Game of Thrones and the art of writing

Well. I never thought I’d say it but I’ve reached the end of GoT – the end of the books currently published by the esteemed George Martin, and I’m a little aghast. I will need to wait a LONG time before I find out what happened to a bunch of folk.

Anyhoo, what interested me was his writing style. Terse and wordy, bloodthirsty and tender. Martin is particularly fond of describing food, bloodshed and clothing. One might think he has a fetish for food. He paints a lovely picture, that fellow. One can tell when his fecund imagination is flagging a bit but he hides it well. And he’s funny. He is a funny writer. The characters ripple with black humour. Boy, if I could write even half as well. And I’m impressed with the editing – I’ve found 2 mistakes in the whole 7 books and they stuck out like – well – like rare mistakes. Martin’s syntax and grammatical accuracy are excellent, so I suspect he spells well too.

Naturally, one becomes a little taken with the writing style of favourite fiction writers, and in my own narratives, dry and barren of descriptive prose as they are, I’ve attempted to add just a few hints of life. Participants seem gloomy. They roar with laughter. That sort of thing. But it’s not easy when I’m trying to tell a story AND simultaneously analyse it and I only have 14000 words to do it in. Too much to say, too few words to say it in. Hemingway would disagree. Martin wouldn’t.

Bless you, George R.R. Martin. Don’t you speed up for anyone. More than the deliciously twisty, confusing plot and tortured kingdoms fighting for a bit of whatever (the whole world seems to be at war or dying), the great art is in the telling. So, I miss the ugly, brutal Sandor Clegane, whose story just stopped. I miss Jaime and Brienne, whose stories slowed down. I miss Rickon and Bran and Sansa and the Stoneheart whose stories have been set aside in the telling of the stories of others. But in this massive fantasy there is room for new players and that some players haven’t disappeared at all, their stories are just waiting to be told.

Take your time, George.


3 thoughts on “Game of Thrones and the art of writing

  1. Congratulations on getting all caught up on A Song of Ice and Fire.

    If you must read more tales from Westeros, there are three Hedge Knight novellas that take place 100 years before A Game of Thrones (roughly), and he recently published a novella of a Targaryen civil war (with dragons) two hundred years before that.

    But like you, I miss my Starks and Lannisters, Tyrells, Cleganes, and Snows

    1. Thanks for that – ended up wandering round the net and found George Martin’s very own not-very-well-put-together website where I discovered more stuff. Once I’m done with my PhD I’m gonna sit down and read the books all over again. Slower.

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