Thursday 27th July 2017
I was feeling so exhausted today that part of me wanted to postpone cake club tonight. But given that I’d already pushed it back a week due to tournament prep, plus I need to get back into a writing frame of mind, I went and am glad I did.
We really just went over what we’ve done and created a list of tasks we each need to complete before our next meeting.
We talked about a few other things. We discussed tech, we talked about swords, and we talked about Game of Thrones.
Let me start by saying that it’s really easy to criticise another writer. It’s also very easy to criticise when you don’t have to deal with the pressures and challenges that writer faces. And it’s very easy to identify faults whilst knowing that you’d do a far worse job of it.
In that vein, I don’t dislike George R R Martin. He seems like a very nice guy. I don’t believe he’s my bitch or that he owes me anything. But likewise, I believe I can make criticism of his work without it being an attack.
I liked Game of Thrones. I thought the multiple points of view (POV) was clever and made the book feel epic whilst remaining tightly character focused.
A Clash of Kings, however, felt different. Whereas Game of Thrones felt tightly weaved, Clash of Kings seemed to sprawl. I read the ebook, constantly wishing it to end so I could move onto something new. The introduction of the Red Woman suddenly introduced magic into the world and had me going, “WTF!” And then there was the fact there were all these epic battles that never got described, instead skipping to the aftermath.
Whereas I felt that the number of POVs in Game of Thrones felt like a clever device, in Clash of Kings it felt like the author showing off. It was almost as if the book needed a point of sale sticker with “now with 50% more points of view” emblazoned on the cover.
As a result, I never progressed, until the TV show came out. My plan was to stay ahead of the TV series, and I did read Storm of Swords when season 2 was airing. I enjoyed Storm of Swords more, but I still felt it had all the same problems.
But I read slower than Martin writes and so I never moved onto Feast of Crows. I got up to Season 4 of the TV Show and stopped.
But now season 7 is airing. Last season I felt the urge to watch it before it could be spoiled. So, as Martin isn’t going to get Winds of Winter out any time soon and I decided to say “screw it” and catch up on the TV series.
I’ve been slowly catching up over the last week of post-Astolat recovery. At the rate I’m going, I should be up to date at around the same time as I need to be diving deep into the edits.
But one of the things about watching the TV Series without having read the books is that it feels like reading the cliff notes on the series. The chaff gets cut away and in its place is left the core plot.
And this is where I can see a lot of errors.
I used to be a pantser – I’d know the first 3rd, the last chapter and a couple of key scenes of any novel I was writing – but I learnt that in order to write faster, I needed to start plotting. I still need to learn to edit faster but that’s a story for another day.
Martin is a pantser and it shows through the TV Series. I can see ideas get introduced part way through a season, knowing that they’ve not been foreshadowed in at least the first three books. I can almost pinpoint the moment when Martin has had a huge influence.
Is it any wonder these books take so long to write. This sprawling epic with multiple POVs set over a vast and varied world, needs planning. Is it any wonder he is having trouble writing the books when he’s letting his characters meander about? It’s no wonder everyone always seems to die, because he now has so many plot arcs that it’s the only way to keep it manageable. That is until he has another scene and decides he needs to tell this from some new character’s POV.
Watching the TV Series is frustrating, because – and maybe I’m wrong here – I can see a lot of the faults of the series from a very high level.
Now, were I in his shoes, would I be any better? I doubt it. I might not make those mistakes, but I’d make plenty of other ones.
The act of binge watching the TV Series, in order to catch up, has served as a really good way to ease myself back into Black as Knight. I’m determined not to make the same errors as Martin, and it’s taught me a number of valuable lessons.
As I say, I don’t hate the series and I think those that moan how long the books take probably don’t appreciate the pressure Martin puts himself under due to the success of the series and his commitment to pantsing them. But at the same time, I can see what I believe are faults, and it’s going to be interesting to read the rest of the books after they come out to see whether I’m right, or whether they are just a product of the TV Series branching away from the book narrative.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
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