Monday, 2 May 2016

10 Lessons about Writing Character From Game of Thrones

1.   Characters need to have both good and bad traits - e.g. most of the main characters, but especially Tyrion.

2.   We enjoy watching characters who do things - so Ramsay Bolton (happy torturer) is more interesting than his father Roose (whose torturing takes place off screen).

3.   We like anticipating what a character might do next - so while Cersei is depressed at the moment, you just know that she's going to wreak revenge at some point.

4.   Characters without much personality are disposable - slaves, soldiers and Myrcella.

5.  We can identify with the non-heroic much more easily than the heroic - e.g. Samwell, Sansa.

6.  Loyalty is one of the most attractive traits a character can have - look at Brienne of Tarth.

7.  We don't like characters who set themselves up as better than others and are then mean to them (especially when saying it's for their own good), e.g. the Sparrows, the Waif.

8.  We enjoy seeing characters grow and come into their own - Arya and Tyrion are good examples.

9.  Characters need to be consistent - Melisandre has ups and downs, but she is always true to her beliefs.

10.  Secondary characters can get away with being one-dimensional, like Hodor and Joffrey.

And an extra one:

11.  If people are really committed to your characters, they'll be waiting for them to come back from the dead, even when they've seen the body...


Penny A said...

How I've avoided seeing Game of Thrones, I don't know! Have only glanced at the book, too, but even so all this makes a lot of sense.

Sarah Duncan said...

Oooh, I love Game of Thrones. Really interesting for story tellers IMO.

Philip C James said...

I don't have access to the channel it's broadcast on and I'm resisting the temptation to buy the first 'season' as a box set (shouldn't there be four 'seasons' of US drama per year, or our American cousins could just stick to the British 'series' nomenclature?). There's so much good drama on BBC classic tv (the sort broadcast by the transmitter and valves at Alexandra Palace), I think I'd drown in a surfeit of tv drama if I subscribed to netflix and amazon and sky and so on...

In terms of gripping, psychologically intense, dramatic writing, I think HAPPY VALLEY is my personal epitome at present. There are no dragons, the contrived situations (all fiction is of course 'contrived') are not overblown but are all the more gripping to my mind because the events are so prosaic.

Philip C James said...

But having said all that (to explain I haven't actually met the characters you mention), the bullet points ring true in terms of dramatic writing.

After all, who can name four of the red-shirted security guards who accompany Captain Kirk in the landing party that leaves the Enterprise for the surface of an alien world each episode. Who can name even one?

Georgina Troy said...

I'm a huge Game of Thrones fan and attempting to be a writer - great post!