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What I’m learning in the Game of Thrones

game-of-thrones-posterI think I may be the last person on Earth to start watching Game of Thrones. At least that’s how it feels on Twitter. Still, now that my husband and I are almost done with season one, I see the draw.

The feel of the story reminds me a lot of Ken Follett’s book/mini-series (both fabulous) Pillars of the Earth, though the story is not at all the same. I think it’s the skillful way that George R.R. Martin sets up every character’s goal and motivation, both protagonist and antagonist alike. And they’re not petty. He’s carefully laying the foundations with betrayal, torment, and loss.

Ken Follett does the same thing with his characters. The seeds of vengeance are sown early and provide for the ultimate demise of those who run roughshod over others early on.

Of course, it’s a long, arduous road upon which the “good guys” are tortured mercilessly, but then the hero wouldn’t have earned his victory if not for the trials of the journey, right?

A writer could learn a lot from both Follett and Martin.

So, I will dutifully study GoT in my quest to become a better writer. Maybe some of the magic will rub off on me along the way.

Either way, at least I’ll be enjoying myself.

Is there a book, movie, or TV show that inspires you to be a better writer?

0 Comments

  1. Reply

    Mmmmm. “…so I will dutifully study…” That’s not the same as eating dry oatmeal and calling it good is it?

    I like old movies on the order of Thunder Road with Robert Mitchum ca 1962 if I’m looking for story structure. The—-absence—-of sprawling color, herky jerky camera takes, bolting scene jumps , special effects and a blow-you-away-sound-track reduces to near zero the possibility of glossing over flawed structure.

    The 2008 film “Wanted” with Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie is probably the best movie for sneaking up on you in your search for the Inciting Incident. That takes 15 mins. From that point on the meandering through degrees of violence finally ends, I’m betting, when someone responsible for paying the bills shouted, ” Look we are out of money and out of time on this one. Dream up four maybe five quick takes and lets call it a wrap.” From that point on the viewer is asked not to suspend disbelief but to disconnect all mental faculties. This enabled them,at least in their mind, to drag out the flaw of flaws, “deus ex machina. The plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved, In this case deus ex was a passing bus. Yep. Good Ol hero is down for the count on the side walk. The last low point was reached. But, oops. How do we get him from face down on the side walk to up and running again with super powers for the kill. A BUS. A City bus blocks the viewers vision of the slumped hero. When the bus passes hero is gone. Yep. just poof and away. T H E N he magically reappears from a tub of ice water. At that point I not only wanted my money back I wanted to be paid for my time spent with that loony tune flick. And, here I am still ranting about it. 🙂

    • Reply

      Curtis: That was more an attempt at dry humor. I’m addicted to GoT, so it’s no hardship to watch. 😉 Sounds like I should avoid WANTED. Thanks for the heads up!

  2. Jan Petrie

    Reply

    Downton Abbey, sucks you in with its gentility and social classes of the era.

    Holds one with its challenges in personal integrity and human hardship during a time of great change.

    But the subtle ‘we all look out for one another’ is the icing on this well layered cake.

    • Reply

      Jan: I’ve heard great things about Downton. I’m always amazed at writers who can weave together the stories of such a large cast of characters so well. Especially when they can make the audience empathize with the antagonists too. Thanks!

  3. Reply

    I just started watching this year, trying to catch up… I love the way develops characters and as you said, sows those seeds of vengeance. He also has no problem killing his darlings… skipped to latest episode! ouch and cringe!

  4. Reply

    All my favorite movies have an element in them (story, character, plot) that I studied and applied to improve my writing. Even stories you don’t like can show what not to do.

  5. Reply

    The last two books I read had great stories and character development: Justin Cronin’s The Passage and Stephen King’s 11/22/63. I recently got sucked into, and thoroughly enjoyed, Breaking Bad. Amazing character development and storyline. The show isn’t for everyone … it’s a dark drama with occasional elements of black comedy (think Fargo) … but it sure is some great writing.

    • Reply

      Dave: My boys like Breaking Bad. I haven’t watched much, but it seems like they do a good job of providing the main character with a motivation that you can understand even if you don’t like what he does. Thanks for sharing your great reads!

  6. Reply

    Thank you for providing this post. I am writing a children’s book that has images of each page in a diary format so on each page there is a picture and part of the story is hand written.To appear sort of like a scrap book. I made each page by hand then scanned them in a pdf. Now what? Is there any way to have the the ebook images contain the story with no additional text? Any help would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

    • Reply

      Carmenbgardner: Are you talking about in Scrivener? If so, it’d be better if you scanned the pages as an image file and then inserted the images into a Scrivener document. PDFs don’t work in the Draft/Manuscript folder, and images can be in there, but only within a document. It’s okay if the document has no text. Anyway, the book sounds neat. Good luck!

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