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Ghost Plots

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Ghost Plots are aspects of a story which are altered or omitted from a book before it goes to print.


J. K. Rowling used the term 'Ghost Plots' for the stories that never mentioned or yet published in any books.[1] JKR indicated that Ghost Plots tended to be "superfluous to requirements" "had to be sacrificed for the bigger story". Thus, Ghost Plots tended to be more peripheral or tangential to the story making them a hindrance to a tighter more focused plot. Sometimes JKR originally had two characters playing the same role making one of them redundant.

Some Ghost Plots were removed quite early in writing process, while others were removed later (as indicated when JKR accidentally gave details of ghost plots in answer to fan questions). It is possible that some of what appear to be red herrings [2] were remnants of ghost plots removed further along the writing process.

Known Ghost plots


JK Rowling's assertion that she sometimes included a "throw-away detail" from a ghost plot in the books indicates that ghost plots do not necessarily fit neatly into the canon versus non-canon dichotomy. One of these "throw-away details" was Harry overhearing Dean Thomas explain that he did not know whether his biological father was a wizard or not because he left when Dean was a baby. The ghost plot that was cut would have had Dean discovering that his biological father was a wizard and why he left. Thus, it made sense for JK Rowling to include a remnant from a known ghost plot in the book. The part of the ghost plot where Dean discovers the truth about his father is not canon because, according to the conversation in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dean doesn't discover the truth about his father.

Not all known ghost plots were removed because they were peripheral to the main story. Arthur Weasley's death was removed from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix because JKR decided she wanted one of the few good fathers in the books to live. The removal of this ghost plot did not shorten the story since the circumstances which may have caused Arthur's death — a bite from Nagini while he was hidden in the Hall of Prophecy at the Ministry — remained intact. The need to cover up the circumstances under which Arthur was bitten would exist whether he lived or died, so would Sirius Black's explanation to the Weasley twins as to why they could not see their father, who might be dying, until after the hospital contacted their mother.

Removing Arthur's death plot did mean that, not only did any reference to Arthur being dead needed to be scrubbed from the rest of the series, but that Arthur also had to make at least an appearance in other books — meaning that he had to be written in and given things to do or say. It is not know whether JK Rowling invented a part for Arthur in subsequent books from scratch or whether she borrowed bits and pieces of storyline for him originally assigned to other characters.

Sometimes JK Rowling took questions concerning the books either before a particular ghost plot had been removed or while momentarily forgetting that it had been removed. Subsequently, she admitted on Pottermore that when she said something in an interview that did not match the book, it was due to a ghost plot.

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