Fantasy Writing Course

Empower Your Words Today

Character Hooks

One of the most memorable quotes from S.P. Sipals book, the Writers Guide to Harry Potter is the following:
One technique JKR utilizes to make each individual stand out unique from the others is to give each character a hook; a description, personality trait, or association which defines him or her and distinguishes them from everyone else. A hook is one of the earliest and simplest tools to help familiarize your reader with your character. Simply put, a hook is something the reader can hang their memory on, that helps them, especially in the early stages of your story, remember who that character is and what their place is in your world.

J.K. uses names to great effect, like Snape sounding deliciously similar to Snake and therefore someone to be mistrusted and avoided.
You cannot mistake Mad-Eye Moody with his prominent and erratic eye movements paranoidly checking the students in case they turned out to be evil spies.
Or how about Professor Umbridge which sounds like umbrage, or annoyed.

S.P. Sipal shows that hooks can also be companions that the character is often seen with, whether it be a human companion like Fred and George, or animal like Mr Filch's cat.
Other hooks would include ways of talking - Hagrid's accent is unmistakable... and we could go on to talk about other qualities regularly associated with characters making them unique and compelling. 

Paying attention to these details of storytelling will really add richness to your work of fiction.

Where did JK Rowling get her names from?

Who can forget all those wonderful names in Harry Potter like Dumbledore, which means bumblebee.  Or Mrs Norris, inspired by Fanny Price’s aunt in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.  Dudley Dursley happens to be two close towns in the vicinity of Gloucestershire, where she grew up.  Gilderoy was taken from Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable and Lockhart was found on a war memorial. 


‘I am a bit of a name freak. A lot of the names that I didn't invent come from maps. Snape is a place name in Britain. Dumbledore means -- dumbledore is an old English dialect word for bumblebee, because he is a musical person. And I imagine him humming to himself all the time. Hagrid is also an old English word. Hedwig was a saint, a Medieval saint.

I collect them. You know, if I hear a good name, I have got to write it down. And it will probably crop up somewhere.’  JK Rowling Interview on Larry King Live, aired October 20, 2000.