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Tag: George R. R. Martin

A Peek into MisCon 26, Part 18

In the panel transcriptions, I’m mostly paraphrasing what the panelists said. If there are any errors, they’re mine and mine alone. For any corrections, just drop me a note.

Previous posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9. Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17

The final panel I attended was called “Lore of Swords” which was presented by Diana Pharaoh Francis, Ruth Frey, George R. R. Martin, and J.A. Pitts. (AQ is an audience question.)


(Left to right: George R. R. Martin, Ruth Frey, J.A. Pitts, Diana Pharaoh Francis)

JAP: Why are people so fascinated with swords? Most of history, you just didn’t want to get killed. So why would you use a sword?

DPF: It’s a good weapon. It needs skill. And you can use it on horses. In urban fantasy, a steel sword is 92% iron. Magical creatures don’t like iron so it works better than shooting with lead.

RF: For the historical aspect, why is there this mystique? Lots of weapons were used historically. One classic is the axe. The axe could be deadly, but you could also use it around the house. Not much metal was used to make it. On the other hand, the sword used a lot of metal. Back in that time, knowledge about metal working was not advanced. A sword was only good for one thing, like Alton Brown’s “uni-tasker.” It was for kings, the aristocracy, and warfare. The technology was very advanced so it would seem that the smiths wielded magic to make them. So there was the mystique, the swords were given names and passed down through the generations. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the common people could afford swords now, but there was still the mystique. If you think of films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the mystique crosses cultures.

GRRM: What she said. Swords are cool, man. There are different types of swords–cutlasses, rapiers, broadswords, etc. There are a hundred and one varieties. So you can decide what’s best for what purpose. It’s not like that with other weapons. A spear is a spear. If you found a dead knight, you would take his sword. A sword could do a lot of damage in battle. Is killing thirty-seven men in battle an exaggeration? Maybe not. The knight had armor and sword training while those thirty-seven men just had pointy sticks.

RF: Knights were trained since they were seven years old. While everyone else was just rounded up when it was time to fight.

GRRM: It was good to be a knight, especially in battle. A spear can be potent, but most spearmen were not trained and the spears didn’t have metal points. Swords were a status symbol. It was like a Lamborghini while a spear was a Honda. They had magical sword legends. But no one names their axe. (Who calls their axe ‘Fred’? Maybe I should…) Legends beget legends. Modern science fiction and fantasy also picked up on swords like Excalibur and contribute to the mythology. Like Elric’s Stormbringer. Or the Valyrian Steel sword in my stories.

RF: There’s a nice updating of it in science fiction. An example is the Jedi light saber which is a variant on the sword. The amount of training and variety of techniques you can do contributes to the mystique. If you give an untrained person a sword, he won’t be able to use it. Someone who can use it will seem magical.

JAP: I started my book by picking a sword for a short story. I picked the Norse sword Gram. If you have a powerful sword, it will make your opponent scared.

DPF: I needed to figure out what you couldn’t do with a sword. If it’s a long sword, you don’t put it on your back. If the sword is belted to the waist, it would be difficult to sit and walk with it. It would make it hard to mount a horse. I’m into realistic weaponry. If you have a hand or half sword, then it doesn’t have the sharp edge. In battle, a long sword would be a bad idea since you could cut down your own people. So what are you capable of doing with it? Can you wear it day to day? What’s the maintenance?

GRRM: It will depend on what sword you’re writing about. The type of sword could drastically change your fighting technique and whether you’re wearing armor or other type of clothing. In fencing, the sword against sword is primarily defensive. In medieval times, defense was the shield. I can see film choreography, but it is not realistic. It’s for show not killing. In real life, it’s to kill and they will aim for your leg, not the shield. In film, you seldom see hits on legs. But on Viking battle fields, you will see remains where the wounds were on the legs. It’s not like theatrical shows. Fights are generally short and over in minutes. All it takes is one mistake.

RF: I study the use of weapons as a martial art. But that will bore the audience since technically you want to end the fight quickly. On the battlefield, you might not necessarily want to kill people. You just want to maim in order to neutralize while the others after you will finish them off. Reality is brutal.

JAP: How much on the battlefield relies on luck rather than skill? Is it due to the mystique of the sword?

RF: Probably. Some people buy too much into the mystique. For example, the Agincourt French knights were devastated by the English archers because they thought they were invincible.

GRRM: You’d think by Agincourt, which was eighty years after their defeat at Crecy, they would have learned their lesson. But knights were generally the terror of the battlefield. The mounts were also part of it.

AQ: What length determines a long knife and a short sword?

RF: People argue over it. I would recommend looking at Oakeshott’s Topology of Swords. It’s classified on a spectrum so it’s hard to draw the line.

AQ: Why is there still a mystique for the sword? We have machine guns and atom bombs now.

GRRM: Swords are cool. Replicas are being made of the swords from my books at Valyrian Steel. But there is a mystique about guns. Every night I’ve been in Montana, the dinner conversation inevitably went back to guns. Guns provoke a similar mystique. Is it about killing people? No, because you can kill people with kitchen knives. Are there legends on it? It’s undeniably there. There aren’t many legends on other medieval weapons. And other replicas don’t sell as well. Other weapons don’t have the glamor of the sword. No one names their morning star. Why does magic not attach to some of the other weapons? Well, there’s one example, the warhammer which Thor had named. The warhammer is better in a fight than a sword. Nonetheless…

JAP: But you need strength for the hammer. And swords are superior to guns when fighting against zombies. You don’t need to reload. In D & D, the sword does more damage than the morning star.

AQ: Do you act out fight scenes?

DPF: Yes. Also I can imagine it in my head. There was no penicillin at that time, so you will want to kill your opponent before you get scratched. A cut could kill you.

JAP: I do taekwondo to see how the bodies move while fighting. It’s not what you see in films and comics. You should call the experts.

RF: Definitely make the play physical.

GRRM: No, I don’t act it out. It’s a good way to smash furniture, destroy your house, cut off your fingers, conk your own head, and spray your brains on the wall. I like to watch the TV show Deadliest Warrior, especially the first two seasons. They tested medieval weapons with computer simulations between Spartans and ninjas. With their tests, they used packs filled with gel simulating blood so you could see the damage. There were weapons that could cut through a pig carcass. Defense always wins. One mistake in writing fight scenes, and I’ve been guilty of this, is pitting guys with heavy armor against a quick guy in light armor and having the guy in light armor win. But in reality, he would lose.

