The Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone script is one of the best examples of how to write a franchise-launching movie. Whether you have an interest in adapting a novel, conveying a fantastical world in writing, or a little bit of both, there’s simply a ton of value in studying the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone screenplay. We’re going to look at how the script uses its characters, quotes, and verbiage to build an unforgettable world. Join us as we jump into Platform 9¾ to break down the screenwriting aspects of the wizarding world of Harry Potter!

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Steve Kloves Headshot StudioBinder
Joanne Rowling Headshot StudioBinder

WHO WROTE The HARRY POTTER Movie SCRIPT?

Written by Steve Kloves

Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling.

Steve Kloves is an American screenwriter, director and producer who is perhaps best known for his screenwriting adaptations; including but not limited to all but one of the Harry Potter scripts.

J.K. Rowling is a British author, screenwriter and producer who rose to fame for creating the Harry Potter novels. Rowling is the most financially successful novelist of all-time — although her fortune has dissipated recently due to generous philanthropy.

STORY BREAKDOWN

STRUCTURE OF THE HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S sTONE SCREENPLAY

Here is the story structure for the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone screenplay:

Exposition

Two wizards, Albus Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall, along with a giant named Hagrid deliver an infant named Harry Potter to a doorstep so that he will be raised away from the magic world.

Inciting Incident

Eleven years later, Harry is informed that he’s been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and is whisked away from his evil aunt and uncle by Hagrid.

Plot Point One

Hagrid brings Harry to Diagon Alley, where he buys him school supplies and a mysterious wand. Harry is recognized as the child who survived an attack from a sinister wizard named Voldemort, which left him scarred and cursed.

Rising Action

Harry arrives at Hogwarts and is placed into house Gryffindor, along with his new friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. 

Midpoint

Harry, Ron and Hermione accidentally discover that a three-headed beast is guarding a trapdoor in Hogwarts. The trio then subdue a mountain troll who rampaged in the halls. 

Plot Point Two

Gryffindor wins a quidditch match against Slytherin after Harry catches the golden snitch.

Build Up

Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco Malfoy are given detention after sneaking out after hours. As part of their detention, the four are taken to the woods — where Harry finds Voldemort drinking a unicorn’s blood to stay alive.

Climax

Harry figures out that the three-headed beast is guarding the sorcerer’s stone, a magically imbued gem that grants its holder immortality — and that Voldemort has somebody inside Hogwarts trying to steal it.

Finale

Harry, Ron and Hermione get past the beast, advance through a series of challenges, and confront Voldemort’s pawn Professor Quirrell. Harry kills Quirrell but is greatly injured in the fight. 

Denouement

Some time later, Harry wakes up to find Dumbledore at his bedside. Dumbledore informs him that Ron and Hermione are safe, the sorcerer’s stone has been destroyed, and that Voldemort has left the Hogwarts grounds. Gryffindor wins the House Cup due to Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville Longbottom’s bravery.

Harry Potter Script Takeaway #1

Harry Potter dialogue & wizard language

One of the most subtle, yet important aspects of creating a fantastical setting is the art of creating something new. Take J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth for example: Tolkien’s use of uniqueness has inspired and intimated generations of writers.

In an AMA, Rowling said, “I love The Hobbit, but I think if you set aside the fact that the books overlap in terms of dragons & wands & wizards, the Harry Potter books are very different, especially in tone. Tolkien created a whole mythology, I don’t think anyone could claim that I have done that.”

I think it’s fair to say that Rowling is selling herself short. Although her wizarding world may not be as “original” as Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, it’s still astoundingly well-developed and original enough to show clear differentiation. But how is this differentiation achieved?

Well, let’s look at a scene from the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone script we imported into StudioBinder's screenwriting software. Focus on the dialogue and how it helps to immerse us in the world.

