I recently reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone after a long time away from the series. I noticed that within in the first five pages, Sirius Black is mentioned.

"Borrowed it, Professor Dumbledore, sir," said the giant, climbing carefully off the motorcycle as he spoke. "Young Sirius Black lent it to me. I've got him, sir."

It came as a surprise to me, as I had previously thought J.K. Rowling had written the book without much thought to a larger series (not sure where I got that idea).

How far ahead did J.K. Rowling plan Harry Potter while she was writing it?

  • 1
    Related: Is JK Rowling an architect or a gardener, for her Harry Potter series? (SFF) - the last part of that answer Mar 4, 2017 at 19:09
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    It may be hard to find a credible answer to this question, given JKR's tendency to spout unreliable nonsense when asked about her books.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 4, 2017 at 19:18
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    I can't put my hands on a quote at the moment, but I recall reading that she said she'd come up with the rough arc of all seven books in the same train ride, and only hadn't jotted it down because she was too shy to ask the person next to her for a pencil. Mar 4, 2017 at 20:50
  • @LaurenIpsum do please find that quote :D Mar 4, 2017 at 20:51
  • @LaurenIpsum This is the closest I could find to that quote with a cursory Google search. I chose not to include it in my answer because I don't know how clear it is from that quote that the idea referred to is the whole seven book series, or just the idea of a boy who doesn't know he is a wizard: "and this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn’t know he was a wizard became more and more real to me."
    – Shokhet
    Mar 5, 2017 at 2:33

1 Answer 1


As previously answered on another Stack Exchange site; some things were certainly pre-planned (h/t yannis in the comments). According to an archived version of Potter FAQ on Rowling's website:

'The Half-Blood Prince' might be described as a strand of the overall plot. That strand could be used in a whole variety of ways and back in 1997 I considered weaving it into the story of 'Chamber'. It really didn't fit there, though; it was not part of the story of the basilisk and Riddle's diary, and before long I accepted that it would be better to do it justice in book six. I clung to the title for a while, even though all trace of the 'Prince' storyline had disappeared, because I liked it so much (yes, I really like this title!). I re-christened book two 'Chamber of Secrets' when I started the second draft.

So the ideas and title of the sixth book were there, but were moved to a later point in the story.

Rowling has also claimed that the ending of the story was written before she had found a publisher:

"I think they thought it was very arrogant of me to write the end of my seven books series when I didn't have a publisher and no-one had heard of me."

- "Rowling to kill two in final book," BBC News 27 June 2006

There were also many plot points that were preplanned (h/t Gallifreyan in the comments). For example, she knew in 1999 that Harry's inheritance of his mother's eyes would be important in later books. Harry's catching the snitch by mouth was a deliberate setup for a later book. See this answer for more examples.


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