“For me, as both a reader and a writer, it’s about the journey, not the ultimate destination.”
George R.R. Martin, author of A Song of Fire and Ice
My fabulous sister Stephanie is a fan of A Song of Fire and Ice, the epic fantasy series that’s the springboard for the wildly popular HBO series Game of Thrones. The adoration that George R.R. Martin has certainly sparked my interest. A Dance with Dragons, the fifth novel in his series, has been on The New York Times bestseller list for almost a year — and it’s still going strong. George’s avid fans can’t wait for the next installment — what a great place to be for a writer!
Not bad for a kid from Bayonne, New Jersey. “Growing up in Bayonne,” George recalls, “I had a world that was five blocks long. My house was on First Street and my school was on Fifth Street. But my imagination wanted a world that was much bigger than that. So I would read about distant planets and ancient Rome and Shanghai and Gotham City.”
George has been a writer all his life: he started his epic series in 1991 — and still has three more of the seven books planned to write. By his own admission, he’s a “slow writer.” Most authors, George believes, have one of two predominant writing styles: they’re either “architects” or “gardeners.” Architect-writers have a blueprint they work from: they know exactly how their story will unfold. Gardener-writers just “dig a hole in the ground and plant a seed and water it” — and something grows on the page. They know what they’ve planted, but there are still plenty of surprises.”
It’s a rare writer who’s “Purely an architect or purely a gardener,” but George considers himself much closer to a gardener. He knows the end of the series and the fates of his main characters, but discovers a lot more along the way.
Many of George’s fans have different favorite characters in his series — and that’s just fine with him. “If you create a fictional character and everybody loves the character or hates the character, you have probably created a piece of cardboard.”
George goes for complexity and confusion in his fiction. His goal is to “Fill the stories with imaginary people who will become more real to my readers than the people in their lives.” That’s a tall order, but what writer in their heart of hearts doesn’t want the same thing? Are you more of an architect or a gardener — something to think about.
Write on, George!