“Of course, the writer can impose control; It's just a really shitty idea. Writing controlled fiction is called "plotting." Buckling your seatbelt and letting the story take over, however... that is called "storytelling." Storytelling is as natural as breathing; plotting is the literary version of artificial respiration.”
“When all else fails, complicate matters.”
“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations. Plot is observed after the fact rather than before. It cannot precede action. It is the chart that remains when an action
is through. That is all Plot ever should be. It is human desire let run, running, and reaching a goal. It cannot be mechanical. It can only be dynamic. So, stand aside, forget targets, let the characters, your fingers, body, blood, and heart do.”
I find George R.R. Martin’s statement extraordinarily interesting. It makes the overall point that just when you think you have reduced something like fiction writing to a set of rules and principles, someone comes along and violates then with success.
I guess they call that creativity. All I can say is: “Thank God for it.”
So how do you judge a work of fiction if it breaks most—or at least many-- of the traditional rules? You ask the question: Does it work? By that you really mean: Is it entertaining? Does it grip me, stimulate me, amuse me, interest me, and make me want to read on?
What makes George R.R. Martin’s work so entertaining?
- Fascinating over the top characters of such duality and complexity that you never quite know whether to love or hate them.
- His willingness to kill any of them so it’s effectively impossible to quite know who to root for.
- A series of subplots which distract from the main storyline—but which are fascinating in themselves.
- The compelling unpredictability of events.
- The detail he puts into his writing.
- The writing itself.
By conventional standards, Martin should be focused on answering the main question he posits? Who is going to end up on top? Instead he advances that particular aspect of his storyline at the speed of a sloth, and seizes just about every excuse to deviate.
But he deviates so compellingly.
Most of the editors I have known—my friends at Grove excepted—would have hated him.
They would have been wrong.
It is in the nature of being creative, in every walk of life, that a great many people—the experts, the editors, the people “who who really know the business,” the publishers, the High Priests of the status quo—will try and crush you.
And yet we endure—which doesn’t mean you won’t be hurt. If you opt for a creative life, pain and struggle are pretty much guaranteed. But, if your inner voice tells you that you are right—you are indestructible.
Console yourself with that fundamental truth—while you scream!