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From this 2000 interview with JK Rowling:

Q: You mentioned something in a recent interview about a flaw in Book 4. . .
A: Did I? Oh yes. . .I repaired it! This is why Book 4 nearly caused me a nervous breakdown - because for the first time ever I lost my careful plot - which I've had since 1994, I think. I really should have gone through it with a fine toothcomb before I started writing and I didn't. I had a false sense of security because all my other plans had held up so well. So I sailed straight into the writing of Four, having just finished Azkaban. I had written what I thought at the time was half the book - it turns out now to have been about a third of the book - and I realised there was this big hole in the middle of the plot and I had to go back and unpick and redo. That's part of the reason it's longer than I thought it was going to be.

Q: Can you say what the flaw was, or would that spoil things ?
A: No, because that would ruin it.

Now that HP and the Goblet of Fire has long since been published, has JKR ever revealed what this "flaw" was and what she needed to do to fix it?

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    I'd be willing to bet a significant amount of push-ups that it involved maths. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 7 '16 at 13:15
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    @Richard except she didn't fix that. Or any of the other obvious plot holes, eg why he didn't make the portkey anything that Harry touched every day, rather than something he had to win a contest to touch. – Daniel Roseman Jan 7 '16 at 13:28
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    @DanielRoseman - I thought it was reasonably obvious that Harry had to die in a place where he couldn't be observed, – Valorum Jan 7 '16 at 13:47
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    @Richard I think it was more that Harry had to die in a way that wouldn't arouse suspicion. A student randomly turning up dead in the castle is going to bring up a lot of questions. A student returning from one of the Triwizard tasks - especially one where nobody can see what's going on - as a corpse doesn't raise as many. Burn the body a bit, let Nagini take a few bites, and it might look like he just had a bad run-in with a Blast-Ended Skrewt. He obviously couldn't just disappear entirely. – Anthony Grist Jan 7 '16 at 14:04
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    I know you just copied and pasted, but "fine toothcomb" is making me laugh thinking about someone trying to comb their teeth. – Kevin Jan 7 '16 at 17:28
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I thought about this issue too and researched some time ago. I found half of the answer but not the whole one. So JKR told us in BBC Newsround, 7/8/2000 interview there are two plot holes.

The famous plot hole. I got halfway through my plans and realised there was this huge gaping hole in it, there's two - it just didn't meet and that was entirely my own fault, I should have had the good sense to go through it very, very carefully before I started writing but I hadn't.

So I'd written what I then thought was half the book it turns out to have been a third of the book before I realised that this wasn't going to work, so I had to do an enormous amount of unpicking, and in the unpicking process I'm afraid the Weasley got [draws finger across her throat]

First part is Ron's cousin Mafalda Weasley, it was explained in this interview. Ginny was supposed to be first girl born in the Weasley family in several generations.

You sat on the title for a long time, too.

JKR: The title thing was for a much more prosaic reason: I changed my mind twice on what it was. The working title had got out – 'Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament.' Then I changed Doomspell to Triwizard Tournament. Then I was teetering between Goblet of Fire and Triwizard Tournament. In the end, I preferred Goblet of Fire because it's got that kind of “cup of destiny” feel about it, which is the theme of the book.

Was this the hardest book you've had to write so far?

JKR: Easily.

Why?

JKR: The first three books, my plan never failed me. But I should have put that plot under a microscope. I wrote what I thought was half the book, and “Ack!” – huge gaping hole in the middle of the plot. I missed my deadline by two months. And the whole profile of the books got so much higher since the third book; there was an edge of external pressure.

And what exactly was that gaping hole all about?

JKR: I had to pull a character. There you go: “the phantom character of Harry Potter.” She was a Weasley cousin [related to Ron Weasley, Harry's best friend]. She served the same function that Rita Skeeter [a sleazy investigative journalist] now serves. Rita was always going to be in the book, but I built her up, because I needed a kind of conduit for information outside the school. Originally, this girl fulfilled this purpose.

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    And thanks, nice find! Not sure if I believe JKR - the cynic in me says it's much more likely that she mentioned a plot hole, couldn't fix it, and invented this story about a character to cover up in the hope people wouldn't notice all the actual plot holes. I mean, an extra character is not a bloody plot hole! Not your fault though, so +1 :-) – Rand al'Thor Jan 7 '16 at 13:35
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    @randal'thor: indeed, seems to be a trivial issue rather than something that involved rewriting half the book. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jan 7 '16 at 13:40
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    Well she did say there is another lot hole, she just did not reveal it. I mean there are numerous plot holes in HP books starting with why Weasley twins never saw Peter Pettegrew on the Marauder's map, for Christ sake he slept with their brother in same bed for 3 years. Also Tournament itself was stupid, imagine waiting two hours and looking at nothing by water in second task or looking at outside of maze for hours waiting for them to get out. Also why Barty Crouch Jr. didn't just kidnap Harry at beginning of year with some other object that was made portkey. – Vanja Vasiljevic Jan 7 '16 at 13:42
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    @randal'thor The first book in that trilogy was originally published in 2000 (a quick Google doesn't provide an exact date), as far as I can tell. Goblet of Fire was first published in July of the same year. Unless there was a lot of publicity surrounding the release of the first book in the Doomspell trilogy before it was published - I've personally never heard of it or its author - I'm not sure there would have been much of a case for being sued, especially since it's an awfully generic name. Not hard to believe that two fantasy writers came up with it independently. – Anthony Grist Jan 7 '16 at 13:59
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    @randal'thor I'm guessing there's more to the "I had to pull a character" than she is admitting. (As in, not just because the character was a Weasley and a female) Normally, you'd think you could change the name, make it a "friend of the Weasley's", and keep the general character, but apparently the entire character concept didn't work with the plot. Whatever the reason is probably the 2nd hole. – DoubleDouble Jan 7 '16 at 22:16

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