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Thursday, October 11, 2012

HOW TO BE THE NEXT JK ROWLING

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If you want to see Shelly Akron's Cover reveal, go here:

http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com/2012/10/at-meiloris-secondhand-shoes-cover.html

Ghost of Samuel Clemens here.

No, I am not here to decry JK Rowling's first non-Potter book. 

The poor women is learning why Harper Lee never wrote another novel after TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

Don't look at me like that.  Oh, all right, children.  I will tell you what I think:

The Casual Vacancy stirs in me whatever is the opposite of the emotions evoked by the Harry Potter series:

a dismaying sense of human weakness, selfishness and gossipy stupidity, rather than admiration for people’s courage, perseverance, loyalty and … duty.

If I want that, I can just watch tonight's Presidential Debate!

Now back to that Rowling gal!

Watching over Roland as he sleeps like a soggy log, having driven 300 miles, I read on his laptop what she said to the question : "How can a writer get published today?"

Her answer? Lord, if she didn't have such pretty legs, I'd strangle her!

"Why, they should write something that the publishers wish to publish."

"You think?!"

That reporter might as well have asked a man hit by lightning how to predict the rain.

I was a reporter long before I was a writer, and a reporter learns: don't pay no mind to what they say, study on what they do.

So let's study on the 4 things that Rowling gal did write, ah, I mean right:

1.) Planning -


This is by far the most underrated of the steps in the writing process. And in the final wash up it is absolutely the most important.

It was 1990 and Jo Rowling was on a train between Manchester and London. Harry literally strolled fully formed into her mind while she was gazing out the train window at a field full of cows. (I am too much a gentleman to use the line that occurs to me.)

She spent the next four hours (the train was delayed) imagining Harry, the world he inhabited, the friends and enemies he had there and the dangers and joys he may encounter there. She had nothing to write on so had to be content to play this all out in her imagination. By the time she got off the train in London, the central cast of characters were already cemented in her mind.

But did she go home and immediately begin scribbling a story with these characters?

No, she didn’t.

She spent five years, yes that’s right FIVE YEARS creating and developing every last detail of the wizarding world, including government and education systems, how the wizarding world stood shoulder to shoulder with the muggle world, and she devised a highly sophisticated system of magic that would eventually form the backbone of her own special brand of writing magic.

On top of this she sculpted out the entire story, planning the details and events of all the seven books, before she put pen to paper to begin writing the first.

Would you set sail on the seas without a compass? Well, children, writing is as rough a sea as I've traversed!

JK Rowling planned the Harry Potter series for five years before she put pen to paper on the first book She wrote the entire first book, and felt as though she were “carving it out of this mass of notes”.

All the planning was worth it. She was able to devote herself to the actual task of writing, knowing that all the story and character elements she needed were covered.

2.) Writing -

When you are writing, you are just writing. You are not planning, you are not editing. You are writing. Once you have planned your story, it is time to sit down and write it.

JK Rowling planned the Harry Potter series for five years before she put pen to paper on the first book She wrote the entire first book, and felt as though she were “carving it out of this mass of notes”.

All the planning was worth it. She was able to devote herself to the actual task of writing, knowing that all the story and character elements she needed were covered. When you do that, children, the words just flow.

3.) Rewriting -

JK Rowling rewrote the opening chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone a total of 15 times.

Her mother died just 6 months after her first attempt at Chapter One of that book, and that sent her into a frenzy of rewriting, essentially changing everything.

The Potter books are about death, there is no doubt about that, and they are driven particularly by the death of Harry’s parents and his miraculous survival.

When JK Rowling experienced such a major turning point in her own life, she rewrote the story to reflect and process her own pain.

Ernest Hemingway keeps telling me that you only write to rewrite. DH Lawrence even said that he wrote his entire first draft, threw it away and then started again from scratch.

4.) Editing -

Editing is the process of refining and polishing your manuscript. This part of the process may be done by you, or by a professional editor. It is often wise to have an editor look over your work before submitting it for publication as it is extremely difficult to get the distance you need from your own work to see where it can be improved.


Writing a book is a process, never forget that, fellow dreamers. Each step in the process is unique but necessary. Don’t mix 'em, and certainly don’t attempt to skip any steps. Do that at your own peril.

J K Rowling, bless her heart, meant well with that reporter. But before you attempt your next novel, don't listen to the little lady. Follow the four steps she took in her own writing process:

planning, writing, rewriting and editing, and be sure you give each step its due.

Who knows? The lightning may strike you!
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{This image of me and Nikola Tesla in his lab is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
This applies to Australia, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.}
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Oh, children, this here is a movie so bad, even a ghost like me laughed til tears came to my eyes. But my humor always was a tad on the cruel side :

4 comments:

  1. I certainly didn't know all that background info on JK Rowling.

    I'm sure she wants to write for adults, it's a natural progression. But proficiency in one type of writing doesn't always mean excellence in all writing.

    It's hard for me to have sympathy for someone successful who could publish her own books.

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  2. D.G.:
    From her adult venture, JK has developed a bitter, sardonic view of humanity. Fame, I guess, has its consequences.

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  3. Nice post, Roland. A lot to think about.

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  4. Hi Roland - I'm glad you've read the book ... I've seen other media coverage expressing similar ideas to yours. Yet I came across another blogger (can't for now quite remember who!!), who had a positive and different point of view .. and I was impressed with her take on it.

    I'll link across when I find her again!

    I hope to read the book sometime - preferably via someone else's copy! Cheers Hilary

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