1. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    Did J.K. Rowling really do this?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by drifter265, Feb 5, 2013.

    Did she really spend five years just planning all the books, the rules, and the characters before even the first one was published?
     
  2. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    Isn't really implausible. There are some fantasy authors that have spent a decade planning their worlds with minimal success.
     
  3. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    I know for sure that it was a few years between the time she finished the first book and the time she managed to get it published. From what she has said over the years it is not that she planned the books for years, but as she started writing children stories for her sister(or cousin or something, don't exactly remember)when she was young and since then she always kept notes of ideas for characters, events etc. Later she said she spent five years writing the first book, but during that time she had ideas about the sequels.
     
  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's quite a few places that recount the process JKR went through. From what I remember, it was 5 years between her getting the idea and sketching it out on paper, and the year first Harry Potter was published. I am pretty sure she didn't figure out all the plots and characters in one go, but she must ahve worked out at least first 3 books because it was conceptualised as a serial.
    All good books with complex plots take that long, for a novice writer. That's why I always chuckle when unpublished writers claim they can churn out 2 or 3 fantasy books a year, 10k words in one day etc. They have no chance next to novels that require a lot more effort.
     
  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    She said this, but to be honest I don't believe a word J.K. Rowling says about herself. She's always struck me as disingenuous.
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Lemex:I think she is naturally really shy and the way she speaks, she may come across as that. One of my best friends, Lorien, she is a spitting image for JK only younger, and she looks and sounds almost exactly the same. When I first met her, I really didn't like her (the feeling was mutual, lol) I thought she was dodgy, like you said, disingenuous. But then we became best friends, and I realised she is just very shy in public.
    I am not into Harry Potter, but I like her, and I enjoyed her interview where she spoke a lot about her life etc. Did you see it?
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I didn't see it I have to admit. It might be that I really dislike Harry Potter as a series. I suppose if I'm being honest with myself I dislike Potter fans much more than I dislike the series and the author herself, but I can't help but lump them together.

    As an entity I've always found Potter fantastically mediocre, but the fans have spoiled it for me and in a big way. I can't help but notice that Potter fans are often the most vocal 'haters' of Twilight, and honestly, they are about the same in terms of quality. In fact, I'll just say it, I actually think Twilight is better than Harry Potter in some respects.

    If she did plan out the series as much as she says then I am not really impressed, Harry Potter just doesn't seem as cohesive as other series I've read.
     
  8. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Harry Potter very much smacks of something that was made on the fly. Maybe not by-the-minute, but there is very little in the way of extended arcs and set-ups/payoffs that feel well thought out or premeditated.

    Not that I'm saying that makes them horrible books, but they're definitely not masterpieces in any sense other than the commercial one.
     
  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    When the craze started, I was an intern at the hospital, and all my bosses (surgeons) were competing who will read HP first. I thought it was wonderful they were going through second childhood, they were much more relaxed as well :D
    I tried to read it but couldn't get much further than first chapter of the first book. It is a book for children, and some adults also have a reading age appropriate to that level, such as my colleagues who were very technically minded and haven't read anything other than scientific texts in years. But if you like your literature more complex in language and concept, than HP isn't really that interesting. Same goes for Twilight, Only the reading level is higher.
    But I have enormous respect for for Rowling and Meyer, they are certainly very accomplished in what they do and their overall writing skills can be utilised to write any type of literature, I think.
     
  10. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Appreciate it for what it is. We just sound like curmudgeons if we diss magical vampires and broom hockey, is entry level stuff <spins dickie bow>

    HP inspired me to create a whole prison camp with guards and everything. I sent snatch squads on to trains, gathered the readership. Murdered cats too I recall, woke up all covered in pillow fluff, was disgusting.
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I can agree with that. YA does serve it's purposes, and I suppose we can't get too angry at YA when it is so user-friendly, for want of a better term. I just can't help but be annoyed by some people calling something else doggerel, when what they like isn't much better really, and then turn around and call me pretentious for mentioning a name like George Orwell or something. That is really what I object to really, that kind of tribalism in literature.

