Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M: George RR Martin

My theme for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year is a mishmash of books, movies, writers and TV shows that have in one way or another taught me something about writing and helped me be a better writer. Some inspired my own stories and a few taught me what not to do. Each post is a one minute lesson on writing. And stop by IWSG blog for some inspiration all month long.

Most readers and writers have heard of  The Game of Thrones and George RR Martin who writes the book series, A Song of Fire and Ice. The books are famous for killing off popular characters and HBO has rocketed the series to stardom. For the show fans who haven't read the books, some of the violent endings to characters is shocking. Martin is also know by book fans as one of the most frustratingly slow writers ever. His longest stretch between books in a series is 6 years. That's a long time to keep readers waiting and a good way for most writers to lose fans. Thanks to the HBO series, Martin continues to sell the first books in the series. I had started reading the series years before the TV show came into being so the violent deaths didn't surprise me. That HBO would make the show
knowing that the writer hadn't finished the books yet did surprise me. The show is good. The books are good though not my favorite. Martin had been accused by fans of being lazy, not having the story plotted out and not knowing where its characters are going or where it will end. Some think he kills characters just for the shock, or that he has too many plots going and is constantly adding new characters and ignoring the story lines of the original characters. 

Lesson: If you're going to write really slow, you better have a loyal fan base. Slow won't work for most of us. Kill your characters if it makes the story better but not just for shock. Know the ending of your story before you start it. If HBO offers you a contract, write at whatever pace you want.

"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die" Cersei Lannister

"A dragon is not a slave." Daenerys Targaryen

How quickly do you expect an author to write the next book in a series? Know any authors slower than Martin? Have you read a book where a character's death disturbed and didn't seem to make the book better? Are you a fan of these books or the HBO show?

49 comments:

  1. George R.R. Martin is one of my favorite authors. I'm a bit skeptical about his writing style though, but hey, if it works for him. And killing off his characters is what sets him apart from the others. I sometimes write manuscripts without knowing the end, so if I can do it, then so can George R.R. Martin. :)

    My post for the A to Z Challenge.

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    1. Martin says he knows how the story ends but I'm not so sure.

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  2. Great pic for the letter M. I'm buying and watching the TV series through Amazon as I'm reading the books. I have a ways to go but getting through them.

    Stephen Tremp
    A to Z Cohost
    M is for Movies

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    1. The books and the show are pretty different, especially in where they are now in the show.

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  3. I read series only after the last book is written. When I get into a book, I want the next RIGHT THEN.

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    1. I know what you mean. I'm afraid I won't live long enough for Martin to finish or that he won't.

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  4. Hi Susan - I haven't read or seen the Game of Thrones .. so can't pass a comment really .. cheers Hilary

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  5. "If HBO offers you a contract, write at whatever pace you want." - LOL - oh wouldn't that be nice :) I tried to get into Game of Thrones but the first ep was filled with characters I really didn't like and situations that didn't grab me, so we parted ways :) It's good to see a writer doing so well though.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. That's part of the fun is there are so many unlikable characters and you hope they get what they have coming.

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  6. I love the show so I started reading the books as well, but I've only gotten through the first two so far. I always hope that I'll catch up before the new season starts, but it never seems to happen...

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    1. You'll probably catch up to Martin but maybe not the show.

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  7. We don't have HBO, so I have never seen the series. Six years is a long time in between books.

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    1. Six years is very long for readers to wait.

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  8. I always know the end of my stories before I start writing. I need to know where the story is ending up and I'm a big plotter.

    Six years. Wow! It must be nice to have a loyal fan base like that.

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    1. I think he was losing them until HBO started the show.

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  9. I wonder if the pressure of having HBO go through his books (at what must feel like lightning speed) is pushing his pacing any. I suspect it might. I know I wouldn't want the series to just End, frustrating the watcher (potential book buyer) because I couldn't work quickly enough. The other option for HBO is to take the story in whatever direction THEY want if he hasn't finished it yet.

    I've read the first two books in this series. I get them from the library so I make sure to check them out when I know I have time to read them (they are LONG). Last weekend Direct TV offered a free weekend of HBO. Turns out they were marathoning Game of Thrones in anticipation of the fifth season coming out. I think I'd watched most of the third season (but maybe not the very end because it feels like I missed some things between what I last saw and S4, E1). Anyway, I recorded the entire fourth season and am making my way through it.

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    1. From what I understand the show will move above the books this season or next and Martin isn't feeling any pressure according to him.

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  10. Saw the name and my first thought went to that great producer of most of the Beatles music. I haven't kept up with anything re Game of Thrones. I'm so out of the loop of modern pop culture.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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  11. Haven't started his books yet. Can't follow along on the show either since I'm without cable. Woe is me. :)

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    1. The books are much more detailed than the show and there are many differences.

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  12. He writes soooooo slow. I just watch the TV. I have no patience to wait years upon years for sequels.

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    1. He is slow and compared to you he write at the speed a glacier moves.

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  13. What amazes me is that in spite of his molasses-esque writing speed and penchant for killing fan favorites, he's still so wildly popular. You're right; the rest of us can't afford to work that way!

