JK Rowling has written in the past about the trouble that one particular chapter gave her during the writing of the Harry Potter books. She describes 'The Dark Mark' from Goblet of Fire as the most challenging chapter, at least out of the first six books. The chapter even made her briefly consider giving up altogether.

Sometimes, even at this stage, you can see trouble looming; nearly all of the six published books have had Chapters of Doom. The quintessential, never, I hope, to be beaten Chapter That Nearly Broke My Will To Go On was chapter nine, ‘Goblet of Fire’ (appropriately enough, ‘The Dark Mark’.)
(Diary entry, www.jkrowling.com, 25th December 2005).

QUESTION: How many rough copies or rewrites of a chapter do you do before you get it right?
ROWLING: Loads and loads and loads. The worst ever was 13 different versions of one chapter (Chapter 9 in The Goblet of Fire). I hated that chapter so much; at one point, I thought of missing it out altogether and just putting in a page saying 'Chapter 9 was too difficult' and going straight to Chapter 10.
(Toronto Star interview).

Why did this particular chapter cause JKR so much trouble? Was there something about the plot or the nature of the chapter that made it especially challenging to write? Is there any further word from Rowling on this subject?


2 Answers 2


It was a problem of plotting

Chapter 9 was a chapter that kicked off the main plot of Goblet of Fire, with Barty Crouch Jr. breaking loose and starting to work on his master's return from the shadows. It must have been quite a challenge, to write the chapter in which Barty escapes, steals Harry's wand and fires the Dark Mark, but without giving away too many clues to an attentive reader.

JK Rowling shed light on her struggles with the most terrible Chapter of Doom in her conversation with screenwiter Steve Kloves. Here is the transcript:

Steve: That story I must have spent three or four months trying to make dramatically comprehensible on screen -

Jo: I am so sorry -

Steve: ...and every time I did it, y'know, everyone, y'know -

Jo: I am so sorry, Steve, because I've handed you a problem that had tortured me...because the scene in the Quidditch World Cup where you first see but don't see Barty Crouch, and you don't know what's going on, and the Dark Mark appears for the first time and it's incredibly obscure in every sense, what's going on there and trying to make that appear in any way... coherent (laughs) to the reader while obscuring as much as I wanted to obscure...was terrible. I had about thirteen drafts about that chapter, literally I've had thriteen drafts.

Linked the youtube video, the subject is discussed between minutes 26:05-27:01.

  • This should be highly upvoted and selected as accepted answer, as Rowling actually shared the true story. Jan 4, 2018 at 17:04
  • 3
    @Lefteris008 Give it time.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jan 4, 2018 at 17:22
  • Wow, it was much more different than I thought in my answer. This answer is very good. +1 Jan 4, 2018 at 19:18

I liked the question, thought about it, and this is my answer. I can't support my answer with quotes ,I will just brainstorm.

The Dark Mark is about a terrorist act. Rowling is right, all six books have Chapters of Doom , but in those chapters, there are never attacks on undefended civilians at high scale.Some examples are attack on Dudley where Harry is the target or the death of Riddle's housekeeper which is not a planned attack(I don't count attacks to Hogwarts or Cedric's death, for JKR, students are able to defend themselves.)

The Dark Mark is something different. The events going on in that chapter is something you can see in the real world. You go to a concert or a festival and highly armed(dark curses) people start attacking you without any particular target. They attack just to make you scare, like terrorism. The attackers are also belong to the darkest group ever and they put their mark on the sky.

Imagine, you are in an event, and Neo Nazis start attacking you with guns, burning everything along the path and one of them carries a very high swastika flag and you are totally defenceless. Now, JKR does not have to imagine it. She has to write it with every detail, both the attackers part and the civilians part, she has to live it.

I believe GoF is the first book where HP is no longer a children book and the Dark Mark is the start of the fall of good people.

side note: In video game Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, there is a mission called No Russian where you act as a terrorist and kill civilians. This mission is banned in some countries, and the game gives you an option to skip that part. I believe JKR just wanted to skip her own by saying

Chapter 9 was too difficult

This is just my thoughts, thank you for making me think about it(+1). I hope a better answer comes eventually. This answer is just to make others also think about it.

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