When reading the Harry Potter series, I couldn't help but notice: Harry destroyed Tom Riddle's diary with a basilisk fang, and later in the series we find out that its poison can be conveniently used to destroy Horcruxes, and the diary was conveniently one of those Horcruxes.

With example above, I came up with a possible chain of logic: Destroy the diary with a fang to make Harry cool -> make diary a Horcrux -> Horcrux can be destroyed with basilisk poison because it was used in a previous book).

All above led me to this question: Is there any information on how was the plot of the Harry Potter series developed? Did Rowling already make an outline for the plot of the entire story, and was just modifying it as time went on; or was she creating the plot of the next book based on what she wrote before, and then just tied all the knots together?

  • Or with the creation of Horocruxes as per the novel, JK thought it would be logical to make the diary one. Which, of course, would have to mean they can be destroyed by Basalisk fangs. Doesnt seem very "coincidental". She had literally already published the fact that the diary was destroyed by the fang..
    – Gnemlock
    Jul 31 '17 at 5:40
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    As it stands, I think this question is too broad to be concisely answerable. It sounds like you want to know the story behind the diary being a Horcrux so consider editing your post/title to make the question more specific. Jul 31 '17 at 10:10
  • @TheDarkLord The Question was how Harry Potter series were developed: was it already pre-developed and modified as time went on, or was it adapted to already published parts of the story? My example with diary and fang was just to show what exactly led me to that question. Jul 31 '17 at 14:23
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    I think you are looking for a timeline of what JK Rowling had plotted out, and when, v.s. what she figured out during the writing. It's a perfectly reasonable request, but I suspect such a thing does not exist -- you will, at best, find references to individual items that she says she planned from the beginning, or planned at such and such a time. The creative process isn't normally friendly to tracking and logging, at least for neophyte writers, as she's admitted she was when she started.
    – K-H-W
    Jul 31 '17 at 18:10
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    She did.. but she was a new enough writer that you are likely to get a lot of mixed answers, and many that contradict each other. Part of the problem is what she REMEMBERS writing, v.s. what she wrote, and what she has notes on. More experienced writers often have far better notes on their writing process, but remember -- she was new to this whole thing, and learning as she went. Don't hope for too much accuracy; people's memories tend to fill in what makes sense to them that they 'must have thought', regardless of what they actually did. It is worthwhile, just take it with a grain of salt.
    – K-H-W
    Jul 31 '17 at 18:19

I'm sure someone can answer this better, but until then... J. K. Rowling took 5 years to develop the world of Harry Potter. I'm not sure if it's confirmed, but it is certainly implied that in this time she planned out the majority of what was going to happen.

However, Rowling also confirmed that much of 'the Half-Blood Prince' was originally used in 'the Chamber of Secrets'. This implies that the story naturally progressed as she wrote, but from the offset of writing, she always had a through and thought out plot in her mind.

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    I've seen her say 'she forgot the notebook' when asked a plot-related question... Sounds like she sketched it out in something like that first. Jul 31 '17 at 7:18
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    @marcellothearcane - I've always considered that to be a cute way of saying 'eh...I don't remember / I'm not going to answer that'
    – NKCampbell
    Jul 31 '17 at 14:42
  • @NKCampbell oh okay! Jul 31 '17 at 18:32

If you study the writing process, and it is a process, it is iterative. Meaning that you once you "finish" the process, you go back and make adjustments.

The first iteration that is commonly used is to write an out line, first of the general and overarching plot lines for the whole series, then for the book you are currently working on.

The next iteration is to write the book, as many authors put it, get the bones down, you don't worry about changes you make on the way, you write the complete book.

The subsequent iterations, you adjust the book, incorporating changes that you need to, adding detail, removing detail, sometimes cutting material for later use. Why do you need to change things? because, the outline was just an outline, but when writing the prose, you may find that something would work better, then ten or twenty pages later, you change your mind. This is why you write the whole book before changing things, because in the next chapter you may decide that the original concept was better.

Once the author is satisfied, they pass the manuscript on to the editing staff. They read the book and suggest changes, as questions that prompt changes, and make general grammar corrections. Again, this may occur multiple times until all parties are satisfied.

Even with these iterations, errors and misunderstandings creep in. Jordan, who is noted for doing extensive research, had gotten the uses of quenching agents backwards in his first print of one of his books. This was changed in later printings.

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    I think the questioner was looking for something more specific than a generic description of the editing process. Jul 31 '17 at 23:46

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