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While usually I’m the kind of person that prefers to read the books before watching the movie (or, in this case, TV show), as the A Song of Ice and Fire books didn’t really grab me when I tried to pick up the first one, I made an exception this time. And…well…
Okay fine, I’ll say it—I’m hooked. (Yes, yes, you were all right, congratulations everyone. *sigh*)
I’ve been thinking for a little bit about why I’ve been enjoying the series so much, and the answer, for me at least, lies in the characters. Because damn, GRRM writes crazy interesting characters. Even the totally despicable ones are fascinating in their own right, which really appeals to me.
And so, because the characters are so very well written, I think there are some lessons that we, as writers, can learn from them. So let’s take a look at what makes these characters so interesting.
- Every character has motivations, dreams, etc. What’s great about this is I’m not even talking about just the main ensemble characters—even minor characters, “evil” characters, and characters with short life spans are fully fleshed out with plans, dreams, desires, fears and powerful motivations. Whether it’s Olenna Tyrell (Margaery’s grandmother), Walder Frey, Renly Baratheon, or someone else, every character is layered and ridiculously well-developed.
- No one is all good or all bad. Good characters make selfish decisions, and antagonistic characters have people they care about and base their decisions on (somewhat understandable) motivations. In fact, I’d say more characters fall somewhere in the gray area morality-wise than very good or very bad—which becomes especially interesting because you’re never quite sure how they’re going to behave.
- Characters make mistakes. Fatal ones, in fact, that end up getting themselves (or people they care about…or both) killed. This is huge because not only does it humanize the characters (after all, who doesn’t make mistakes?) but it also makes us doubly worried about them when we know their decisions could go awry very very quickly. Which leads me to…
- Every character is in danger. This is sort of a controversial point about GoT, but I actually love it. Oftentimes, people go into a book (or series, or movie) assuming that the main “good” characters are going to emerge unscathed (or, you know, at least survive). No such assumptions can be made about GoT, which I weirdly like because it means I worry about everyone. It’s realistic (in the sense that no one is magically safe) and something I really admire about the series.
Do you watch (or read) Game of Thrones? What lessons have you learned?
Watch or read Game of Thrones? @Ava_Jae shares character development lessons to be learned from this popular series. (Click to tweet)