Monday, February 6, 2012

George R.R. Martin Cares

Everybody's reading that Song of Ice and Fire (or watching Game of Thrones, the HBO show based on it). A few of my male friends here keep talking about it, and I think Matt R. (link) even did a post about it last week on the Q3E.

I'll just go ahead and put it out there: I'll probably never read this book. It's not my genre, and it's 4,000 pages long. Yes.

But in the Dec. issue of Entertainment Weekly, they named their "Entertainers of the Year," and George R.R. Martin (the author) was one of them. (link)

Amy Poehler wrote a little blurb about him and why she likes him so much, which brings me to this post.

She said, "He cares about what happens to his characters as much as we do."

I'm always interested in what readers like about their favorite books, because I want to see if there's some way I can *do that* as I write.

Anyway, so caring about your characters. That's a given, right?

Well, I got to thinking about this, and I confess, I haven't always done it. I'm thinking of one of my villains in particular. He's a bad dude, and I didn't want to get to know him. I didn't want to be in his head as I wrote.

But that's the thing. You have to care about every one of your characters--even the bad ones, even the minor ones, even the ones who just get you from here to there.

What motivates them? What are they hoping to get out of life? Why are they in the way of the main character or helping him or her get to wherever s/he's going?

I'm not saying every book needs to be 4,000 pages long, because... well, see above reason. But it should at least show that every character is a known entity and someone we care enough about to understand.

What do you guys think? Am I the only one digging this?

In other News: Our buddy DL Hammons (link) is hosting the Semi-Finals Round of WRiTE CLUB this week. (Two different entries face off every day.)

One of the competing entries this week will be mine, but I won't tell you which--or which day b/c I don't know. But if you would, try to run over every day and vote/leave a comment. All the contenders will appreciate it.

Thanks!

And have a great week, reader- and writer-friends! <3



41 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I'm not really sure I would even think about attempting a book that long. I immediately think pages and pages of explanation. And with so many adult books I hear that it takes the first 100 pages to get into it! Yeah, probably not reading it.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I love fantasy and would love to read his books (did read the first one). But they're too long and I have too many books I want to read. So I'll just watch the TV series that I love.

I do agree that all the characters, even the bad guys, should have an interesting backstory for why they do what they do. Cheryl Klein, an editor at Scholastic, really got me thinking about that during a critique I had with her.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

My husband is waiting to get the DVD. He doesn't have time to read the book. I'll probably watch it then. A book that long means I would miss out on a lot of great YA books. No thanks!

I'm off to vote!

vic caswell (aspiring-x) said...

oh YES!
*rusty brain-gears start turning*

Lydia Kang said...

You're one of the write-club writers???? Aw, can't you tell little old me? No? Ok. :P

Matthew later emailed me and was like, "don't read it this year--it takes a year to read it and you're too busy!" LOL

Samantha VĂ©rant said...

4,000 pages? Pages? Are you kidding me? Gah. The thought makes my fingers and brain ache. Instead, I'm going to head off to DL's site...

Old Kitty said...

I like my villains to be villains -can I say that? I care if villains are villains - like the Sheriff of Nottingham as played by Alan Rickman- he was hilarious and very colourful and I prefered him to the banal leads! LOL! But he was a bad man!

I must really read this book!

GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR WRITE OFF ENTRY!!

Take care
x

Matthew MacNish said...

I don't know that I'd agree with Ms. Poehler. I mean Martin writes some of the most vicious, realistic characters I've ever read. But with the frequency at which he kills your favorite ones off, I'm not sure he really cares about what happens to them.

Jessica Bell said...

Don't really have any inclination to read this, but I do agree that all characters have to be cared for. I think that's what gives fiction that extra bite. When you want the bad guy to end up ok too.

Jolene Perry said...

I'm SO with you.

I finished a book not long ago, and it was falling flat. It took me a while to realize that I hadn't let myself really get to know my "bad guy" because it was intimidating - BUT it's crucial if we want our story to ring true.

amo said...

Hmm. I think it depends what kind of story you write. Really, what you're talking about is "flat" vs. "rounded" characters, isn't it? You can't write a rounded character if you don't care about them. But sometimes, flat characters are just fine for what they are, they have their uses. Don't they?

Jennifer Shirk said...

4,000 pages scares me...

But I agree. For me, it's all about the characters. I don't mind unoriginal plots as long I love the characters and want to be with them. :)

Clarissa Draper said...

Congrats on being one of the finalist. Obviously you care about your characters and have caused us to care for them too. Great post.

DEZMOND said...

your characters are your children, how can you not care about them? :)

Tracy Jo said...

4000. Ouch. :-) I am completely grooving with you. I love reading something like that and having a light bulb go off...realizing you can go deeper. I have lots of those moments from my bloggie friends out here. Ah-ha moments! Off to visit Mr. DL...good luck friend!

LTM said...

@Laura--I can't read this til I read the Baroque Cycle. JRM's been bugging me w/those for years... :D <3

Colene Murphy said...

Yeah, I probably wont read it either, though I've heard nothing but good things! Going to start watching the series (I know dude, I'm so behind!) probably next weekend or something.

It IS awesome that he cares about every character! Very cool stuff.

M Pax said...

