JK Rowling’s Handwritten Spreadsheet for The Order of the Phoenix

I always find it interesting to examine other writers’ methods, and handwritten notes can often be more insightful than hearing an author being interviewed. As you can see, this spreadsheet shows how J.K. Rowling structured part of the fifth Harry Potter novel The Order of the Phoenix, and the chapter numbers, months and headings are listed down the first three columns. Continuing along the top are various elements of the story that she wanted to evolve throughout the book, with the key points being catagorised in one, followed by the various subplots: “PROPHECY” refers to the ongoing saga of Voldemort and Harry, “Cho/Ginny” is the romantic development, “D.A.” is predominately centred around the Hogwarts pupils forming Dumbledore’s Army, “O of P” is the adults’ alliance, “Snape/ Harry + father” contains the revelations disclosed within their lessons together, and “Hagrid & Grawp” obviously signals where she wants the two giants to fit in with the rest of it. Each strand has to correlate with each other and sometimes overlap to make sure that the completed book doesn’t feel segregated and detached, and there needs to be movement and resolutions within all of them. I’d be interested to see Rowling’s early notes on how she was proposing to structure the entire series; how detailed did she make them and in what ways did they alter in the finished product.

JK Rowling Harry Potter structure notes

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