Harry Potter. The bestselling book series of all time.
Over 500 million copies of these books have been sold. Every country of the world is home to at least one of its millions of fans. It truly is a gem in modern English literature.
I was absolutely entranced by this series from page one. It’s a beautiful story of a boy growing up and doing what’s right in a world that wants him dead. The movies were a work of art. If you haven’t read the books, I strongly recommend you give them a try. I’ve been converted to a fangirl.
One of my favorite things about Harry Potter is the fact that it’s a series. Seven whole books of magic and adventure and romance and HUFFLEPUFFS WOO!! But, more than that, I enjoy how effortlessly Rowling carries the story from book to book. After some research (aka excuses to re-read the books), I’ve discovered 5 ways to recreate that magic in your own book series!
By the way, this post is 99.999% spoiler free. I hate when people spoil books. They’re bookworm sinners. Subpar bookies.
1. subplots add to the story as a whole
The biggest differences between the Harry Potter books and movies are in the subplots. The movies are already like twelve hours long, so subplots had to be removed for time purposes. But what the movies did keep still enhanced the experience for each addition.
If you don’t know what subplots are, here’s a quick rundown. Subplots are mini-plots woven into the main plot of a book made to develop characters and themes. They’re meant to support the main story and push it gently along. Note the word gently. These stories are meant to flow with the story, not be stuck together on a whim, which is what makes them so difficult — and, in my eyes, really really intriguing!
J.K. Rowling is the master when it comes to side plots simply for the fact that they feel natural. Nothing’s forced, but it’s like we’re reading a kid’s diary. It’s so simplistic but still so complicated!!??? *has a slight writer fangirl moment*
There are two main ways J.K. used subplots in the HP series:
- to add tension that’ll hinder the Hero’s biggest want later on,* and…
- to equip a character for a later scene.
Think about it. Ron’s pet rat, Scabbers? Tom Riddle’s diary? Even Hermione’s obsession with house-elves?? They all add up to a bigger story, all of them. If you don’t know what Hogwarts house you’re in, there are plenty of other books to make examples of (like The Westing Game; Ellen Raskin is a magician). But nothing beats the simplicity of the Harry Potter subplots.
*commonly known as dRAMA MUAHAH
2. the major threat carries through all the books
All seven books hold some threat of You-Know-Who returning to try and kill Harry again. Harry and the gang know his return is evident, and so do we. But, instead of blatantly stating that in every book, Rowling gives small but steady reminders of the bigger problem.
In every book, characters are rumored to be Dark Wizards, and the reader wants to jump to conclusions. Suspicious characters immediately point the reader to Voldemort. Any unusual happenings on the grounds of Hogwarts give the reader reason to suspect Voldemort.
Does he make an appearance? Not too often. But he’s always on the reader’s mind.
Rowling keeps her readers on their toes. That’s exactly what you want to do, ESPECIALLY with such a long series where boredom can lead to giving up on the rest of the books. Keep your readers in suspense.
That doesn’t mean you need to end every third chapter with a cliffhanger — that’ll lead to anticlimactic reveals and disappointed readers. Just gently remind, and your readers will remember to keep reading.
3. side characters have time to shine
There are so many side characters in Harry Potter. They all have their fans and haters. What makes them special is that, every so often, they get a chance to shine all by themselves!
With a series, you’re bound to end up with tons of characters. But you’ve also got TONS of time to let each become ‘Main Character Of The Day™’ Readers really, really enjoy getting to read about their favorite character before
they get brutally murdered the story comes to a close.
other great posts on reading/writing:
- 8 Writer & Bookworm Stereotypes (That May Or May Not Be True I’m Not Sure??)
- YA/Classic Romances (The Good, The Bad, & The Tragic)
- 5 Book Characters That Are #Me
4. everything is unexpected
There are a lot of reveals in Harry Potter. So many that one happens about every chapter. Some are simply for kicks while some of them are a little more.. ‘Sirius.’* Either way, Rowling is the master of slapping her readers in the face and looking A+ smart while doing it.
The first way she does this: misleading. Vague clues and misinterpretations are just about the best ways to confuse readers and throw them total curveballs. It works even better if your main characters assume or jump to conclusions. Then, readers will have gotten the ‘correct’ information they were looking for… until you tell them it was all wrong and promptly destroy their expectations and hearts. Just like Rowling!
Spoilers for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets will appear when you highlight the following text → About 80% of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is just a game of misleading information. First, we think Harry is the heir of Slytherin. Then Draco. Then we think Hagrid set the basilisk free and killed Myrtle. BUT THEN IT’S LITERALLY BABY GINNY AND HER MAGIC DIARY BEHIND EVERYTHING?? help rowling is too good for my tiny brain.
The second way to knock readers off their feet? Distracting. Remember side plots and their magical tension/drama properties? Intertwine a drama sideplot with the main plot and bam, you can scootch your audience past hints of the reveal and let them get hit full-force later.
Drama is like the fancy decorations on a wedding cake. (i know, odd thought, but stick with me for a second.) Everyone’s so impressed by the outside, taking pictures and making a big show of cutting it. A lot of people actually forget that they’re about to eat it! Then it’s time to eat the masterpiece and people realize… oh my gosh, this is actually food. And it’s really good.
I have a sudden craving for cake.
*PLS DONT ATTACK ME FOR BAD JOKES
Foreshadowing is where an author gives small clues to hint what’s going to happen later. A lot of books use foreshadowing, and some thrive off of them like murder mysteries or thrillers. But, let’s be honest, some are really predictable — even HP has its fair share of expected outcomes. When the book comes full circle, it’s fun to look back and connect the dots that you probably didn’t even know you were given.
That’s the reason why Rowling is so brilliant with foreshadowing. She has a perfect balance between obvious and subtle by letting things we find un-noteworthy (say, a certain piece of Quittich equipment?) become necessary to the plot. It takes time, trial and error, and a whole lot of determination to become a master in foreshadowing.
So, there are 5 Harry Potter techniques you can use in your series or novel! If you haven’t already read the books, what are you doing? Get to it!
Let’s talk magic! Have you ever experienced Harry Potter, be it through the books, movies, or even Harry Potter World in Universal Studios? What’s your favorite installment? And whaT HOUSE ARE YOU IN?? I’m Hufflepuff and proud of it ✨🖤 OHH if you’re a writer, are you writing a series or a single book? I’ve always found series really neat to read and study!
Also, I apologize for insulting Slytherins. I guess some of you aren’t evil.