Like many people, I’ve gotten hooked on George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire (adapted for television as Game of Thrones ). I’m reading it not only as a fan of epic fantasy, but also as a fantasy writer. Whether you like the books or not, there’s a lot to learn from them.
(NOTE: This post contains spoilers through A Storm of Swords, which is the third book of the five that are currently out. If you’re watching the TV series and haven’t read the books, you probably won’t want to read further — the current season will end halfway through the events of A Storm of Swords. I haven’t read the last two books yet, so if you have, please don’t post spoilers for the last two books.)
1. Some readers will follow you anywhere…if they trust you. Martin is infamous for killing off characters you thought were safe by the rules (or tropes) of fantasy writing. Granted, he’s lost readers because of it — dark, gritty fantasy isn’t for everyone. But he still has huge numbers of readers clamoring for more. Why? Because they’ve grown to trust his storytelling skills. He’s shown that he’s in control, that his plotting is well thought out, that he doesn’t kill characters without a good reason. More than that, he tells a story that people want to hear, despite the risks.