RF: One caveat. If you have five or six lightly armored guys against one guy in heavy armor, they can take on the knight.

AQ: There are sword making differences between the east and west. For Japanese swords, two materials in layers were used to make a strong blade. Did the Europeans ever catch on?

RF: The Japanese compensated for the poor materials they had on hand. The Vikings and Norse would also do something similar. But as the technology got better, the metal became good throughout.

GRRM: It did develop independently in the west. Damascus steel, which was brought to Spain by Moorish influences, was highly prized. In recent decades, samurai swords also assumed the mystique while people began discounting western knights as oafs. But that was also martial arts. A samurai blade was sharp because there was no armor. It’s useless against armor. Only magical swords don’t get blunt. If you pit a knight against a samurai, the knight would win.

RF: There are an insane variety of swords, but they’re not all from the same time and place. They’re finely tuned for when and where they were developed. A fight between a knight and a samurai would never happen because they weren’t in the same place.

AQ: What are the best books on swords?

JAP: There are these books by George R. R. Martin….

GRRM: There is a book by John Howe who is a Tolkien artist and a re-enactor.

RF: I would suggest Ewart Oakeshott’s Classification on Swords and Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight. There are also medieval texts online by classic medieval masters.

JAP: Don’t use Wikipedia, but you can use their sources.

DPF: I do research on swords and fighting in different cultures. I also see how blacksmiths make swords. This will inform how the character will do things.

AQ: How would people wielding great swords, like giants, fare in battle?

GRRM: Most two-handed swords were not used in battle. They were usually used for ceremony and cutting off heads. In battle they were clumsy. However, in post-medieval times, there were large groups of pikemen. Soldiers using those swords were used to break up the pikemen formation so the horsemen could come in. They were not used to fight. But if you write fantasy, you can do this for a superhuman like Hulk but not a normal human.

RF: They did double duty and it was a hazardous job.

AQ: Can a sword made of better material cut through a sword of poor quality?

JAP: Due to the laws of physics, no.

RF: You can break one on impact, but no, you can’t swipe through another sword.

GRRM: It will notch it, but there’s no swiping through unless that sword is made of butter. So what’s your favorite sword fight scene? Mine is the fight between Inigo Montoya and the man in black in The Princess Bride.

RF: The Duellists by Ridley Scott.

JAP: The final Boromir scene in Lord of the Rings.

DPF: Rob Roy.

AQ: How about Errol Flynn?

GRRM: In the original The Adventures of Robin Hood. It’s a classic. But Errol Flynn actually didn’t know what to do. Basil Rathbone had to figure out how to make the idiot look good.

* * *

And then there were the closing ceremonies for MisCon where there was a screening of the MisCon 27 Trailer and the announcement that next year’s guest of honor is Jim Butcher.

A Peek into MisCon 26, Part 13

In the panel transcriptions, I’m mostly paraphrasing what the panelists said. If there are any errors, they’re mine and mine alone. For any corrections, just drop me a note.

Previous posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9. Part 10, Part 11, Part 12

The program notes for the panel “From the Villain’s POV” stated: “There’s a reason writers stick to good guys: writing from the point of view of a villain is hard. Join us for a discussion of how to write from the bad guy’s perspective, and how to create and maintain empathy for your monster even when they are doing horrible things.” The panelists were M.J. Engh, Deby Fredericks, George R. R. Martin, and Peter Orullian. (AQ is an audience question.)

GRRM: I don’t believe in villains.

PO: A villain isn’t a villain in his own mind. So is it really the villain’s point of view or not?

DF: I don’t believe that villains don’t know that they are the villains. They want what they want and they’ll try to justify it.

MJE: I agree with George. People do bad things to each other. You can understand why they do evil things, but you don’t have to forgive them.

GRRM: Some call the villain the hero from the other side. Like the Greeks and Trojans. You lose sight of it during a war. You tend to demonize the other side. That’s where knights in shining armor came in. However, knights were far from glamorous. They may have taken oaths to protect the innocent and so forth but actually they murdered and did a lot of other horrible things. Drama arises from the tension between high ideals and corrupt ideals. The knights believed their own press. They thought they were the good ones. Villainous acts doesn’t make the villain.

PO: Villains know what they’re doing is wrong.

DF: I work in an elementary school where the kids are constantly jockeying for position. They know that what they’ve done is wrong. But it’s status. Someone of higher status will believe that striking someone does not matter because he will choose the perk of status.

MJE: They’re sure that others won’t see it as wrong because they did it, but if others do it, those others would be wrong.

DF: At the end of the year, there’s a lot of equipment damage on the playground with balls on the roof and so forth. The last remaining good ball is a precious resource. We have to explain to the older kids to be kind. Although some teams spontaneously include the younger kids.

MJE: That’s why grown-ups teach morality. What about hard-wired morality?

GRRM: Something happens when they grow up. They do some monstrous acts without thinking it’s wrong. Like during war or 9/11. Did they lose the ability to tell right from wrong? History is worse than my own books, making them look like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Gordon Dickson planned a series of nine novels–three science fiction, three historical, and three contemporary–with the theme of the moral evolution of humankind. However, he never got to write them.

DF: Adults fudge the truth, thinking that the kids can’t handle the truth. But in George’s books, he doesn’t shrink back from what the characters will do to get to the throne. Be honest in what you’re sharing and don’t fudge.

PO: There’s moral relativism and there’s what M.J. said in the “Psychology of Evil” panel. That morality is hard-wired. That there’s a universal morality. It’s like how the settlers or the Native Americans viewed manifest destiny. So what morality should we subscribe to?

DF: Empathy needs to be taught. If the leader goes around killing and raping, others will do what the leader does. If the leader is restrained, then the troops are merciful.

MJE: There’s evidence for hard-wired morality. In some recent studies of babies of about six months or so, they have a sense of fairness. They share equally. They attach labels of good and bad, sharing and greedy. It’s an innate sense of fairness. But that’s also subject to cultural influences. So does the end justify the means? People may think that in some situations it does because humans have a tendency to think like this.

