Wednesday, June 12, 2013

J.K. Rowling: Master of Plot

A few weeks ago, Buzzfeed posted J.K. Rowling's outline for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and it further cemented my belief that she is a master of plotting. Let's take a closer look. (Click on the photo to see the original large image from at Buzzfeed.)

Warning: this post reveals plot points from book 5 of the series.

She starts out with a standard chapter number column, followed by the month when the chapter is taking place, the chapter title, and a general summary of plot occurring in the chapter.

But then we move over to the right and see that Rowling also has a column for a plot development occurring throughout the book, the prophecy that mentions Harry. This prophecy is revealed during the climax, but the groundwork for this revelation is laid throughout the book. In each box, Rowling has written a summary of the events relating to this specific plot that occur in each chapter.

To the right of the Prophecy column, we have a Cho/Ginny column and a D.A. column, again, these are plot threads running through the entire book and, again, Rowling has summaries of their development in each chapter.

Keep moving to the right and we see columns for all major developments in the book, with chapter by chapter summaries for each.

In other words, when writing her books, Rowling not only creates a general outline for the main plot, she identifies the important subplots and smaller elements that make up that larger plot and creates sub-outlines for each of them. This enviable ability to break a creative work down into its component parts is what makes her a Master of Plot.

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