J. K. Rowling’s Spreadsheet Shows How She Wrote Harry Potter

Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
.

Every writer has their own process, and apparently J. K. Rowling is a meticulous plotter. This hand-written spreadsheet from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix plots out everything from the month a chapter takes place to what is happening on or off screen in each subplot:

J. K. Rowling

The first few columns are pretty simple: chapter number, month, chapter title, and plot outline

The next set of columns keep track of the different subplots, as Endpaper explains:

  • “Prophecy”: A subplot about the prophecy Harry finds himself concerned about all through the book
  • “Cho/Ginny”: The book’s romantic subplot
  • “D.A.”: What’s happening with the resistance army, or “Dumbledore’s Army”
  • “O of P”: What’s happening with the “Order of the Phoenix” group
  • “Snape/Harry”: What’s happening with Snape and Harry
  • “Hagrid and Grawp”: What’s happening with Hagrid and Grawp

If you are stuck in your own writing, perhaps following Rowling’s lead and mapping out your novel will help.

(h/t Open Culture)

More Like This

A Mother and Son Scam Their Way Into the American Dream

Lysley Tenorio's novel "The Son of Good Fortune" subverts the trope of the perfect, grateful immigrant

Oct 26 - Elaine Castillo

The Ugliest Babies in the World

A short story by Vanessa Chan

Oct 26 - Vanessa Chan

How Playing “Myst” Taught Me to Write Fiction

The classic puzzle game, and its sequel "Riven," showed me the pleasures of immersion and suggestion

Oct 23 - Blair Hurley
Thank You!