Rowling takes on screenwriting, serves as role model for other authors


The Harry Potter universe has exploded with excitement at J.K. Rowling’s new announcement of screenwriting “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” This will be her first attempt at screenwriting, and some critics may say she doesn’t have the necessary skills to screen write or that she simply shouldn’t. Yet I say Rowling can pull this off.

One of the many critiques of Rowling’s decision to write “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is that she may not have the necessary skills. However, her work on the Harry Potter films should really help her out here. One of the downfalls of the Harry Potter films is that there was too much content in the books to be included in the films. Knowing this ahead of time, she can adjust accordingly.

She wouldn’t be the 13th wealthiest woman in Britain if she couldn’t write well, and those skills can transfer directly to screenplay writing. Films are much like stories in that they have to have a compelling character and a well executed plot. She’s a great enough writer to fill both these requirements and more. Rowling is a quick learner and won’t have to rely on other screenwriters for much.

However, because she is such a good writer some may say that if the movie tanks, it could really damage her reputation. The argument could be made that Potter fans, who hold her in the highest esteem, may already have high standards for the movie, that Rowling might not be able to fulfill. She said that “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but is “an extension of the wizarding world.”

This won’t be a problem for Potter fans. Honestly, I think most of us have waited way too long for that encyclopedia to come out that we’ll take anything we can get at this point. We have all been looking for Rowling to expand the wizarding world, and this seems like the perfect opportunity for her to do so. Besides, the movie will be set 70 years before Harry goes to Hogwarts and is about Newt Scamander. In the Harry Potter novels, Scamander authored the book that the movie will share its name with, a fact that Rowling has made pretty clear.

There has been some speculation that Rowling may mention a few famous wizards, like Albus Dumbledore, who would be about 40-years-old in the time the new movie is set in – though this is before his storied defeat of Gellert Grindelwald in 1945. However, familiar names may not even be mentioned as the movie will begin in New York rather than in England. Fans will likely get into this movie just as much as the previous ones because it’s a chance to relive the magic once more.

Some may say that people will go to see it mainly because it’s the author of Harry Potter. Of course Harry Potter fans will go. But some argue that if this were someone else penning the screenplay it wouldn’t be as good.

Oh, really?

Let’s look at her latest novel, “The Cuckoo’s Calling” that she published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. While the book’s success wasn’t as spectacular as the Harry Potter series, it did sell 8,500 copies and received two offers from television production companies before it was even revealed to have been written by Rowling, according to a article. Rowling said, “Robert’s success during his first three months as a published writer … actually compares favorably with J.K. Rowling’s success over the equivalent period of her career.”

So even if she did the screenplay under another name, people would see it because it’s good, not because it’s Rowling. Besides, if she writes under another name another Galbraith incident would have occurred – it would be revealed that she was trying to cover up her name. She only covered up her name in the first place because she wanted to make sure her success was due to her writing, not her name.

Another critique is that she doesn’t need to do this, but it’s not like she sought out this role in the first place. It has been a work in progress for the year, according to Rowling also isn’t the kind of person who throws herself headlong in a project without first having a plan.

She has been reported to say about Scamander, “I liked him so much that I even married his grandson, Rolf, to one of my favorite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood.” So she already has a sense of who the character is and what his adventures will entail. The reason she herself is writing about Scamander is because, “the idea of seeing Newt Scamander … realized by another writer was difficult.” For many authors whose books have turned into movies, this has happened and more often than not the film adaptations have turned out horribly.

Take, for example, the first Percy Jackson film. Those who have read the books and loved them know what I mean when I say that screenwriters often change so much that the only thing the book and movie have in common is the title. Authors should follow Rowling’s example and be more involved in the film adaptions rather than letting Hollywood take over and butcher them. In turn, Hollywood should do their part by letting authors become more involved. It’s their world after all, and they know what works the best to get readers and their friends to come to the theaters.

Rowling taking this endeavor won’t harm her reputation at all. Sure, the standards may be high, but she has yet to disappoint and people will enjoy the movie. She is a talented enough writer to fulfill the demands of screenwriting with only a little help from fellow screenwriters. Furthermore, she serves as an example of what an author can do when she becomes more involved in all representations of the world that she created.