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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?

Pillars of the story

A copy I found in the Westminster Abbey gift shop in London.

I'm munching on deformed peanut butter cups and brainstorming for my next book. There are three ideas swirling in my head right now (or maybe four), but I think I've finally picked one and so I'm figuring out the basic plot points.

Yes, I've said I'm a pantser, mister–or whatever you want to call it–who doesn't work well with structure. I've gone back and forth on plotting versus pantsing and somewhere-in-between so many times your neck probably hurts from watching. But I think my failed experiment with plotting had less to do with the act of creating a structure, and more to do with not having found the right one yet.

But I was recently re-inspired.

My husband and I are watching the Starz! production of Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (on Netflix instant play via Wii–LOVE my technology). He's one of my very favorite authors in any genre, and that book is up at the top of my list of best books ever. It's been years since I read it, so the mini-series–which is surprisingly well done–has been an excellent reminder of what an incredible storyteller Follett is. And I've noticed a couple things.

Follett's not afraid to put his characters through hell. In fact, I cringe at what they go through and at how evil some of the antagonists in his story are. As events unfold, I can almost imagine Follett asking himself, “What's the worst thing that could happen to this character now?”

Also, the character's goals and motivations are very clear, and they act accordingly without fail.

So as I move forward with my next book, I will try to incorporate these elements and create a framework on which to build my story, while still honoring my need to “wing it” from plot point to plot point. The major plot points are the pillars, and the fun is in creating the arches that connect them.

Wish me luck on my journey from apprentice to master builder. And, good luck in your own journey!