The Harry Potter saga comprises of seven novels by British author J.K. Rowling. Many kids grew up reading these books in their youth and a soft spot remains for all things Potter.
Do you ever wonder if J.K had any idea about Dumbledore’s Army or horcruxes when she wrote the Sorcerer’s Stone? She planned ahead more then you think. A recent manual spreadsheet has just surfaced, giving us all an introspective on how a novel is constructed.
This spreadsheet was the main story arc for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. She keeps track of all the book’s subplots in every chapter and how they are developing in the real world of the book, even if they aren’t mentioned on the page. So, there’s a full column on “The Prophecy” which is the main subplot Harry is worried about throughout the book. Then there’s a column for the romantic subplot, titled “Cho/Ginny” followed by “D.A.” which follows what’s going on with Harry, Ron and Hermione’s resistance group “Dumbledore’s Army,” one called “O of P,” a column about what’s the latest with the “Order of the Phoenix,” a.k.a, the people who believe Voldemort is still alive, then separate columns for Snape and the Hagrid and Grawp story.
I think this hand drawn plot outline really shows us that a riveting and complex story doesn’t have to be totally over thought. A one page document that outlines all of the key events is basically all you need to construct a story.