Writing Lessons

Mary E. Ulrich has written books on autism and is an aspiring romance author.  Mary looks for lessons on writing everywhere and she found some as she read George R. R. Martin’s series on Ice and Fire. The first book is Game of Thrones.  I thought the lessons she found were very good and asked her to share them here with us.

Lessons for authors:

When you have a twist in the story it should be significant.

You can kill off a main character and then have that hero still be a central
figure throughout the rest of the story.

Contrary to standard wisdom, you can have a cast of thousands and name them.

Characters names need to use all the alphabet letters. i.e. There are too
many “A” and “Tryon.” names.

It is smart to make families have the same last name.

It is tricky to blend magic, fantasy with reality. i.e. The dragons, the
“others” .. (wondering if the “others” were used by Martin before the “Lost”
series came along?)

There are numerous creative ways to give backstory.

It is okay to assume the reader has read the previous books and you can dive
right in.

The entire series works because even though each character has their own
chapter, the entire series is written in 3rd person.

The characters have their own voices, i.e. “Jon Snow you know nothing.”

The bigger themes of “Fire and Ice” pull the books together.

Historical traditions can be blended into the story. i.e. There were good
and bad knights-not just the King Arthur type heroes, cutting off
fingers/heads was considered justice..

Characters can change.

I really love this master writer. His books are a gift to everyone.
My favorite sites for writing information are www.menwithpens.ca and storyfix.com My blog is http://ClimbingEveryMountain.com

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7 Responses to Writing Lessons

  1. C.D. Hersh says:

    Ok, I get all the points but number 2. How does one kill off the main character and still have them be the hero after they are dead? Anyone know how that works or can site an example?

    • Michele says:

      I wondered about that one, too. For about two seconds. Then I thought of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca where the first wife is dead long before the book opens but is such an influence and presence in the story.

      I also thought of Desperate Housewives. One of the housewives dies in the first episode, but she narrates all the episodes and keeps coming up in various ways.

      But, you say, it wouldn’t work in a romance. What about Ghost with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore? Not a romance where they live happily ever after, but still a very romantic movie where the dead hero plays a very active part.

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  2. #2. My best advice is to read the books. A main character dies at the end of book one. Then in each of the subsequent books the character’s family, dreams, jobs… keep influencing the story. Now, part of the fantasy of the Ice and Fire series is that some of the other main characters who die come back as people who can’t die–not exactly ghosts–not sure what they would be called (book 4). Oh, oh, oh… and wait until you read about the “Drowning god” and their “baptism”.

    I haven’t seen the new movie about 911, but I’m betting Tom Hank’s character impacts the story even after he dies.

    Hope this helps, I know it seems bizarre, but it takes a lot of guts to have one of the main characters die.