Game of Thrones – Friday video

While I’m getting my act together to put up some more stuff about book reviewing, please enjoy the interview below with George RR Martin, creator of the Fire and Ice series (Game of Thrones). Even if you are not a GoT watcher/reader, or ‘fantasy person’ (I’m not ordinarily but I will confess to loving this show/these books) there is still value in watching the interview below with Grace Dent for the fiction pointers. (I’m going to look up Grace Dent – how dare she be so poised and articulate and gorgeous. And where did she get her dress? And those earrings? Who is she?)

I’m going to start using his term the ‘ego-boo’* from now on. I also note that while George, by the end of the ’70s, was ‘on his way to becoming a full-time writer’ he was also on his way to becoming a full-time wearer of unusual hats. (His preferred model seems to the the ‘Train Driver Cap.’

I love the way he says about writing the first chapter of the Fire & Ice series:

it came from nowhere… the opening chapter took three days to write.

He had the images of ‘summer snows’ and of a boy and a group of medieval people, finding wolf pups and their dead mother. Once he finished that chapter, he knew what the next chapter would be about, and the one after that. Somewhere in that process of writing the first few chapters, he drew a map, knowing he had to create and name the world for this story.

And on character:

character is the heart of fiction. If you make the characters real then the rest of the furniture around them is almost incidental… for me the characters is what fiction is all about.

I love hearing this, again and again, from writers I respect. Because it’s what I feel too.

The question of sex is interesting too. I avoid sex in my writing, I think because so often when I read sex scenes in literature they are clunky and awkward. It’s hard to write good sex scenes, but really: it’s hard to write good scenes. So maybe, like reviewing, I shall endeavour to change my attitude to this as well. Because as George says:

[sex] makes us do noble things and it makes us do incredibly stupid things – leave it out and you’ve got an incomplete world.

And on violence versus sex:

I can describe an axe entering a man’s head in exquisite detail and describe the blood and brain splattering everywhere: not a peep [from readers]. But I describe a penis entering a vagina in the same detail: the world has ended

And on killing his characters:

If you’re going to write about war and death and intrigue you have to establish to your readers that you’re playing for real

* Short for ego-boost.

2 thoughts on “Game of Thrones – Friday video

  1. Very interesting indeed, Jenny. I agree with you on the sex angle because I avoid using sex in my writing as well – it just ends up sounding like a comedy! 😉 It’s a real art to get it just right…

    1. Exactly, and also to me it often is one of the least remarkable parts in life. I know that ‘bucks the trend’ but there is so much to delight in and respond to and marvel at – whereas sex, while it can be really really good, usually doesn’t take up a large chunk of time in people’s lives: it sits on the side, squeezed in or not at all. I’m not expressing myself very well and I know there would be people who disagree completely. I think it’s because it’s hard to write about sex well OR because if you have a sex scene people think it’s meant to be erotic and arousing to the reader. If I have a sex scene I would want it to have a different purpose. Like maybe be completely unremarkable, mechanical and un-noteworthy or to be comic or something like that. Sex scenes like all scenes need to do their work in the whole; maybe that’s it. When people write them as float-alone interludes, where the justification for inclusion is none other than to ‘show sex’ then I think they fail, particularly if not written well. It’s different if the book is about sex, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about a sex scene included for verisimilitude’s sake. Sex shouldn’t be used for that; make a cup of tea, go for a walk, notice the trees. That’s what I think.

Leave a Reply to Jenny Ackland Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s