    I mean, ok, I love Orwell. No disrespect to him, the man wrote one of my all time favorite novels, but we need to have some perspective on this. Who aside from a loser like me has read The Clergyman's Daughter?
     
  12. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Keep the Aspidistra Flying - for me, but is all consumed at 19 yrs old - Spanish C War, P Larkin...we need nourishment, can't spin the same anecdotes round n round.

    Huge Orwell showcase BBC atm, but is so much comfort eating.
     
  13. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    Was starting to think i was the only one who hated the HP series :D
    Everywhere you look you find a Potter fan or Twilight, often cast you down from society if you speak anything bad about the series...but i do respect their authors as they made something (not even worth mentioning as literature), but they made it work so well for them and got to give them that, as they made more money than most of us(as in 99.9%) will ever dream of.
     
  14. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Lemex: haven't read A Clergyman's Daughter, but 1984 and Animal Farm are amongst my favourite books of all time. To call anyone pretentious because they like Orwell speaks volumes about the person making that claim. As for fans of one YA saga calling the other YA saga doggerel, it's the same as fans of Justin Beiber slagging off JLS and ridiculing anyone who likes opera.

    @Bimber: The way I see it, if the work has fans it's good work. Might not be my cup of tea, but de gustibus non est disputandum :)
    There's loads of literature I don't like. I don't get on with classic fantasy, LOTR bores me to sleep, same as Terry Pratchet, and some of my best friends love those books. I think our personality, life experiences but also biochemistry predisposes us to like certain art and dislike another. That's why there are so many styles and none is better than another. It's just different.
     
  15. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    There are lots of interviews with JKR, as well as a documentary where JKR talks at length about how it all happened for her. She spent years "exploring" the idea of Harry Potter. Never really having the time to just sit and write. She had boxes of material before she finally sat down and decided to write book 1. When she finished the the first book she sent it off to one agent, and it was rejected outright. She sent it to a second agent, Christopher Little, who accepted it. Within one year it was sold to Bloomsbury.

    I think the books are brilliant. There are tremendous arcs and character developments that exist in the books. They grow with Harry and I have no trouble seeing how the books became so successful.
     
  16. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    For what it's worth, I loved Harry Potter, and I liked Twilight. Orwell's 1984 is one of my favorite books, and The Count of Monte Cristo is my all time favorite book. I read a lot, and the more I read the more I reject the idea that children's literature (or any literature for that matter) is "below" any other kind of literature, and I reject the idea that it's simplistic. It's just different. Are there stories I've found simplistic? Sure. But they haven't been limited to children's literature.

    I found the Professor Snape character in Harry Potter to be one of the most compelling characters I've ever read. I thought the way his character arc and back-story came full circle in the last book was just brilliant.
     
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  17. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I get your point. That's why I used the term 'user-friendly' when describing YA in another post instead of 'simple'. The Hunger Games is actually something I can respect because it deals with pretty complex issues in a pretty good and easily accessible way. I quite like The Hunger Games. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are not complicated books, or hard to read, either, and they are not really 'adult literature' in the same way as someone like Joyce or Dumas is.

    Don't get me wrong, I there are some really good YA books out there, but Harry Potter I have just found overrated. And to be honest I don't think the series is very good. There are good points to it, and Rowling is clearly rather intelligent and well-read, but overall I can't say that what it actually is justifies the hype.
     
  18. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    True, Snape was probably the only character i truly liked in the HP series. The rest of the characters are severely inconsistent and most of the times dull and boring. Also Dobby the elf and the flying bike take 2nd and 3rd place. I mean come on, it is a big-ass motorbike. That flies. And shoots fire. How much better can it get?

    As for Orwell, i did like The Clergyman's Daughter and Homage to Catalonia but i wouldn't say they are counted among my favorite books.
    As for my favorite book it would be one of To kill a Mockingbird, The Lord of the Rings, The Catcher in the Rye and Crime and Punishment. Probably.
     
