While readers waited on J.K. Rowling to deliver the last book of her Harry Potter series, it was fun to speculate about what would be revealed, what twists the story might take. It speaks to the power of Rowling’s storytelling skills that the audience was engaged enough to pursue the speculations.
But what Janet Batchler does in this book goes beyond “mere” speculation. She published this book before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released.
Batchler, a screenwriter, applied her practical knowledge of storytelling to what we had already been given in the series. Set-ups and pay-offs are very important in writing for film. So Batchler takes her skills from that arena and shows how well Rowling had been preparing things from the very beginning of the series. Batchler examines those things in the story that have all the appearance of being set-ups, but which, as of that time, have not been paid off.
Some of her speculations were spot on, while others were not. But even so, I think her analysis of how Rowling laid her set-ups into the story will be useful as instruction on “how to do it”. It’s a masterful discussion of the art of set-up and pay-off.