J.K. Rowling's excellence as a story teller is unparalleled. No other contemporary author has managed to captivate the imagination of an entire generation of children and adults. Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games, Rick Riordan's Olympian series, and Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments have all attempted to equal Harry Potter's renown. They all failed.
Recently, a rumor became news: J.K. Rowling is teaming with Warner Bros. to extend the Harry Potter universe. The question stands, can the magic be repeated.
J.K. Rowling's spell on our imagination consisted of 6 ingredients: her ability to connect with her target audience, her likable characters, quick-paced story telling, unforeseeable plot twists, effectively built suspense, and mind-blowing creativity.
Connecting with the Audience
The Harry Potter series targeted its audience with the precision of a laser scope. In her first volume of the saga, it was the simple wonders of a common child: letters in the mail, a key spot on the sports team, unexpected gifts at Christmas, and discovering friendship at a new school. Target practice continued throughout the series, with Rowling hitting her mark every time.
Those who arrived late to the Harry Potter scene, may have witnessed a Harry Potter conversation. Names fly like witches on broomsticks: Dobby, Mad-eye Moody, Lupin, Hermione, Dumbledore, Severus Snape, Malfoy, Voldemort. The reader is never confused by so many new names; rather, it's a pleasure to meet them and shame to say goodbye. Even the cast of the death-eaters had a charm of its own.
Quick Paced Story-telling
Once upon a time, writers were free to inflict page upon page of descriptive writing on their captive readers. In a world where kids spend more time in front of a digital screen than sleeping, the writer is forced to trim out the descriptions without becoming vague. Actions which aren't succinctly reported appear boring. The readership of 2013 skims over philosophical dialogues about life and meaning, good and evil, fate and sheer luck. Rowling's two word descriptions, her quick and witty interchanges, and her constantly changing scenes held her audience's attention and curiosity.
Unforeseeable Plot Twists
Every Harry Potter novel left readers mystified and satisfied. Up until the very last book, the most devoted fan wondered about the true intentions of Severus Snape: the man who killed Dumbledore, the man who was once a death-eater, the man with no friends. J.K. Rowling misdirected her audience like a show magician deceives the crowd as he prepares his grand Prestige. May 21st, 1980, packed auditoriums sat in awe as Darth Vader revealed Luke's origins in Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back. J.K. Rowling managed to garnish similar reactions multiple times.
Suspense can be hard to maintain throughout seven books. J.K. Rowling succeeded by writing her novels like classical music, which slowly rises, then swells, and then explodes with fanfare and harmony, and ultimately settles down quietly, leaving the listener in silence to contemplate the beauty of the piece. At every moment in Harry Potter, some plot is concluding, another is beginning, and a third is being established in the background. Through this steady flow of intrigue, Rowling holds the reader hostage till the very last page.
Some may dispute J.K. Rowling's genius as a writer. No one can dispute her creative genius.Marauder's Map: a blank sheet of paper at first; but say the magic words and it becomes a map that reveals secret passages out of the school and tracts patrolling teachers. Diagon Alley: Fifth avenue of the Magic World and prime material for a Universal Studios creation. Hogwarts itself is a creative masterpiece full of talking portraits, roaming ghosts, and ever-shifting stairwells. Even more outstanding is the clarity with which these creations are presented.
If the author of Harry Potter wishes to repeat her previous success, she'll need to mix the potion just right and surprise us again with strong characters the audience can connect with on an emotional level. Rather than ride the fervor of her existing fans by pleasing them with familiar territory, Rowling will need to stun again with shocking revelations and mysterious villains. Most importantly she'll need to conjure up new inventions and wonders never before conceived.
Can J.K. Rowling do it again? We'll see.