GRRM: Gordon Dickson said that we have a tendency to identify with larger groups. In moral evolution, it looks like we’re going in the right direction if we take the broad view. For the Cro-Magnons, life was like Hobbes, nasty, brutish and short. It was centered on the family. Then there were the Greek city states. And then the Roman Empire. But even they didn’t include everyone. They still thought there were barbarians outside of the empire. The US is a country of immigrants like a melting pot or salad bowl. I like to think of myself as Terran. I have morality without nationalism in A Song of Ice and Fire. Primarily, the characters identified with their house. In the Hundred Years’ War, it was the Capetians and the Plantagenets, not France and Britain. It’s still happening today. Villainy is not a member of the group. So broaden the group to evolve morality.

PO: As writers, we used to have just a protagonist point of view, like Dudley Do-Right. Now we have multiple points of view so we can sympathize with the other side. But do we still write that or do it with an edge for one side that we cheer for? Or are there equally heroes and villains?

MJE: Not all characters are equal or there would be no story. You can empathize but the reader or writer doesn’t have to approve. How do you make characters good and bad so not to tempt the reader to identify with the wrong character to cheer for?

PO: Is everyone behind the same guy in Game of Thrones?

The audience laughs.

GRRM: We watch who orders which house T-shirts. And we had orders for all of the houses so there’s a mixed response. It’s a fallacy that history is a tale of good and bad guys. However, moral relativism isn’t true. Everyone is not equally bad. You can’t place equal blame. Look at each individual case with objectivity. I was raised as a Catholic but don’t practice anymore. But I find myself still rooting for the Catholics in history. There’s an innate tendency to root for your team.

DF: There’s an interaction between the writer and the reader. We guess the story that you want to read. If there’s a misstep of character, the readers will get angry. Thomas Covenant committed crimes that the readers didn’t like. So there’s a balance between expectation and how the writer tells the story. George challenges the reader to be flexible to see the other viewpoint.

PO: You need to show failings, how people are. When I finally realized that my dad was not perfect, it was crushing. You can show that good characters fail, but you still root for them.

GRRM: If you read my blog, you know I’m a football fan. So there’s the juxtaposition of the rational and the emotional. I know there are good and bad guys on every team and that they’re just doing their job. But I have emotional reactions to particular teams. You can create villains in your own mind.

MJE: I recommend my own book In the Name of Heaven. There are no good guys as groups. Everyone persecutes each other because all of them thought they were doing right. Morality hasn’t caught up with Zeno’s stoic ideal. It’s natural for humans to identify to their own.

AQ: What about privilege within the same group?

MJE: You’ll have more opportunity to do villainous things. Anyone in authority will tempt revolution and abuse.

PO: There’s the saying “absolute power will corrupt absolutely.”

AQ: Doesn’t everyone have their own personal journey?

GRRM: Yes. Every character will have a journey. Their choices are the milestones. Will they leave people to die or steal their food? It’s a question of choices and personal agendas.

AQ: You have a vast array of characters. Do you find that some characters are more difficult to write their point of view?

GRRM: Bran. It’s hard to write a young kid. How much does he understand what he sees? And I don’t write the three-year-old. How much do you remember when you’re three? I don’t think it’s difficult to do villainous characters. How difficult was it to write Arslan?

MJE: It was difficult. It took me eight years. It probably had something to do with exorcising my own demons. But once I got into it, I understood him but did not forgive. I was very disturbed when a reader showed me a first edition of the book that he had gotten from a used bookstore. There was a lot of underlining in the book where it was clear that the previous reader saw Arslan as the hero. So the writer needs to take responsibility.

AQ: How easy or difficult is it to generate a scary scene? Do you bring in a richly described villain?

GRRM: Fear doesn’t come from a scary villain. It comes from the fear that the hero won’t survive. The hero could be facing seventy-four orcs with a penknife and it might not be scary. The author needs to give cues and establish that nobody is safe.

* * *


(The Iron Throne from Game of Thrones)

* * *

Stay tuned for Part 14 which includes a panel on the revision process.

A Peek into MisCon 26, Part 12

In the panel transcriptions, I’m mostly paraphrasing what the panelists said. If there are any errors, they’re mine and mine alone. For any corrections, just drop me a note.

Previous posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9. Part 10, Part 11

The subject of the panel “The Many Ways to Tell a Story” was: “Stories come in many shapes and sizes, from books to comics to games to television and movies. How is storytelling the same among these media, and how does it differ? What are the challenges unique to each? What makes a good book versus movie versus comic?” The panelists were Kenneth Hite, George R. R. Martin, Peter Orullian, and Eldon Thompson. (AQ is an audience question.)


(Left to right: George R. R. Martin, Peter Orullian, Eldon Thompson, Kenneth Hite)

GRRM: How do you like to tell your story?

PO: I like multiple viewpoints to tell the relationship the characters have between one another. A person who does single viewpoint well is Patrick Rothfuss. You have to ask yourself whose eyes you’re telling it through.

ET: There are certain similarities despite the format. There are pros and cons.

KH: I provide the format in gaming as the gamemaster. Some role playing games have an implied story while others are broader. They allow as many stories as possible to emerge organically. Night’s Black Agents is a spy thriller with less handholding. For other fantasy games there’s a different framework.

GRRM: The gaming aspect is interesting. Is the video game a new art form? There are various forms that existed to tell stories. Poems, plays, and TV weren’t considered legitimate forms for storytelling when they emerged, but now they’re accepted. Are the video games developing in this direction?

PO: I work at Xbox and we prepare them like a franchise. In Halo, the first element is the story. It’s before developing the game engines or pixels. Then you figure out how to use the game itself–like novelizations, webisodes, or developing a movie. Corporations now look at this to create something novel. In transmedia, the story experience is larger than the sum of its parts.

ET: Transmedia has different facets. King’s Dark Tower series is too big for traditional film. Gaming can still deliver a story to the audience. It’s where the reader tells his own story. The API can allow gamers to build it. What’s limited is time development, so you can bring the gamer into it.

PO: Like fanfic.

ET: You could make that argument.

KH: In the tabletop game, you start from scratch. You can use any story or any character. There’s no set way to determine it. There are two types of video games: some have one arc where you can do side quests. In other games, you can do almost anything. It’s like a sandbox. But it’s hard to say it’s the same type of narrative like Gilgamesh or Casablanca. Narrative is collaborative in gaming.

