can claim that I really meant to put all that in subconsciously. COOL!

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SJ Rand - Dec 10, 2003 10:01 am (#56 of 82)

Not only that, you can even correct the errors in interpretation and add even more symbolic meanings into the void. Literary, especially creative writing, teachers love sentences that begin with "You're right, but did you notice....".

Sort of the way Trelawney loves the kids agreeing with, and adding to, her dire predictions.

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Brandon Christopher - Dec 10, 2003 9:29 pm (#57 of 82)

Cooooooool!!!

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Flame Alligator - Jan 12, 2004 5:24 am (#58 of 82)

I would just like to add this to this thread. When creating, there are two forces at work, the ego and the unconscious. If you let things flow through you, you automatically get a depth of meaning beyond what the ego contributed to the process even if you plan. The trick is to not squelch the unconscious. So far, JKR has been true to this partnership. I have read many a book where characters and plots are over manipulated and end up loosing depth and meaning.

Brandon, this unconscious partnership is why authors often times don't know the deeper symbolic meaning in their own work. The unconscious is talking to us the reader through the author, the creative vehicle.

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Devika - Jan 12, 2004 8:47 am (#59 of 82)

Flame, I think you have put this idea in beautiful words. It's just what I was thinking... of course more subconsciously... my ego somehow just deleted the words!

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VeronikaG - Jan 24, 2004 7:27 am (#60 of 82)

So maybe sometimes JKR sees a possible connection in her own story, that she's not noticed before, and decides to go with it as long as it doesn't disturb the story's outline?

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DayWalker - Feb 24, 2004 12:41 am (#61 of 82)

Wow!! This is a wonderful thread. I'm not one for reading the entire thread but when I do I'm amazed at what is written.

I do remember hearing that JKR did plan these and she wanted 7 books to tell the last 7 years of school. PS/SS is the first step into the WW. PS/SS and CS explain the "rules" of the world, by PoA we understand what is going on (Owl Posts, Quiddtich, floo powder & ect.) so the major story begins, more plot, less explaining. I believe she had a giant "Aha" moment on that train 10 years ago and the whole story came to her (I get that every so often and have to quickly write down my ideas).

Oh yeah I don't think you can even compare JKR to Tolkein because beside the Wizards, elves and dwarves things theyreally are quite diffent. I'll agree with those that say HP is closer related to Narnia.

(I just had a thought, if you want to be a successful fantasy writer then you have to go by your initials. Think about it. ) LOL!!!!!!!!!

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The giant squid - Feb 25, 2004 12:07 am (#62 of 82)

(I just had a thought, if you want to be a successful fantasy writer then you have to go by your initials. Think about it. ) LOL!!!!!!!!!

Good point, DayWalker... we have J.K., J.R.R., C.S....

As for the point of the thread, I think it's fairly obvious that she did have the grand plot planned from the beginning, though small details may have shifted along the way (as noted in the "Notebook" and "Missing Weasley Cousin" threads).

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Czarina - Feb 25, 2004 7:34 am (#63 of 82)

It's quite one thing to have the grand plot in skeletal form from the beginning, and another to write the entire story. That's why I think we readers found some scenes annoying or disappointing -- filler, really. Rowling is really a talented writer to use so much humour to flesh out her books.

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Blast - Mar 9, 2004 8:11 pm (#64 of 82)

But remember what Freud said 'Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.' Maybe we do overanylize the books but isn't that what a well written book should do?

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Loopy Lupin - Mar 25, 2004 1:17 pm (#65 of 82)

Someone else also once said (paraphrasing): "Poems don't mean, they just be." A lot this discussion harkens back to college for me when the going trend in literary criticism was not to talk about the books, but about "literary criticism" itself. Myself, I believe that once a work is out there, it is its own thing. Even the author becomes just another commentator.

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Steve Newton - May 12, 2004 11:33 am (#66 of 82)

A while back a couple of people suggested that the first half of OOTP was loosely written. I think that this was one of the best of the books. (Tough choice between this and POA.) In an interview JKR says that she started GOF without referring to her outline. I think that this shows. The first half of GOF is wordy and loosely written. I don't see anything that could be cut or rewritten from OOTP.

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Loopy Lupin - May 12, 2004 11:41 am (#67 of 82)

Well, I question how much we really needed to have the whole trial and the build up to it at the beginning of OoP. The only thing new it gives us is the introduction of Umbridge and DD not looking at Harry during the trial. These points could have come to us in other ways it seems to me without taking us through a trial the outcome of which was never in doubt.

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Catherine - May 12, 2004 1:02 pm (#68 of 82)

You do make a good point, Loopy Lupin, but I do think that JKR had to "show" Harry and the readers the Ministry--how it's organized, where the trial dungeon room is, the fountain of Magical Bretheren. She also had to show how ridiculous Fudge and Percy have become, and introduce Umbridge. It would have been weird to have Harry take off to the Ministry of Magic to save Sirius if he hadn't been there before. Of course, Arthur could have just had a "take Harry Potter to work day," but I think that JKR really wants Harry to "run the gamut" by the Wizengamot. As for Harry just casually visiting the Ministry, I think that JKR had to "justify" the visit. It's unlikely that Harry would have been allowed to leave Privet Drive without an "emergency" excuse, as that's part of Harry's protection.

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Ozymandias - May 12, 2004 5:51 pm (#69 of 82)

Harry also needs to be able to recognize that his dreams are of the hallway in the DoM. Plus, the trial shows us firsthand the antagonism between DD and Fudge, the relationship between Lucius and Fudge...I think it was very important.

