J.K. Rowling’s #1 Reason for Success

9 Oct

What makes J.K. Rowling such an incredible success?

Was it her lovable characters? Her throat-gripping plots?

Nope. Though these things played a role, by themselves they are not the answer. What was that special something that made her books a phenomenon?

She created a world you want to live in.

Read that again. It may change your writing career.

Why does everyone LOVE Harry Potter? So much that people buy wands and robes, candy has been made to mimic the Harry Potter sweets, and there’s a theme park called Harry Potter world.

Yeah. I want to go, too.

Everyone wants to taste butter beer and every flavor beans. Who doesn’t want to join in on a game of Quidditch? Seriously. And personally, I wouldn’t mind sitting down to the Hogwart’s dinner table every day.

These are just a tiny piece of everything that Rowling created to make her world real and inviting. Readers return to her books for the plot and characters, yes, but mostly to jump back in to her world.

So how can we harness this secret? Here are a few ways to make the world of your story (fantasy or not) a place your readers want to return to.

Make it Real

Whatever you do, your world must be real. It has to jump off the page. Whether you’re making up stuff like Rowling or setting the stage in a real place, make your world vivid. If your reader can’t picture it, they won’t want to return to it.

Another part of keeping it real is keeping it consistent. Your reader should be able to follow the rules of your world, and you must stay within them once they’re established.

Make it Unique

Make your world different! Brooms and wands have all been done before, but never with the level of detail that Rowling put into them. The different brands of brooms and wands felt real, and it was different than what had been done before. Make your world stand out.

A great way to do this is just to sit down and brain storm. Keep a document of all your world-building ideas.

Make it Interesting

Rowling immersed us in her world and opened our eyes in wonder. Think of all the gadgets the Weasley twins sell in their shop. They all do interesting things, and many of them come to play in the story. Do the same with your world. Get out your brainstorming document or notebook and make your world interesting, a place that real people wouldn’t mind exploring for a while.

Rowling’s world is brilliant. Seriously, how many “boy goes to wizard school” books have been done? It’s her world that set her books apart, that propelled her into practically overnight success. Take her example and develop your world! This will take you time. I guarantee you Rowling spent hours crafting hers, but it is so worth it.

What are some techniques you use to world-build? Do you have any useful tools to help your brain get going?

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4 Responses to “J.K. Rowling’s #1 Reason for Success”

  1. mcwatty9 October 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    So true.

    • Jessica Flory October 9, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

      Thanks, Mcwatty! I definitely think so. There are lots of aspects of storytelling that Rowling nailed, but I think this one is key.

  2. Rachel October 9, 2013 at 11:58 pm #

    It’s funny, because when I first read Harry Potter, I was completely unimpressed. I actually stopped after the first 15 or so pages. I came back to it after deciding that if it was so popular, I could really learn something from it. Somehow, it got addictive, maybe because she continues to reveal interesting details about the world in each book.

    Which is interesting, because usually after the first book writers have pretty much told you everything you need to know, leaving them room to “just get to the plot.” Rowling doesn’t do that, and as far as I can see (I’m in Book 5 right now), there are plenty of new things to learn about in every book.

    • Jessica Flory October 10, 2013 at 12:26 am #

      So true! Rowling is always revealing new things about her world. It’s a real player in her stories. Great insight!

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