GRRM: Consider the new versions of Sherlock Holmes like the one on the BBC or Robert Downey Jr.’s version. But Sherlock Holmes is in the public domain. Real Sherlockians would reject these new versions. There are lots of entertainment forms including video games which continue to evolve. But can it ever evolve into art? Art is usually the product of a single person. Our culture lauds artists as great. An author is given credit for bringing a book to art. Are video games waiting for its Shakespeare or due to its form, it will never come to pass?

KH: Bioshock is rather primitive. But you can’t say that they can’t be art.

PO: I would argue that the Shakespeare of video games is already here. They spend millions in development. There are cut scenes. And you feel like you’re participating with the story. There are alternate endings.

KH: That’s not unknown in novels. Bram Stoker had different endings.

PO: Storytelling is not mutually exclusive. You can bring people to the story. Transmedia can bring color. I would say it’s a Renaissance in gaming happening now.

AQ: What about PC gaming?

PO: The cloud is making it all converge so you can do gaming on any platform. Everything primarily resides in the cloud. It’s called cloud sourcing.

AQ: As a musician, I find that there’s a parallel between jazz musicians and gaming in regards to collaboration.

GRRM: You have a collaboration in a band. But the audience is still passive. In gaming, you involve the audience. So maybe it’s like karaoke.

KH: In role playing, you can draw a contrast with other art forms. It’s like a “jam session”. But can you call a jam session a composition? Is it just pure music or are you actually playing something? There are narrow stories in indie games.

GRRM: I’m nervous about collaborative things. Most great art are tragedies: The Great Gatsby, Romeo and Juliet, Casablanca, Citizen Kane. Part of us loves this stuff. But generally in a collaboration, you end up with a happy ending.

KH: When they staged King Lear, it ended up with a happy ending.

GRRM: If you give the audience a right to select the ending, then you may lose the tragic endings. That’s the danger.

ET: If you have no emotional attachment, there’s no reason to put in a happy ending. If everyone is telling the story then someone will ask, “why are you killing my character?” You lose the emotional power.

KH: The Odyssey has a happy ending.

GRRM: But only Odysseus had the happy ending. Everyone else didn’t.

AQ: What about Diablo? There are games that end happily or tragically or are ambiguous. Don’t you have to trust that they hire the right people to make the game? Isn’t there a different Shakespeare for everyone?

AQ: Halo seems like it has less of a story. They put out a new one, it seems, every month. Are there more commercial concerns that hinder storytelling?

PO: No. They have to think about a successful franchise. But they also think of the story. Of course, not all people will like the story just as not everyone has the same favorite novel.

KH: Like Merry Wives of Windsor.

AQ: Is there a plot to a video game if you have a controllable character?

PO: The video game is on rails, so you will get to the same endpoint no matter what you do.

GRRM: But what if you don’t want to shoot the bad guys?

KH: Then you bought the wrong video games.

GRRM: But I could negotiate with them…

PO: Have you read your own books? There are many video games from Bejeweled to games with an open world.

AQ: What about open source?

PO: There will be open source, but it’s like the Cliff Notes. Look at the construct, but never at the expense of the story.

KH: If you open up print, people will rip it off. One example was Dickens. His work was so popular during his lifetime, they wrote fanfic about it.

AQ: For adapting Game of Thrones to the screen, did they add scenes that you didn’t write? Did they need your approval?

GRRM: They didn’t need my approval. I think the extra scenes were fine as long as it added to the character, but I also dread it because it adds to the time it takes to tell the story.

AQ: How do you feel about new scenes when you haven’t finished the story?

GRRM: Well, we’ll find out down the road.

AQ: Is writing video games friendlier than Hollywood?

PO: There are some committees in video game development, but there’s someone who has the story bible and the shareholders. But it’s not as complicated as Hollywood.

ET: It’s more like TV than film. Less cooks in the kitchen.

GRRM: But isn’t there a problem with finding the Shakespeare of video games? That industry is very corporate. Is there a room for a visionary? Sid Meier is known for his games. But Halo has no byline. Is it all group think and committees?

PO: Single authors are emerging. Like the apps on the iPad. Draw Something had 55 million downloads in three weeks. Mobile gaming has the advantage of the size of its audience. Smaller game developers can be nimble. And bigger corporations are looking for small game developers. So gamers can now think about story and game design.

KH: There are other corporate cultures–like the Japanese and French–where people buy based on creator. It takes a while to get recognized. It was a while before Shakespeare got his name on his plays. For comic books, it wasn’t until Frank Miller and Alan Moore came on the scene in the 80s.

PO: But you need to distinguish it from names that are actually franchise names.

KH: Like Clint Eastwood or James Cameron.

PO: There’s opportunity for a person not part of a studio.

AQ: What about crowd funding?

PO: It’s like Kickstarter.

AQ: With all the new video games, what will happen to books?

GRRM: Books are not going anywhere. Platforms are changing but people still love reading.

PO: Video games may replace the table top games.

KH: There are people who only do World of Warcraft or watch Buffy because it fulfills all of their entertainment needs. But for most people, they like several different things.

GRRM: I began going to science fiction and fantasy cons in 1971 as a comics fan. But every year, those fans get older and there aren’t many kids. But it’s because they’re traditionally hostile to new media which keeps out the kids. And that makes me worried. But then I come to a convention like this where there are younger people. There’s Comic-Con but it’s not exactly the same. It has a wider, younger base. Publishers will find out that younger people will read. So people will do video games and books. And get gamers to read.

* * *

Stay tuned for Part 13 which is a panel on writing villains.

A Peek into MisCon 26, Part 8

In the panel transcriptions, I’m mostly paraphrasing what the panelists said. If there are any errors, they’re mine and mine alone. For any corrections, just drop me a note.

Previous posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

On Sunday morning (5/27), I managed to get to the panel “Plotting Over the Course of a Series” a couple of minutes before it started. The panelists were J.A. Pitts, Peter Orullian, and George R. R. Martin. (AQ is an audience question.)

JAP: There are many types of series. But how far out do you plan?

PO: When I first sold, it was a complete surprise. And they wanted outlines for books two and three by 48 hours. I’ve consulted pro writers who said that it didn’t matter what you put in the outlines. They’re guideposts. But I already knew the ending.

GRRM: When I first started A Song of Ice and Fire, I had two one-page outlines–which bears no resemblance to the books. The publishers like books in triads, groups of three. First you come up with an overplot. I did my Wildcard series with a New Mexico gaming group where we had a retreat for the writers to plot it out and hammer out the details. The act of writing creates a new story. Some of it is technique you can get from writers in Hollywood. You can write a television episode and get help from other writers. Some writers like to break a story. But I don’t like anyone else breaking my stories.

