When I discovered Game of Thrones (GoT), the first season had just come out on DVD. The cover photo intrigued me. I saw Sean Bean and knew (spoiler alert) that things would not end well for him. Have you guys seen this post: The Many Deaths of Sean Bean

I picked up the DVD and to my surprise, binged it. I’m not typically a binger simply because I cannot sit still for more than the length of an average movie. I’m a busy person! There’s always sh*t to do and write.

But the visuals and the storyline captivated me.  And how no character seemed to be off limits as far as awful things happening to them.  Which leads me to my #1.

(1) Don’t be afraid to spread the misery around.

There’s a reason for the adage, “Misery loves company.”  It compels the story forward while building depth in the characters.  Also, no one’s life is perfect and without tragedy, so keep it real(ish), right?  I mean, hopefully, no one’s life is quite as bleak as some of the show’s/book’s characters.

(2) There are no clear-cut protagonists and antagonists.

In the average novel, the hero and the villain are obvious. Yet, in George RR Martin’s world, not so much, and for me, it’s what keeps me engaged. Again, not every person we know is good all the time. Humans innately have that mix, the Ying/Yang. Martin shows us, through writing (and the scriptwriters in the show), how to make your characters come alive and have readers/viewers identify with them by blurring the lines between good and bad. “The Character you love to hate.” AND “The one you are rooting for, except that one time they did that thing…”

Now, in all fairness, on the show version, it’s not just the written material that is fascinating. I want to take a moment and express my awe and gratitude to the actors and all the other talent that brings this show alive.  The sheer number of people involved in this project has to be staggering. And it comes together brilliantly. That’s no small feat. However, as an author, I do look at everything through that filter so on to…

(3) Don’t be afraid to stretch outside what has already been done.

Much of writing is taking a loose formula called story structure and a little inspiration from other works, then expanding on it. But, this story seems to take a character and say, “What is the worst possible thing we can do to them? Ok, let’s bump it up five notches!” It works because that move is unexpected. At least in suspense and thrillers. I bet it would work great in other genres, though, too, like Dystopian and Romance. It builds character but drives the plot and subplot forward.

(4) Don’t overcomplicate things.

Not all GoT lessons have been rosy. GRRM has created a vast world, and with it, a large cast of characters.  When reading the books, I found myself going back to figure out which person was which several times.  I can barely keep track of myself most days, let alone dozens of characters. I also found in the show there were times when I was like, “Who’s that again?” Thus, my lesson is the KISS principle.  Simple is OK. A little complicated is OK, too, but when your readers or viewers need to go back for a refresher or create a roadmap and family tree to keep track of everything, it might be a sign your world or subplots have gotten out of control. It works for GoT because people are hooked. Yet, if you are just starting out, try to keep things manageable.

There are so many other non-writing lessons I’ve learned from watching and reading the GoT series, but that is for another post.

I am anxiously awaiting the next episode, roadmap, and family tree in hand.

~ KT.

© K.T. George 2017 | This post was first seen on ktgeorge.com


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Surprising Ways GoT Impacted My Writing

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