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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > October 2017 > How do they do it?

How do they do it?

Author Amy Sparkes explores how writers of books for older children get it right with one wildly successful test case

If you’d like to be a successful author, look at published books by successful children’s authors and work out WHY their stories work and HOW you can use that information to develop your own writing.

Last month we looked at picture books, and this month we’re looking at writing for older children. We’ll be studying the phenomenally successful Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling (Bloomsbury). If you haven’t already, read the book before this article as there will be spoilers galore!


Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is packed with memorable characters. Although the ‘roles’ of the main characters are quite traditional (outcast hero, hero’s sidekick 1, hero’s sidekick 2, mentor, antagonist, antagonist’s sidekick, etc.), the characters themselves feel very original. Harry Potter himself is memorable as ‘the boy who lived’, and his physical characteristics of lightning scar and round glasses are instantly recognisable. This is what you want: something unique to your character.

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About Writing Magazine

Competition supplement! Over 230 writing competitions to enter up to June 2018, and more than £430,000 in writing prizes! Win! Your book published by Lulu. Write your way around the world - how far writing competitions can take you. Star interview - The Commitment: Roddy Doyle on thirty years at the top of his game. The latest opportunities to get published and see your name in print.

Other Articles in this Issue