JAP: Tor asked me how many books I had planned. I told them I already planned three, so they bought three. I break my stories with my son who finds the piece that is missing in the story. You need multiple arches and character plotlines. You need to find anything that’s surprising.

PO: I use Excel for outlining. I have a row for characters and a column for what happens. But by the second book, I’m coloring outside the lines so I needed revision. For me, it’s more of a discovery process, which is part of the fun. For writers like Brandon Sanderson, they need more architecture.

GRRM: Not all writers are pure “architects” or “gardeners.” Do you have a green thumb? Then you’re more like a gardener–you plant the seed and let it grow. If you’re an architect, you have to plan out how many rooms and so on. Writing is both. But then again, architects really don’t do any building. They let a contractor do it. So if the architect makes the contractor do the work, what’s the writer equivalent?

JAP: James Patterson and Tom Clancy. They have other people write their books.

GRRM: That’s fraud! It’s like V.C. Andrews. She became even more popular after she died.

JAP: I ended up putting stuff meant for book 4 in book 3, so the title changed. I put in many plot points subconsciously. It’s like the gun on the mantlepiece. It’s organic. But I do like to outline to see what to do next in order to get to the end. Do you do a different arc for each character? What about secondary characters?

PO: I trust the process. Sometimes you drop a hook and don’t know why. But trust it. It will work out if you relax and go with the narrative.

GRRM: I don’t do plot arcs for all of my characters. Some are bit players–they end up dying or they’re there to just serve tea. But I certainly have arcs for major characters and major secondary characters. Sometimes I don’t know all the details from A-Z, but there’s also a lot of discovery. That’s the fun of writing.

JAP: One negative side is if you have interesting things happen, but then you can’t get back to what you originally planned. Do you end up changing your plans or do you prune back? Connie Willis listens to what her characters have to say, but then she tells the characters what will happen. Do you religiously stick to outlines?

PO: I color outside lines a lot. My editor tells me to pull out the gratuitous writing, so only a tenth of what is written is used. However, I don’t get too far to the point where I need to scrap the book. I write to please myself. But I also have a day job so I can write for myself.

GRRM: When people label something in a book as gratuitous, is it unnecessary to the main plot? I don’t think that anything is gratuitous. Plot is only one element and not the most important. Otherwise, we would just read the Cliff Notes. Create a book that’s immersive. Great books will make people feel like they lived it. Critics will call a lot of detail, sensory detail, gratuitous. But by describing, it makes scenes come alive. They also call sex scenes gratuitous. But the journey is the thing and the details in the journey. Richness of detail might not be in some other genres–like John Grisham. I like gratuitous scenes.

PO: One example of detail is the description of women’s clothing in Robert Jordan’s books. Other writers might have no plot but rich description.

JAP: Learn the rules so you know how to break them. If words don’t do two or three things, then cut them out. It’s like poetry. But you can’t be so sparse. You have to figure out what’s right for your writing. One example is the wedding feast scene in Dickens’ Great Expectations. Keep the reader engaged and don’t bore them.

GRRM: Different readers are bored by different things. I get bored by action movies–especially car chase scenes. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote a screenplay with twenty pages of just talking in a car because he thought people would be interested. Then again, I liked My Dinner with Andre. Write for yourself and hold tight to it. Write what you want to read and hopefully you’ll find an audience. Urban fantasy has the advantage of being in the modern day. You don’t need to describe McDonald’s because everyone knows what it is. But in epic fantasy, you need to describe the inn.

PO: James Patterson used “lobby” as a shorthand. But in a secondary world, get into sensory detail. Due diligence of imagination will be the view lens of what happens with the plot.

JAP: I don’t like to take shorthand. I don’t take my characters to Starbucks. I take them to some other coffee shop. Plotting is the skeleton. I mostly describe character.

AQ: If you write a phrase of dialogue or prose into the outline, does it make it into the story or is it more organic?

GRRM: Outlines are more functional than polished. More comes from the actual writing.

PO: James Patterson created a spare part of a novel, turned it in, and it worked. That became his formula. When Kevin J. Anderson builds a building, he needs a detailed plan. Brandon Sanderson writes many notes including narrative. But don’t be slavish to the outline.

AQ: You mentioned the gun on the mantlepiece, Chekhov’s law. How often do you realize you have forgotten to set up a plot point?

GRRM: Often, because I get distracted. It’s easily resolved in a novel by rewriting the novel. It’s tricky in a multi-part saga since the first couple of books are already published. Gene Wolfe, the author of The Book of the New Sun, was the editor of an engineering magazine so he wrote on weekends. He wrote four books in first draft and then revised all four at the same time. That’s the way to do it. But realistically, you either need a full-time job, be disciplined, win the lottery, or marry an understanding woman with a good job.

PO: If you’re still editing book one, you can still go back. But after it’s published–be thoughtful so you don’t paint yourself into a corner later.

JAP: Balance what’s right for your career.

AQ: It’s hard to know how much research to do. How much time do you set aside for ground work and outlining?

JAP: I take the same amount of time to do an outline as the first draft of a 90,000 word manuscript.

PO: I do a lot of thinking about world creation although not all of it. I do some creating as I go.

GRRM: I don’t do outlines.

AQ: Are you ever surprised by a minor plot twist?

GRRM: Yes. Sometimes it leads to the best stuff, a better idea. Sometimes it’s a dead end so I need to go back.

PO: I literally had a character turn left rather than right and it turned out the path was my favorite. Once I got most of the way through the book and decided to do something else. The revisions took a lot of work and were grueling, but it panned out.

JAP: Sometimes I do an outline and get bored. So I trash the outline and make a new one that’s better.

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Stay tuned for Part 9, which includes a panel on the psychology of going into space.

A Peek into MisCon 26, Part 4

In the panel transcriptions, I’m mostly paraphrasing what the panelists said. If there are any errors, they’re mine and mine alone. For any corrections, just drop me a note.

Previous posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Sometimes, no matter how many pictures you take, they all come out blurry. Or some random person’s head is in the way. Nonetheless, I have notes from the panel on constructed languages called “Creating Realistic Languages.” The panelists were Diana Pharaoh Francis, James Glass, and George R. R. Martin. (AQ is an audience question.)

