Sunday, March 29, 2015

Game of Thrones and Writing Advice

Finished Game of Thrones, books 1, 2, 3, 4. Oh my goodness!

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) -- 820 pages.

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 2) -- 930 pages.

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 3) -- 1220 pages.

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)  -- 870 pages.

Cons: almost 4000 pages of blood, gore, and rape. My eyes are aching.
Pros: 700 new words, notepad is full.
 To say I don't like these books is to say nothing at all. I don't care about the story or the characters. I don't care who's going to sit on the iron throne, who will die, who'll survive. I can't think of a single character whose fate more or less concerns me. But after a bit of rest I will start reading the 5th book, and maybe once in a while I'll be rereading passages from the first four. Just because no other writer has given me as much as George R.R. Martin. He's a genius, and to me he's the best living writer in the world. No one writes like Martin. Sometimes I wonder where he finds all these words from, how he comes up with such descriptions and characteristics, how he produces such terrific dialogue. Truly, GRRM is genius. To me GOT novels are like textbooks, I read them slowly and carefully. And that's one of the first advice on writing I am going to give to aspiring writers, especially to those who are not native speakers. Don't just read a lot, but read carefully, think of the ways the words are used, how the author plays with the nouns and verbs, how sparingly he uses adjectives, how he never says very, a lot, beautiful, big, small... There are other words that are better and don't make your prose look cheap.
If you want to learn to write in English, read George Martin. It doesn't matter that he writes fantasy and your book is set in the 1900s or 3000s. Trust me, it doesn't. You can learn a lot from him: character development, beautiful prose, smart dialogues, showing instead of telling. You can enrich your vocabulary. Just don't be lazy, get a notepad and write down new words and phrases. I have three thick notepads and am filling the 4th. Well, what did you want? To wake up one day with the Oxford Vocabulary miraculously inserted into your brain? But 10% of that vocabulary is in my notepads that I keep handy and go through them during the editing. OK now, don't be tempted to use big, smart words when there's a shorter, simpler word. Always go for simplicity. Short sentences are better than the long ones. And stop describing every item in the room. The last thing your reader needs to know is the color of the leather boots placed under the mahogany wardrobe that is pushed against the creamy wall. Better tell them about the characters.

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