Thursday, February 5, 2015

[Ice & Fire] A Letter from the Past

As reported at the Tower of the Hand, Censoros, Reddit, and a host of other sites dedicated to George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire or geekery in general, a letter written by George in 1993 to his agent has surfaced on the Internet (photos of the letter tweeted by HarperCollins). Right, only a couple of days I lamented the lack of any interesting Ice & Fire-news, and now we get this. It is really nice to get some insight into how Martin originally envisioned his tale to develop. So much changed since his original conception. I know that this is how such things usually go - there's a huge difference between the early ideas and the final product, but we usually get nothing like this from George R.R. Martin, so no wonder this news sends ripples through the communal pond. 

What I found more interesting than the original early conceptual ideas, however, is Martin's words to his agent, Ralph Vivinanza, perhaps especially the following:

As you know, I don't outline my novels. I find that if I know exactly where a book is going, I lose all interest in writing it.

There it is. 
I suppose I don't need to say anything more than that. 
There it is.
The simple answer to the question, "Why does it take so long between novels?" 

Once he arrived at Feast, Martin was basically forced to outline and plan a little, in order to go ahead with his tale. This is confirmed. He needed to choose a structure, needed to pick the chapters and storylines he wanted to advance in Feast, and which to postpone to Dance, and make them all sync (more or less) - 
- and, having discussed the series' ending with the creators of HBO's Game of Thrones, even more of the future of the story has been set...thus, explaining the Long Waits. It cannot be stated any simpler than this: George R.R. Martin has lost (all) interest in writing it.

Now, since plans do change, and so much of his outline in this letter has already changed, I don't feel that anything here can be taken as major revealing spoilers - i.e,, the five surviving characters back then may not be who will survive the actual books, if finished. Perhaps the notion that Tyrion Lannister will eventually ally with the Starks will come to fruition? 

What is funny, in my opinion, is that these ideas, when presented like they are in this letter, don't really sound all that interesting in the sense that without Martin's prose and just a presentation of his ideas it all sounds much less awesome than the actual text in A Game of Thrones (and so on). I'm sure this Constanza-fellow scratched his head at some of Martin's explanations, WTF IS A KHAL DROGO?! know what I mean? 

Now, if anyone can figure out what's behind that next-to-last paragraph...

6 comments:

  1. Everyone is going nuts about this letter, myself among them. The whole thing is really interesting. Most of the stuff in it stays pretty much the same as in the books, or at least the big picture. A lot of things changed though, mostly the way some early version of the characters develop: Dany never plans on avenging Viserys, Sansa never fully betrays her family, etc. There is no doubt in my mind the original idea changed for the better.

    Jon and Arya though? Creepy. In the original Joffrey actually takes the field! That would have been interesting, and he actually gets Sansa pregnant? I'm guessing everyone is older in that version. I always though that 2 more years of age for every character would have been best, specially for the youngest ones since things are really getting creepy with Arya and Sansa, and Bran loving Meera makes more sense if he starts entering puberty by the fifth book.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's funny, people saying that 'Feast' or 'Dance' "falling flat"...um compared to what? the saga isn't over yet. At this stage, we do not know what is important, and what is not in the overall scheme of things.

    It's almost like picking up a single novel / book, and saying that 'it fell flat' when you're in the middle of reading it, not finished yet.

    We should all reserve opinions etc of a series, once the series is finished.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jeff, I suppose there are two viewpoints here, you've got one, and I've got the other - I agree that certain aspects of Feast and Dance will resonate once the story is over, but while I thoroughly enjoyed books 1-3 despite them being part of an unfinished tale, and full of foreshadowing for things to come, yet, I had a hard time with Feast, and especially Dance. Ideally, these two books would be as fun to read as the first three, while still being the bridge to the latter half of the story. But we'll see once I get cracking on them again :-P Maybe I'll change my mind. I'm going in with a hopefully open mind, wanting to get the best out of it after a decade of being negative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can understand that. I enjoyed both books, a lot. The problem with Feast and Dance is and has always been that the plot lines never go anywhere. The books never reward the readers for reaching all the way to the end. We never see the battle of Winterfell or Meereen, see Davos actually accomplish anything, see what's up with Sam, there is hardly any catharsis for all those little journeys we followed except for maybe Cersei, Quentyn and maybe Jon. It is really f*cking sad, we got robbed of an amazing second act just because it was getting too long and it got chopped at the end. You and everyone else has a pretty big reason to be disappointed with both books, and you know what the worst part is? Everyone will love "Winds" as the best book of the six because it will get to finish those stories, it will get away with best outcome of all those plot lines, it will stand on the top of a building that Feast and Dance worked so hard to build, only to step away for a while and come back only to see it get all the credit :(

      Delete
  4. Lets also not forget that this outline proves Ray correct that GRRM had an outline. He just wrote himself out of it, and doesn't know where to go. The meerenese knot is obviously still a problem otherwise it would have been taken care of in the last book instead of kicking it down the road another three-quarters of a decade.

    For those wondering who I am referring to just click on the link below.

    http://grrrm.livejournal.com/14862.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah the memories. I loved those guys for their wacky sense of humor and for pointing out matters of import re: GRRM. That post right there is pretty brilliant, too, I admit I just skimmed it now but remember reading it.

      Delete