JG: Is it really a requirement to make up a language in fantasy and science fiction?

GRRM: It’s not required. You might need a new language in a fantasy or ancient setting or in a world where it makes sense because the people speak multiple languages. Usually you render the main language as English for the reader. Tolkien set up different languages for us to follow by saying something like, “This rock is called Weathertop, but in Elvish it’s this and Dwarvish it’s that, etc.” But I have a problem coming up with one name let alone five names for every damn rock. Tolkien was just showing off. It’s like an iceberg. Nine-tenths of his work was below the surface. But for the rest of us, we give the illusion that we’ve created a language–it’s more like ice cubes on a rack. I once had a fan who asked me for a dictionary on High Valyrian. But I had only made up six words. In Game of Thrones, we hired a language creation expert to make it up. He was part of an entire language creation society.

DPF: That’s called “passing the buck”! You want consistency of language. Language helps create the world, so it must be developed in conjunction with the world. One easy way is to use a language that already exists. In my work, I’ve used Latvian and Estonian. Do you really need to have a foreign language in your work? No. But do readers expect you to? Yes.

JG: In science fiction, I never made up a language. But I have used French and German. You can also use English inflection–different formalities can be used to simulate another language like Chinese. If you want to create a language, how do you go about it?

DPF: If you have countries side by side, they should have similar languages because of crossover. They should share language commonalities.

GRRM: You have to consider: How do you render the language on the written page? Does the viewpoint character understand the language? If the character already understands French, then you can render it in English. If not, keep it in the original language. This will vary if you have different viewpoint characters with various abilities to understand language. And how does this translate to screen? A lot is about ear. Elvish sounds different than Dwarvish.

JG: You can describe the sound of the language. For instance, with Polish and Russian, you can say one sounds softer than the other and then translate it to English.

DPF: I agree.

JG: What do you think establishes language to match culture?

GRRM: Language not only fits the culture, but it also shapes it. In science fiction, different languages shape culture. See Jack Vance and Samuel R. Delany. If there is no word for one thing, then that thing does not exist in that culture. For example, there are many Eskimo words for snow so they can recognize many different types of snow. If a language has no word for thank you, then that culture has no concept for it.

JG: It’s the same for a jungle culture…

DPF: Language also reveals religion. How people swear and curse reflects culture. What’s blasphemous and taboo in that culture and why? Culturally, you expect that certain classes of people can or cannot say certain things.

GRRM: In Deadwood, David Milch determined that the characters didn’t speak like those in other westerns. Thieves and criminals were foul-mouthed, so he wanted to capture this in speech. But during the Victorian era, the worst that was used was “hell” or “damn”. So if he reproduced this for the modern audience, it didn’t seem unusual. So the writer had to ratchet up the speech to capture the flavor of the time rather than go for accuracy. In other words, he had to convey the feeling of accuracy by being inaccurate.

JG: What about the reverse: what does culture censor? For example, making a comment about someone’s dress is punishable by death.

DPF: In my Crosspointe novels, people live by the customs and by what people are willing to do or not do. There’s lingo, like on a sailing ship or what you do for a living. Here, we have the terms soda, coke, and pop. Dialects tell where you came from and the economic situation. Language also builds the world through syntax and word order. Readers tend to hate arbitrary apostrophes in names.

JG: Readers also hate words that are not pronounceable.

DPF: I once found an angel name in real folklore and used it in a story. But apparently no reader can pronounce it. Instead, they call my character “Tootsie Roll.”

GRRM: I don’t use any long names, but I still get letters from fans about pronunciation. In LeGuin’s Earthsea books, she’s very particular about the pronunciation of “Ged”. It’s “Ged” [hard “g”] not “Jed”.

DPF: Also “Shannara” by Terry Goodkind.

JG: What if the language isn’t spoken or written?

GRRM: In The Long Price series by Daniel Abraham, verbal language is supplemented with gestures and poses. There’s a pose of submissiveness that the character takes while saying “sorry.” But he doesn’t describe any of the poses! What does the pose “I don’t give a shit?” look like? Nonverbal speech looks good in prose, but does it look good on screen?

DPF: That’s like manners during the Victorian era. When you bowed, how did you bow? There were different bows for insults, asking for marriage, etc. It’s called a physical language.

JG: Chinese is a tonal language. In a sci-fi story where tone is used, the language is sung rather than spoken.

DPF: Or the African Click language. Another example of tone is how you say it. For instance the phrase “bless your heart” can be meant as an insult. It’s not so friendly. The speaker can kill with words without you knowing it.

GRRM: In Donnie Brasco, “fuggedaboutit” has many different meanings.

JG: What about other means of communication? Like color. What’s the color of pain? Is there nonverbal language in fantasy?

DPF: There are gestures. For instance, our gesture for “okay” actually means “flicking people off” in Brazil. The word “bloody” doesn’t mean much to us, but it’s a pretty bad word in the UK.

JG: What if you were forced to make up a complete language like Klingon? How would you go about making up the words and grammar?

DPF: When I was getting my Ph.D. in lit theory, I learned that language is arbitrary. You just assign a name to something. You make words up.

GRRM: It’s a daunting task. I would hire someone to do it. I would go back to the roots. Is it fantasy or science fiction? Who are the people? What is the culture? What type of people are they? What are their vocal capabilities? What’s the technological level? However, you can’t just call a rabbit a “snerp” and say it’s science fiction. That’s not a language but a code.

JG: For grammar, I would just follow the grammar in a modern language. But there would be words missing because in some cultures there would be no concept for certain things due to differences in environment.

GRRM: You also need to consider sexual codes and habits. Asimov had three sexes in one of his stories. So what pronouns could be used? Another example is LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness. Language also tells us about the sexual attitudes of that society. For instance “waiter” and “waitress”–“waitress” and words like it were discarded after the feminist movement.

DPF: It also tells us about how people think about race. Like “black” and “African-American.”

AQ: In speculative fiction, how much thought is put in on the change of language over time? Language changes over thousands of years and different time periods.

DPF: Look at England. Over a time of a thousand years, there is a considerable difference. Some people keep some words the same as the past, but others changed. Words enter the language due to religion, technology, and physical changes.

