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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

What I Learned from JK Rowling

Before the Harry Potter 7 craze fades, I wanted to create an "especially for writer's" list of what we learned from reading her books. Below is my list. If you have something you'd like to add, PLEASE comment. It can only help us become better writers if we learn from the "greats."
(Note: This list is in no particular order.)

1-Size isn't as important as Story. This was a BIG revelation to me, because prior to HP, I had attended one or two writer's conferences where editors stressed the importance of keeping children's books within a certain page range, and at that time, the page range was relatively small because readers literally "measured a book's spine to see which one was the smallest."

2-We MUST know the end before we write the beginning.

3-I discovered I enjoy reading well-written fantasy.

4-A book doesn't have to be "perfect" to be compelling; i.e., I'm sure we've all seen a few grammatical, etc., mistakes, but did that stop anyone from reading the books?

5-Even reluctant readers can be "caught" by a good book.

6-Everyone loves a REAL hero. By real, I mean one we want to emulate because he is inherently good.

7-Your readers will hate you if you kill your hero. I know this, because I had those feelings.

8-Once readers are hooked, they're hooked--but never, NEVER let them down.

9-Creativity is as important as Structure.

Okay, now who has number 10?


C. L. Beck said...

Number 10: Even really good, best-selling authors can have a hard time finding a publisher to accept that best-selling, multi-million dollar book. :)

(There's hope for all of us!)

Andy Lemmon said...

I'm not numbering this in case I'm a bit off, so let me know if you agree with me.

If you write a series, have a set limit of books that you will write so the readers know you won't drag it on forever. It also creates a lot of hype as the readers anticipate the climax in the last book.

Andy Lemmon said...

I just thought of another one as a corollary to #7.

You still need to make it seem possible that the hero can die. Otherwise, there's no suspense.

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen said...

Very, very good!

Anne Bradshaw said...

And the good old setup of hero, plus sidekick, plus voice-of-reason, still works.

Julie Wright said...

I've learned that human stories that people identify with are the most compelling and draw the most attention

Josi said...

It's easier to love an imperfect character than to respect someone with no faults.

Great list Ronda

Tristi Pinkston said...

I've got a present for you! Come get it!