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    1. I pretty sure he wouldn't be if not for HBO. His readers were seriously angry in their reviews as they waited and waited.

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  14. I agree with everything except know the ending of your story before you start to write it. Impossible for me. I never know what is going to happen until I start writing.

    Another great post.
    Heather

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  15. From reading the first two books, and reading a few interviews about Martin, I think that he does have the rest of it basically planned out - maybe not all the deaths, but I'm pretty sure that he knows who is going to end up alive. I've also read that his publisher didn't want to risk the second book so the second book was in the wings for six years because the first one wasn't selling well when it first came out. At this point, I think he just has to keep one step ahead of the tv series for his books. I'm not a big fan of the graphic nature of the books or the show, but the plot-line and twists are super interesting.

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    1. The show has a lot of unnecessary nudity. And the show has all but overtaken him already. I guess he talked with the show runners and let them know the ending.

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  16. I have tried to read these books a couple of times and I just can't get into them. I can see that they are good, but something I just have not been able to get into.

    --
    Tim Brannan, The Other Side Blog
    2015 A to Z of Vampires
    http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/

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    1. Some people are put off by the violence of the books and the show.

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  17. And I thought I was a slow writer...
    I haven't read the books so the amount of blood, boobs, and carnage surprised me.

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    1. I think the boobs are to keep the young male viewers interested. It's working at my house.

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  18. I read the first 3 books when I heard HBO had put them in development. The first book was fantastic! Then nothing really happened in the second book, I still enjoyed the characters. Then nothing really happened in the third book and the characters I enjoyed started to become stagnant. I read reviews that match my complaint and heard how SLOW he was! I stopped reading. I'll read again AFTER he finishes the series. I do LOVE the show!!!!

    You can find me here:
    ClarabelleRant

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    1. I've heard lots of people who plan to read it after he finishes.

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  19. I guess I'm more patient. I'd rather have a well-crafted story than one rushed to publication for the sales. Of course, some writers can write well and fast, so they do have the edge.

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    1. Brandon Sanderson is a great example of someone who writes fast and better than most.

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  20. If the books come out good, I don't care how long he takes. I just hope he manages to finish them!

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    1. I'm a little worried about that too. He's not that young.

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  21. I don't know Game of Thrones but I do know Mad Men. With the series wrapping up, there is much speculation as to whether the main character, Don Draper, is going to die. I think it's a better story overall if he doesn't. Yet somehow, it seems inevitable. Not a suicide, though, please. That always seems like a cop-out, even in - no, make that especially in - Romeo & Juliet.

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    1. Yeah, that would be a bad ending. I need to catch up on that show.

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  22. I think Martin is pretty much allowed to do what he likes at this point. But 6 years is a pretty long time.

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    1. I think you're right, Nick. We can complain about him being slow but he's so busy counting his money that he doesn't care what we think.

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  23. On Martin's killing off characters and un-ending endings...I'd have to agree with South Park's Butters who spoke for the gang when he said, "We're not fans!...and I'm pretty pissed off, if you wanna know the truth!" Although, I am a fan, I was pretty PO'ed at the ending of the last book, but not enough that I haven't missed a single episode of Game of Thrones.

    A great pick for the Letter M, and I enjoyed reading all the comments as well.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal
    AtoZ 2015 Challenge
    Minion for AJ's wHooligans

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  24. Hahahaha! That last line about writing at your own pace when HBO offers you a contract is awesome :)

    I was (and still am) a huge Stephen King fan and when he started the Dark Tower series I was hooked... and then it was years and years and years before I think it was Book 6 and 7 came out (and luckily King wasn't killed by that van that crashed into him...as I'm sure his family feels, too!!)

    I've no idea if I will ever write a series... but I think a 2-year gap between books works...

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  25. I discovered Game of Thrones on HBO, still haven't read any of the books. I'm not a big fan of watching my favorite characters get abruptly killed off, although I'm getting used to it in the series. Still, one of the things I liked best about mystery writer John D. MacDonald was he would occasionally kill off a lead character or have the hero reach the heroine in peril a few minutes too late to save her. He didn't do it often but just knowing he would added an extra layer of urgency to all his stories.

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  26. I read the first couple of books back when they were first released. They were peculiar at the time because the story wasn't about anyone in particular. You learn that pretty fast when the "main characters" keep dying. I couldn't read the rest of the series because the story went too slowly for me.

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  27. Again another author I'm not familiar with but plan to be after the challenge :) I would hope the author would have the next book out in the series within 6 months to a year if that was possible to hold my interest :)

    betty

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  28. The thing that frustrated me wasn't so much the slowness of writing but how many new characters he was bringing to the story. By the fourth book I lost steam because I couldn't get involved with all the new stories and characters - and I was getting confused about who was who. That first book remains absolutely epic in my mind though - I still years down the line care about the Starks and the Lannisters.

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  29. Your last line about the contract made me laugh.
    I love Martin and only discovered him through the show. I devoured the books and now I admit I'm losing patience waiting for the next one.

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  30. I do wonder if GRRM is feeling any pressure now that the series is really moving on and his books are moving less slowly. ;)

    I still haven't even read book 4 yet. But I did love the ones I had read.

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