GRRM: Language changes over time, but some languages change faster than others. If you compare Portuguese in Portugal and Brazilian Portuguese, it’s like Victorian English and modern English. But Spanish is pretty much the same everywhere. Except in Barcelona. But you have to cheat about some things or your book will end up being more about the language than the story. That’s why in science fiction there’s the universal translator.

JG: Groups of languages can also combine into one so that only one language is left. There are different evolutionary paths for language. Even just by adding new words for technology, language gets more complex as time goes on.

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Stay tuned for Part 5, which is on the query letter.

A Peek into MisCon 26, Part 2

In the panel transcriptions, I’m mostly paraphrasing what the panelists said. If there are any errors, they’re mine and mine alone. For any corrections, just drop me a note.

Previous post: Part 1

I attended the Friday opening ceremonies but was mostly puzzled. I think there were a lot of inside jokes that I simply did not get.


(Guests of Honor, left to right: George R. R. Martin, Kenneth Hite, Rob Carlos)

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Eventually, I made my way to the “Throne Room”, a.k.a. the hotel lobby where the con organizers had placed the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones, to see the evening panel “The Effect of Setting on Story.” The panelists were Peter Orullian, Joyce Reynolds-Ward, Eldon Thompson, and J.A. Pitts as the moderator. (AQ is an audience question.)

JP: How important is setting? In The Maltese Falcon, the setting is important because the city is used as a character.

PO: In Lord of the Flies the setting works metaphorically as the characters move toward the wild state. James Lee Burke uses lush southern settings, creating feelings of lushness and sweltering heat which works well with mystery and convoluted plot twists. It’s also instructive to look outside of genre.

JR: Setting can be a character and should be developed with the same level of thought. In John Steinbeck’s work, the setting influences the protagonists and story arc. There is one school of criticism, eco-criticism, where they look at setting in particular. Tolkien personified parts of the setting, such as Moria.

ET: Setting can set the tone of the story and the emotional resonance. The setting can create conflict where conflict is lacking. George Lucas does this in Empire Strikes Back where the characters struggle against a frozen world. You can create more drama with a dynamic setting.

JP: In modern and urban fantasy, the reader is hooked with the familiar before introduced to the fantastic. Is it harder or easier to do familiar or non-familiar settings?

PO: You can use shorthand in a familiar world. If you say “lobby”, everyone already knows what a lobby is. If you’re doing a secondary world, you need detail to ground you in the new world. Detail makes it seem concrete and gives flavor to the story.

JR: Doing a secondary world is easier because you’re making it up and no one will ding you on the mistakes.

ET: It depends on what you want to do. Get the details right if it’s in the real world. If you make it up, stay consistent or it will kick the reader out of the story.

JP: For example, get a calendar so you know the phases of the moon. Always have internal consistency and don’t change the rules in the middle unless you have a good explanation. Let the reader fill in the details. Can you overdo detail?

ET: Yes. Don’t bore the reader.

JR: You want enough detail to feel real but not to put the readers to sleep. For instance, you can add detail by being specific, like “redwood tree”, or slip in bits and pieces in the narrative. Don’t write whole paragraphs of detail.

PO: In Carrion Comfort, Dan Simmons set his story in the South, but he’s never been there. But he saw pictures and read about it. He researches by “immersion reading.” So you can fake it. One specific detail can go far to establish your credibility.

JR: If you’re not using specific words, you’re also using weasel words.

JP: What about other sensory settings? In Alyx Dellamonica’s Indigo Springs, time flows differently so setting changes. In other books, authors use smell.

ET: The visual sense is overused (except in film where it’s limited to the visual). Show the way someone walks. Smell is a sense that’s underutilized, so it will stand out. The best sensory writing comes from poetry which is used for maximum impact.

AQ: In radio drama, how is sound used as a setting?

JP: Sounds are incredibly important since there is no visual.

PO: You need texture, audio cues. Smell can be typical. Go into a bar and listen to how people talk and other sounds. How writers write dialogue is not how we speak. Don’t neglect the other senses but also don’t use all the senses at the same time.

JR: Touch is important, especially if you have a character who is working with his hands.

AQ: If something has a specific name in a secondary world but also has an ordinary name in the real world, how do you balance this with setting?

PO: You need balance. Words have different connotations. But it’s a writer’s choice.

ET: You have to have something to ground the reader first.

PO: You can contextualize. For example, Patrick Rothfuss includes invention with clarity.

ET: And in George Martin’s work, it’s twisted just enought that it doesn’t seem anachronistic.

AQ: Can you legally write about a business?

JP: If it’s generic, such as a character going into Starbucks to get coffee, it’s okay. But if you’re saying how bad it is, it’s libel.

AQ: What about real people?

JP: If the person is dead, like Abraham Lincoln, that’s okay. But if the person is alive, that can also be libel. If you’re worried about it, just change the name.

PO: If you’re worried about it, you should get books about copyright and libel. Writers don’t do enough thinking about setting as metaphor. For example, the hollow man living in a wasteland. Use the setting as a macrocosm of the theme. Writers used to do this more. Also what about topography–who or why do people live there?

JR: In one of my books, I have the “dry line” where trees physically separate countries.

JP: For anyone under thirty, they grew up on TV and became lazy with consumption. It’s too fast. You need to immerse yourself in books and take time to delve into detail.

JR: Steinbeck had working journals which were very descriptive. For instance, in his journal for East of Eden, he consciously uses outdoor settings for foreshadowing.

PO: In Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, the setting mirrors the darkness of the main character.

AQ: With all the detail, how do you keep the story moving?

JP: You need to keep a balance. You can get a lot of imagery with a few words. Use three sentences rather than several pages.

PO: Not all writers are good at everything. Your novel can still be good if you’re good at things other than detail.

AQ: Can people see the same setting in different ways?

ET: Setting is the crucible for things to happen. You need to build it to force the character to grow. An example is Frodo’s journey in Lord of the Rings.

JP: Setting enables you to show external turmoil to indicate internal turmoil. Sam (from LOTR) had a totally different view point.

PO: Characters show what’s happening internally by how they view things.

ET: This is not how the author sees things.

AQ: Why do some authors, such as Anne McCaffrey, have other worlds but only use the background in side stories?

JP: That’s doing your homework but not showing it in the main story. Another example is The Silmarillion.

PO: However, there are exceptions. There are some writers who are so good you don’t mind reading pages of detail. These are suggestions, not rules.

AQ: How do you put alternate languages in context?

