Fantasy Writing Course

Empower Your Words Today

Personal Development for Writers

‘I would like to be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.’
~JK Rowling

Commit to Becoming a Writer

On January 11th 2007, JK Rowling was penning the very last words of the final Harry Potter book - The Deathly Hallows.  It marked the end of a period of seventeen years of writing.

Although we know JK Rowling best for Harry Potter, it is true to say she always wanted to be a writer.


An Author by Age Six

Born in 1965 in Yate of South Gloucestershire, Joanne Kathleen Rowling (often still referred to by family and close friends as Jo) grew up in a household where literature was revered and enjoyed by all of her immediate family members.  ‘There were always plenty of books in our house, because my mother was a passionate bibliophile,’ said Jo in one early interview.


Picture - A river otter mates for life

Persevere with Determined Effort

JK Rowling's mother died at the end of 1990, following a ten-year battle with multiple sclerosis. 

Following her mother’s passing, she moved to Portugal to teach English as a second language. There she met her first husband, Jorge.  ‘They talked about literature. Joanne invariably had The Lord of the Rings with her,’ confirms both her friend, Maria Ines, and her lover, Jorge.  Jorge proposed to Jo on August 28, 1992 and they married shortly afterwards. Their daughter Jessica was born in July, 1993. Unfortunately, by November, the marriage had reached breaking point.  After one stormy row, JK Rowling fled with baby Jessica to her sister who was living in Edinburgh. The following year, she filed for a divorce.

While dealing with all of these emotional and mental challenges, she began to direct all her energy to finishing the only work that mattered to her.  In 1995 she finished the first book, and two years later, The Philosopher's Stone was published.

Picture - Surviving the Dementors or Black Riders

Train to be a Master Writer

The author of Harry Potter is undoubtedly a wordsmith—that is, one who is an expert of language.  JK Rowling knows the origins of words and how they are grouped together to form word families. 

The word sentence comes from the Latin word sententia, which means a way of thinking.  Good writing is clear and easily understandable writing.  It is born from logical thinking and communicated in a logical format.  You might find that it takes some time to acquire this skill, but with practice you will improve.

Learn about sentences here.

No doubt, she developed a love of the English language in all its rich diversity from her time abroad and at university.  She also had knowledge of German, French and Portuguese languages.  When she learnt the classics, she would have perhaps included Greek and Latin in her studies.  Her knowledge would have given her a veritable fountain of language to draw upon in her later writing.

Picture - The Importance of Education

Pay Attention to Detail

In this section, I shall be talking about three associated traits of an author:

  • Attentiveness to detail – a mindset
  • Research – a skill
  • Organization – a skill


In an interview with one of Jo’s old school friends, Carl Wood, I asked him the following question: ‘Can you think of a quality that she had in sixth form that remains with her today?’

He replied: ‘Her attention to detail.’

We get the sense from reading Harry Potter that if JK Rowling doesn’t know the answer to something, she will research the subject thoroughly until she finds the answer, just like Hermione visiting the library, or Harry knowing where everyone was standing from gazing at his Marauder’s Map. 

Picture - Notebooks are a Writers Best Friend

Read, read, read

'A bookish child...'

"The best way to learn about style, characterisation and plot construction is to read as much as you possibly can. You will probably find that you start to imitate your favourite authors, but this is a good learning process and your own style will come eventually."

JK Rowling has used the Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable for some of her character names.

She took the Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien everywhere she went whilst in Portugal.

She would reputedly read the six Jane Austen novels in rotation.

And the other two books she has repeatedly mentioned are Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford and The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.

Picture - JK Rowling's Most Influential Books

The Oxford Professor of Anglo-Saxon Literature

JRR Tolkien was a man for whom fantasy and reality were two concepts that were both heavily reliant upon each other, in so much as one nourished the other. Through his extensive studies of Anglo Saxon and Welsh mythology, combined with his experiences of war, he created several works of fantasy fiction that have been celebrated for their depth and intricacy to this very day.

Without Tolkien's academic pursuits and his unabated thirst for knowledge these works could never have been so rich and detailed. We need only look back to his high school days to see how, even at an early age, he was fascinated with language. Not just with learning to speak a language but learning the roots of the language, the origins and the reasons the language came to be.

Picture - Oxford University