  19. swhibs123
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    I can understand that. I think a great deal of JKR's success was timing. Lightening in a bottle. Her books seemed to come at a time when young readers wanted something like that. Boy wizards going to wizard school isn't a new idea, and wasn't new when JKR wrote it. I was a teen when the books came out, and not much of a reader either. For some reason they resonated with me. I think one of the things I most appreciate about the books, was that they reintroduced me to literature. I understand some of the abject hype that exists about the books, but I would never be offended by someone not liking a book I liked. I do find people get that way though, and I don't understand it.

    Twilight is a really good example. People seem to love and hate it with equal measure. I think that's the mark of a great book. What I object to is people suggesting that readers who "like" Twilight must be simpletons. That is simply not the case. Nor does liking The Golden Compass mean you are anti-Christian. I'm not anti-Christian, but I LOVED Pullman's series. But I've had people practically shout at me for recommending that series to kids.

    I can only hope that one day, something I write will elicit a similar response.
     
  20. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    I think I liked the fact that Harry wasn't really special in terms of wizarding abilities. He was average all the way through. He was special, we discover in the end, because Voldemort tried to kill him. I thought that arc, with the horcrux, to be really well done.
     
  21. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    The first story arc and character development for my story started in 1979.

    Painter Willem de Kooning never really completed his famous work "Woman One." He had so much paint slathered onto the canvas that friends told him it was time to stop.

    This is a creative process, not bebuilding an engine.
     
  22. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    It wrapped up well, but all in all the characters were thin or shallow or both. Some were halfway decent like Sirius or Lupin but the majority were at least disappointing.
     
  23. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    That's more of a condition of writing for a modern target audience. The book would have never been as popular if it was "War and Peace."

    It's a very big problem for writers. I was faced with providing fewer references to the Bible's Daniel and Revelation. (BTW, most people say 'Revelations,' we have lost so much common knowledge that most people pluralize it.) Fewer people study the Bible.

    Sadly, we have choices to make. Write the book as we imagine it, and lose a large percentage of readers, or in effect dumb it down and sweep a wider appeal. My wife handed me "The Hunger Games," and I got 1/4 through the first book. I learned later from a colleague in Canada that a lot of YA fiction has a bland quality. She sent me a snippet of a book she was writing, and even her female fighters had perfect hair and make-up, but their actions were more akin to a video game.

    Having said that, her book will probably make print.
     
  24. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    A lot of literature has a bland quality. It is not a reflection of a targeted audience. That's the point, isn't it? Not reading YA or MG (MG being what the first 4 Harry Potter books are, btw) because someone thinks gearing a book for kids must mean the books are simplistic, isn't the case. There are no more bland or simplistic books written for the YA market, than there are written for the adult market. But you have to read them to discover that. You can't just have a colleague tell you that. What he/she told you was their experience with the books they read. Imagine if you based your opinion of adult literature on a couple books you didn't enjoy.
     
  25. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    That's the point. My generation was exposed to books "we didn't want to read." We were also exposed to vegetables we didn't want to eat. It's how we learned about a world beyond our grasp. Sadly, that idea and mentors is now out of favor.

    The Harry Potter books did one thing, they got kids reading. The Hunger Games stuff might have exposed kids to viewing a world akin to "1984." Both are noble concepts.

    I have no problem with entertainment that is essentially, "Come for the popcorn, stay for the object lesson." However, there's more to a reading experience than zombies and simple reading.

    For example, right outside Madison is where Pleasant Rowland started her doll company, The Pleasant Company. She was quite proud of the fact that a book was included with each doll. I guess you can trace that ideal back to Aesop.

    My concern is the instant gratification angle. For example, lots of folks love Samurai warriors. Having said that, few wish to learn how to polish blades, and I've never been able to sustain an apprentice. When the phrase "it takes a few years" is uttered, the interest wanes. This seems to be spilling into all forms of education.

    My wife had to sub-teach last year. Half of the class was plugged into iPods. These guys won't even finish one Harry Potter book, much less the set.
     

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