JP: Just don’t bore me. No apostrophes. Don’t drag the reader out of the story. Alternate languages should be used effectively.

JR: One thing that drags me out of a fantasy story is when they use modern day names.

PO: For invented languages, you can create a few words. It’s not necessary to create an entire dictionary. Be thoughtful about it, especially if it has a specific meaning.

AQ: What about creating naming languages like Tolkien?

JP: Tolkien’s names came from Welsh and mythology.

ET: The key thing is consistency. If you use a name with a hard “C”, don’t just use a “K” in the next name.

JP: If you know someone who knows another language, have them check it.

AQ: In Firefly, they used Chinese. In LOTR, Germanic dialects were used for the dwarves.

PO: Consistency and balance is good.

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Stay tuned for Part 3, one of the Saturday morning sessions.

A Peek into MisCon 26, Part 1

In the panel transcriptions, I’m mostly paraphrasing what the panelists said. If there are any errors, they’re mine and mine alone. For any corrections, just drop me a note.

Friday (5/25) was rainy and the traffic was bad. When I finally got to MisCon, I thought I was late. I ended up stumbling halfway into a “Meet Rob Carlos” panel. Carlos is apparently known for being an artist on The Wheel of Time collectible card game. In the panel (or what I heard of it anyway), he was mainly giving advice to people to not gush over famous artists and writers like crazy fans, but to talk to them like real people. Because, surprise!, they’re real people, too.

To be honest, I was mostly there to attend the writing panels, not really talk to people. If that makes me anti-social, so be it. (I don’t game or cosplay. I’ve read stuff by some of the authors, but I’m no rabid fan. Besides, I’m a nobody and they’re busy. There are other people who are more assertive, but I find them obnoxious. And I don’t want to be obnoxious.)

* * *

Anyways, I stuck around and was able to get a reasonably good seat for the panel on “Tackling the Silver Screen” which was attended by Jay Lee, George R. R. Martin, and Eldon Thompson who was the moderator.

GRRM: After one of my novels tanked, I managed to interest Phil DeGuerre into hiring me to work on The Twilight Zone. From there, I became a screenwriter for ten years. Hollywood is mostly conservative and they want a sure thing. You should keep writing and not worry about the money. There will be adversity, no security, but you need a willingness to gamble. I had no formal training in screenwriting. I only bought a book about screenwriting “for dummies” and looked at other screenplays.

ET: I went to UCLA to study screenplays but actually sold my books first.

GRRM: Compared to other shows, The Twilight Zone was unusual because it had different lengths. Typically, you need to write to take in account teasers and commercial breaks. I learned from adapting short stories to script form. Writing for screen and TV is easier because others (actors, directors, set designers) fill in the details. Structure is important and you need a great ear for dialogue. William Goldman said, “Structure is everything. Nobody knows anything.” A novelist needs technique for world building, description, mood, prose. For a script, you can just write: “They fight” and have the stunt coordinator do everything else. What is hard about Hollywood is the politics. HBO spends four times that of the networks. Game of Thrones gets $5 million per episode. From 1985 to 1995, TV was restricted in what it could do: standards and practices. Know who you’re getting into bed with. One mistake is to get excited and just take an offer without thinking it through. They will want to change your script. You can say no. “No” is the sexiest word you can say because they will come back with a bigger dump truck full of money. People in Hollywood try to solve everything with money–which weakens many prose writers. My house was saved by a bad movie. It’s like selling your child to the gypsies. You need to be in LA for script writing.

ET: They will call for meetings at the last minute.

GRRM: It’s not enough to be a good writer; Hollywood demands you to be good in the room, a salesman.

ET: How do you deal with revisions?

GRRM: I can’t handle it. I only associated with the good staff at The Twilight Zone and Beauty and the Beast. But there was development hell.

ET: There are notes for revisions from people who know less about writing.

JL: On the web, you have full control of the show.

GRRM: But once you create a hit show, they don’t fuck with you. You have to like rejection. Hold onto quality and your dream. Harlan Ellison said it was like climbing a mountain of shit to pluck the rose at the top. But after ten years of climbing to the top, you realize that you’ve lost your sense of smell. But this is a golden age for television. (Film is another matter, they cater to the lowest common denominator.) In television, there are many buyers and people are taking changes on shows.

ET: How do you keep sane? I keep writing a book series so I have something where I’m my own boss. Some people say you can’t do both screenwriting and writing books and that you have to pick one.

GRRM: I only write one script per year. The rest, I write books while consulting. Running a show is a fifteen hour per day job. Do one thing and do it the best. In development, you make a lot of money, but you’re writing for four guys in a room.

JL: I’m doing something in “new media”, a web series called Legendary: A Tale of Blood and Steel in Portland. There are horses.

GRRM: Where do you get the money to do it and profit?

JL: Felicia Day had a model that worked. We do a full length TV episode and go to the distributors to get a guarantee on viewership, not funding.

ET: How do you balance it with creativity?

JL: In new media, you’re playing fifteen different roles. Everyone wants to help. Some paid, some volunteer.

GRRM: Who are your actors?

JL: We bring guest stars on. It’s not easy to get a project to be a SAG New Media Project. But as long as people contribute, we can continue. We also do crowd funding.

GRRM: All of this is experimental. Like whether people can make money on it. It’s not proven.

JL: But the Halo web series works. And promo videos like Call of Duty.

GRRM: Ultimately, in the future, we will have advanced computer technology so we can dispense with the actors. So writers can do it all. But technology has a long way to go.

ET: So what about independent and collaborative works? In a collaborative work, we need a central voice to say what’s bad or good or it will devolve into the lowest common denominator.

GRRM: In the French auteur theory, there is one creator. But they made the mistake of giving control to the director not the writer. But you need a powerful director to lead the creative team, not some studio guy.

ET: They figure that people don’t go to the movies for the writers. Hollywood is not friendly to writers.

GRRM: But TV is run by writers.

ET: Where writers have control, the best things develop. How do you adapt a book to film?

GRRM: You have to make changes because you’re moving to a different medium. You also have to consider the realities. You can have horses or Stonehenge but not both because of logistics. You have to consider the budget, shooting time, and other practical things. On the other hand, 99% of adaptation changes are not necessary. This is because other people think they can do it better. They go too far with the adaptation because they think they can improve on it. Those that stick close to the source are usually better than those that don’t.

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Stay tuned for Part 2, a continuation on the Friday session.