I am way late to the party on Game of Thrones.
If you didn’t already know that about me, I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re surprised because my friends used to say to me: “But Jen, I would have thought Game of Thrones would be totally YOUR THING!” To which I would reply: “Me too. But… meh.”
For whatever reason, I couldn’t force myself to get interested or invested, despite reading the first book. Despite watching the first season. But, I was determined to give it another shot and now… now, I’m invested. I’m not reading the books, which is strange for me. I think George R.R. Martin tells a great story, but his writing style isn’t a good mesh for my reading preferences.
Doesn’t mean I don’t think that he and the television show adapted from his books don’t have plenty to teach me about writing.
For starters, the characters in Game of Thrones are layered and fascinating. The villains may be villains, but we understand the codes they live by, the things that motivate them. We can see character and relationship arcs. We see bravery and cowardice, cruelty and kindness, nobility and moral indifference. We see characters who exhibit all different levels of these traits and sometimes we even see these traits in the same characters who are figureheads for the opposite traits. Good people can have bad days. Villains can have a moment of kindness.
We have Arya, inarguably a protagonist of the story, who has a darkness inside of her.
We have Cersei, whose main redeeming quality is that she loves her children.
We have Joffrey who… No, actually, Joffrey is just an arrogant little prick.
I take all of that away from watching Game of Throne, but actually, what I take away the MOST is this:
Because that’s the thing: it is a scary feeling as a fan to not know if your favorite character is going to make it, but damn, it makes for an invested experience. Damn if I’m not on the edge of my seat every time there’s a new episode because no one is safe.
Safety is a nice thing to have in reality, but it doesn’t make for a very interesting story. What makes for an interesting story is characters that take risks and make mistakes, who don’t have a guarantee that they’ll make it to the end in one piece or at all.
Happy endings are great. They’re nice, but not everyone can have a happy ending.
What does this mean for my characters in Book 2 of Threats of Sky and Sea? I’m not sure exactly. I love my protagonists and want very much for them to be happy, but I’m not sure they will be. They’re essentially going to war. War inevitably brings sorrow, pain, and strife. Things are won and lost.
I want the story to be fierce.
And, thanks to Game of Thrones, I’m paying extra attention to that.