I’m really excited for the new season of Game of Thrones starting today! Admittedly, I have not read one word of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books, but I have been captivated by the TV series based on the books that’s on HBO. The series is spectacular in its intricacies of plot, action, and characters. Many, many times I’ve been surprised by what happens (hello, “Red Wedding” episode from last season). Sure, it’s difficult to keep up with what’s going on. And I also don’t catch every nuance—there are times I have to go back and see an episode again. But it’s thrilling for not knowing what’s going to happen next. Much different than other TV shows out there that are fun their first season, and then simply follow that pattern that made them successful, and then grow boring.
I ran across an interview of George R.R. Martin on Dailystar.com in which he addresses surprises in books, as well as interesting characters:
“Nothing bores me more than books where you read two pages and you know exactly how it’s going to come out. I want twists and turns that surprise me, characters that have a difficult time and that I don’t know if they’re going to live or die.”
“I like gray characters, fantasy for too long has been focused on very stereotypical heroes and villains,” Martin said.
“And when I look around, I don’t see pure white shining heroes and absolutely black villains, I see a lot of flawed human beings who have it in them to be heroes or villains; it’s a matter of the choices that they make in crucial periods in their lives, in moments of stress and emotional turmoil.” [Quote from Dailystar.com]
Which reminds me of the huge array of characters in Game of Thrones, some of which are actually still alive and haven’t been beheaded or shot by arrows or had their throats slit or … you get the idea. The last part of the quote rings especially true when I think about the story: the characters are put into dire situations, and they are forced to make decisions that have a great deal of consequences. We’ve seen characters promise one thing, change their mind, and then havoc results. The story has been an epic journey to follow these amazing characters in this fantasy world.
Martin’s quote also brings to mind other characters, like Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) in the first season of True Detective, which wrapped up recently. Both were very flawed guys who were trying to make sense of a fucked-up world. Cohle especially was an interesting character—I can’t think of another character so philosophically affected by what he’s experienced. This was a show that kept me guessing and delivered with a story that worked well. Great characters and suspense, with a satisfying ending. Many shows try to throw too many twists and turns with an attempt to puzzle you, but that puzzle ends up like a jumbled ball of string that’s just confusing.
Another TV character that springs to mind is Fiona Gallagher (Emmy Rossum) in the Shameless series on Showtime—another show that definitely keeps me guessing on what the hell’s gonna happen next. Her character during this season in particular has shown flaws. In past seasons, we’ve seen this character work her butt off to take care of her brothers and sister. But now, her responsibility is cracking, and she’s having fun in that Gallagher way. But certainly paying the price for it. Lots of added drama from a character previously seen as more stable than others on the show. A nice plot move, in my humble opinion.
As for book characters, Martin’s quote made me think of Lisbeth Salander in the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series. These books were written by Stieg Larsson, who died way too soon because the guy could seriously put a good yarn together, and he had a powerful cause in speaking out to denounce violence against women. His three books had plenty of mystery and action to hurl the story forward. In the midst of it was Salander, a character who suffered violence early in life and was formed by it, and then came back at the perpetrators with a brilliant mind. An intriguing character with a lot of depth.
Martin’s quote—and these examples of characters that have stuck with me—challenge me to write characters with depth in my stories. I’m sure there will be times in my erotic fiction that are flat, cardboard characters because I want to zoom in on the sexy action. You know, get right to the hot stuff. But there are other times where I want to add more depth. For example, in my “Opening Day” story, I had the husband (Justin) dealing with being laid off from his job, and how his wife (Michelle) helped him. I could’ve simply written a story about a married couple getting busy on the couch while watching a baseball game on TV, but I liked putting in some more substance than that.
Now, back to dreaming of dragons and wondering what will happen next on Game of Thrones… because, Tyrion, the wait is almost over.
One last thing: I discovered a great video over at TheMarySue.com that condenses down seasons 1-3 of The Game of Thrones in a hilarious way. It’s from the Honest TV Trailer series by the Screen Junkies, and it’s a funny mash-up of clips around the main characters, nicknames for all those supporting characters, and yes, a montage of boobs (with nipples covered by black bars to make them more PG-13)—something the show has been criticized for showing lots of. But I’m not complaining.