Thursday, 5 May 2016

10 Lessons about Story Telling from Game of Thrones

1.  Keep characters in the forefront of people's minds by mentioning them, even if nothing particularly interesting is happening to them, e.g. Arya in Braavos.

2.  We like guessing where the story is going next, and we really like getting it wrong e.g. Eddard Stark's death.

3.  We will accept big, gaping holes in the plot when we are engaged with the story, e.g. Theon and Sansa surviving unscathed jumping from a high window, the direwolves coming and going.

4.  We will also accept any number of loose ends - Bran's story line, for example - so long as we believe the story teller is in control.

5.  We like audacity in story telling - like the Red Wedding.

6.  Detailed world building is good, so long as the focus is always on the story line developing - Daenerys's problems in Meereen came close to being boring.

7.  Sex, love, violence, the desire for power are all major driving forces so use them. Think big, not small.

8.  The story flows when the names of people and places are easy to pronounce, often because they're similar to 'real' names - Eddard, Catelyn, Joffrey, Theon, Braavos, Westeros.  Daenerys Targaryen is one of the few exceptions.

9.  Family relationships are always a good basis for story telling providing ample scope for conflict, drama, jealousy, loyalty, love, hate.

10.  Even when telling a sprawling story following multiple characters across many lands, keep the same central story line running through:  Who is going to end up on the throne?


Philip C James said...

Wasn't Raymond Chandler once asked who killed the chauffeur in THE BIG SLEEP?

Didn't he reply he had no idea :)

It's still a classic of its genre.

Sarah Duncan said...

Oh, there are so many examples of great story telling where you could drive holes through the plot.