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The Grey Lady - May 26, 2004 6:08 pm (#70 of 82)
Edited May 26, 2004 7:09 pm

Out of curiosity, how many of us have tried to write our own stories? I'm currently in the process of writing an origional fiction (the whole 9 yards, I'm creating my own world and language). And I know when I write, I'm sitting there thinking of all the implications of my plot, examining the word choices, and analyzing all sorts of 'what ifs'. Afterall, you don't just sit down and rattle off some words, like in school essays. After writing, proofing, and re-writing pages over and over again, you know nearly everything about your story.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as accidental good stories.

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Brandon Christopher - May 26, 2004 10:43 pm (#71 of 82)
Edited May 26, 2004 11:47 pm

But wasn't HP really an accident initially? I mean she was just sitting in a train when the idea came to her, she didn't write it down or fine tune it at first. She just thought about it on the train ride, isn't that sort of an accidental story? And I think we can all agree that these are good stories. So we just have to figure out if they were "accidental."

Sure, once she got the general idea she planned it out a lot - but that initial idea was purely accidental. I guess the question here is whether or not the initial idea is accidental or not and if it is then if that qualifies a whole story as accidental. I happen to think that you can have accidental good stories but not accidental plots and characterizations.

Does that make any sense... I think I just managed to confundle myself.

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Padfoot - May 27, 2004 11:48 am (#72 of 82)

I agree that Jo could have had the initial idea of the story accidentally but that she had to work hard to create a good story. And based on the nit-picking we do to her books, she thoughtfully planned out her books before she sat down to write them. Most, if not all, problems we find in her books are small and not central to the plot of her story.

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Loopy Lupin - May 28, 2004 6:19 am (#73 of 82)

Well, I'm not sure that having an idea for a story pop into your head is really "accidental." If that were the case, then I guess all good stories would be accidental. Maybe I'm getting confundled myself, but I think most stories start with some sort of inspiration and then its up to the author to flesh it out if she can.

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Mellilot Flower. - Jun 26, 2004 12:20 pm (#74 of 82)

I'm a little shocked that it was suggested that the trial was unnecessary... I remember reading it for the first time and thinking "God, how did she manage to get so many necessary things all done in one go?" and I usually don't think at all in the first reading I want to get to the end so much every break hurts.

As far as the story being accidental... I have a ton of random images that might spark of my imagination and get me thinking, the difference between mine and the one Jo had on that train is hard work. Any idle mind throws idle things up to occupy itself, its what we do with those things that make a story.

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The giant squid - Jun 26, 2004 4:08 pm (#75 of 82)

Well said, Chloe. I've got a thousand and one story ideas running through my head at any given time (especially when I should be working Smile ), but have I taken the time to put them to paper? Don't be silly; that'd be like work. O_o

--Mike

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Ozymandias - Jun 27, 2004 7:20 pm (#76 of 82)

It's all in the planning. Anyone could flash onto the idea "boy finds out he's a wizard, goes to wizard school" but only JKR could have produced the series we know, love and analyze to death.

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Diagon Nilly - Jul 30, 2004 9:41 pm (#77 of 82)

Hey, it's probably a coincidence but I just finished a book called "Einstein's Dreams" by Alan Lightman. It's a series of very short stories about different scenarios involving time. Anyway, there's a chapter about a village of people trying to capture time in a bell jar to control it. Reminded me of the time room at the DoM.

Anyway, it's a very neat book if anyone's interested.

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El Cronista de Salem - Sep 23, 2004 6:48 am (#78 of 82)

I can difficult believe that when JKR wrote "Lovegood" in Goblet of Fire she was thinking in Luna Lovegood.

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Tomoé - Sep 23, 2004 7:57 am (#79 of 82)
Edited Sep 23, 2004 8:58 am

But you do believe she meant Mundungus (CoS/GoF), Sirius Black (PS), Mrs Figgs (PS) or Avery (GoF) to be just who they are from the start, isn't it? The Lovegood family and their paper were important to the plot of OoP, surely they were planned as Jo planned OoP. Or am I being delusional?

Edit : I get at you a lot within 24 hours, please, don't take it personal.

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El Cronista de Salem - Sep 23, 2004 8:02 am (#80 of 82)

You don't understand me. I know perfectly that Mundungus, Figg, Sirius or Avery where carefully included in the 4 books by JKR, waiting for their great role.

But in the Lovegood case, I am not as sure. Yes, the Quibbler was tought by JKR, but I think that she hadn't related the quibbler and the lovegood surname when she started the fifth. she only recycled the name. but of course, it is only an opinion. she need a name for this family, ans she recycled lovegood.

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Tomoé - Sep 23, 2004 11:46 am (#81 of 82)

We respectfully agree to disagree then, only Jo knows. ^_^

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TomProffitt - Sep 24, 2004 10:03 am (#82 of 82)
Edited Sep 24, 2004 11:08 am

From all the evidence Jo is a great one for long range plans. She's a stickler for going back through her books on rewrites and making certain the clues are all in place.

While certainly most characters mentioned and not seen will be of the Mark Evans variety, you have to expect that quite a few others will have eventual roles assigned for books six and seven (even if they've only been mentioned in Book One).

EDIT: For example, she knows the names of everyone in Harry's class. She's mentioned some of those names, but once or twice. If she needs another student in Harry's year they already have a little back story in place.

Or there's Arthur's co-worker in his office (can't recall his name at the moment), he's mentioned frequently as a background character.

There must be other characters Jo already knows and hasn't had a place to put them in, or has only spoken of them in passing.
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