Harry Potter Script PDF  •  Read the Diagon Alley Scene

Rowling may have been the one who created the wizarding world of Harry Potter, but here, screenwriter Steve Kloves does something technical that allows us to see the world through Harry’s eyes. Harry and Hagrid enter Diagon Alley, and immediately are overwhelmed by their environment. 

Kloves creates a frenetic energy through the use of layered dialogue. This section is remarkably short, but it serves an essential purpose in making the setting feel alive. People talk about dragon livers, “the Nimbus two thousand,” and Gringotts Bank — three things that are entirely foreign to us as the audience. Let’s look at the scene in the film to see this world truly come to life.

Harry Potter Dialogue  •  Diagon Alley Scene

Interestingly, some of the layered dialogue in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is drowned out by the musical score — but it’s not hard to understand why when you have John Williams’ music at your disposal. 

Harry Potter Script Takeaway #2

Harry Potter characters prove worthy

I’d say that the most important reason why the script for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone works better than other franchise-launching scripts is because its characters are developed to a greater degree. Oftentimes, franchise-launching scripts, such as The Avengers screenplay, struggle to make their characters feel different and useful enough to justify their presence in the story; The Sorcerer’s Stone doesn’t have this issue.

There’s one scene in particular where we’re shown exactly why Ron, Harry and Hermione work so well together. Pay attention to how Kloves characterizes all three through their actions.

Harry Potter Movie Script PDF  •  Read the Trials Scene

First and foremost, Hermione shows why she’s the “brains” of the group when the trio fall into a precarious situation, and she tells them exactly what to do. Harry then proves his determination when forced to withstand a flurry of flying keys to find the right one. Even Ron proves that he’s useful when the group is presented with an elaborate “life or death” game of chess. 

Harry Potter Sorcerer’s Stone Script to Screen  •  Watch the Chess Scene

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone shows us that you can never go wrong when writing characters who prove their worth. Although their utility is hamfisted to us in the end, it still works because it makes us root for them.

Harry Potter Script Takeaway #3

Harry Potter quotes are thematic

The Harry Potter movie scripts are chock-full of complex themes, such as the battle between good and evil, the morality of immortality, and whether prophecies can hold merit.

As such, there are a lot of great Harry Potter quotes. 

Let's look at another scene from the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone screenplay to see how a lot of the film’s most famous quotes addressed these complex themes.

In this scene, Albus Dumbledore delivers one of the all-time best Harry Potter quotes, by saying “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” As you read the scene, think about how this quote and the use of denouement gives the story-arc resolution.

Harry Potter Script PDF  •  Read the House Cup Scene

Neville Longbottom is a minor character in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but he plays an integral role in the theme of “bravery conquering cowardice.” For most of the story, he acts like a coward — beaten and berated by others. But when he stands up to Ron, Hermione and Harry (albeit under misguided pretenses), he conquers his own cowardice. 

Neville is honored by Dumbledore, which proves that the theme of “bravery conquers cowardice” isn’t only gratifying in terms of character arc, but narratively consequential as well. Let’s see how the scene plays out in the film.

Harry Potter 1 Movie Script PDF  •  The Sorcerer’s Stone House Cup Scene

Dumbledore may have a lot of great quotes in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but he’s not the only one. Here are some other great Harry Potter quotes:

  • “I'm going to bed before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us all killed. Or worse, expelled.” — Hermione 
  • “You'll soon find out that some wizarding families are better than others, Potter.” — Malfoy
  • “Clearly, fame isn't everything, is it, Mr. Potter?” — Snape
  • “There is no good and evil. There is only power and those too weak to seek it.” — Voldemort
  • “Sunshine daises butter mellow, turn that stupid fat rat yellow!” — Ron

UP NEXT

Read and download more scripts

The Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone script — or as it’s known outside of the U.S. as the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone script — does an excellent job of establishing the framework for a movie franchise. If you want to continue reading screenplays, we have similar titles like Star WarsThe Avengers, and The Dark Knight in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.

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