I liked Game of Thrones a lot. I haven't read the rest of the series yet. I don't normally read much fantasy either, but he does make you care about the characters. A lot.

I do try to care about all of my characters. Maybe not the walk-ons so much, but the others. It's tough if I plan on killing them. But I suppose we need that connection to make the reader care.

Lynda R Young said...

I read Martin's books back in the 90s and it's unlikely I'll read his new ones because yes, they are long and a huge investment of time when there are so many other books I want to read. I'm not sure he 'cares' about his characters, although he certainly makes them real enough. I do think he likes being mean to his characters though ;)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If you don't care a little you'll never take the time to get to know them. Even if they aren't likeable, we have to know them.
Don't worry, I've not read any of Martin's books either.
Hope the folders in Google Reader help!

Mark Murata said...

Leigh, you violated the first two rules of Write Club by talking about Write Club!

BTW, since I'm no longer in the competition, thanks for voting for my entry in round 6 at
http://dlcruisingaltitude.blogspot.com/2011/12/write-club-round-6.html

where my entry was under the pseudonym of NextMark.

Talli Roland said...

I've ever read anything by him, although I've seen the books all over the place. It's just not my thing... and yikes, long book alert!

I do care about my characters, though.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Kidlit has spoiled me for adult fiction, not to mention epic fantasy like that! But I do like the idea of loving all your characters. I do, and probably love the baddies more than I should. :)

Carolyn Abiad said...

I've read four out of the five. (lots-o-pages!) Still waiting for the misery to end for the characters. Zero hope. So, like Matt, I'm not sure caring about the characters is how he goes about writing this series.

BUT I do second your opinion that we should care about each character, or at least try to understand where they might be coming from...

Lisa Gail Green said...

I totally agree! You have to understand your characters inside and out. But just because you care doesn't mean you shouldn't do what's bad for them. That's what makes a good book! :D

Chris Fries said...

Hi! I popped over from Don's... er, "DL's" blog.

First off, wanted to say "Hey!" to a fellow Hoosier!

Next, I most definitely have this series of books on my "to Read" list -- I've heard many good things, and it's on many lists of the best in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Luckily, the "Song of Fire and Ice" series is broken up into several individual books, so it's not really 4k pages all in one go. "A Game of Thrones", the first book in the series, is listed at 694 pages. Still a big chunk of prose to digest in one sitting. But I do admit that the length is one of the main reasons it hasn't come off my "To Read" list yet. That and I tend to lean more towards the harder Sci-Fi and Mystery genres.

Also: Yeah you HAVE to care about your characters, even the antagonists, and the minor side characters, too -- even when they come to sudden ends. I always loved John Irving's characters, and he had a propensity for killing them off, too, LOL!

Finally: Good Luck in DL's Write Club contest! So far, the four entries in this round have been very good. I hope I pick yours, and if I don't, it just means that I clearly don't know diddly about good writing... ;)

Robyn Campbell said...

Egad!!!!!!!!!That is a lot of reading. I have lots of picture books and MG to read. Not to mention beta reading for writers. But if I had loads of time I would try to read it. But I want to read books where I know the writer loves her characters. That's just a given with me. What a great post. I shall vote. :-)

Joshua said...

I definitely care about my characters, but I don't mind killing them.

Is that bad?

DL Hammons said...

Hey...you made it to the semi's?! Awesome!! I tried to bribe my wife into telling me who was who, but it didn't work. Good luck!!

I think I've taken good care of my characters...good and bad...but the test is in the telling! :)

LTM said...

@LG--Right! It's Shakespearean. Even the bad guys need a motive to be well-rounded. :o) <3

@Chris--Hey! Welcome, and yay! I'm a transplant, but yay Indy! :o) Very cool about setting out to conquer the Martin. You're in good company. I agree that if you take the time to get to know even the walk-ons, it shows. And thanks for the good wishes. I haven't come up yet in WC, so we'll see~ :o) <3

Creepy Query Girl said...

I most certainly agree. Any kind of 'filler' characters tend to make a novel weaker imo.

Michelle Merrill said...

Agreed. You should definitely care about every character. If they're in your book, there must be a reason. It's important for the reader to connect with each character too so they can care about the book as much as the author...which is what we want :)

And I'm not sure I'd pick up a 4,000 page book. Ever. Sadly, I like quick reads.

Thanks for sharing!

N. R. Williams said...

As painful as it may be, we do need to get inside each character and discover what makes them who they are. Great post.
Nancy

Janet Johnson said...

4,000 pages long??? Wow. And I thought my first one was long. That's just insane.

And yay for you being in the semi-finals! Can't wait to see it. . . . even if I don't know which one it is.

Wendy said...

A friend of mine has been after me to read these books. I finally got the first one and wow, what an epic tale.

I had to laugh, though, about you talking about him "caring" about his characters because the first thing I said to my friend when I started reading was "Gosh, it's all raping and pillaging and incest and murder..." and she said, "Oh, and it gets worse."

So, I think "caring" might not be the word I would have chosen! :)

LynNerdKelley said...

4,000 pages! Wow, quite a challenge to find the time to read something that long. I agree that caring about our characters is very important. What a great point to make about caring about the minor characters, too. It's great advice and will help us to bring them alive on our pages, too. Thanks!

Margo Kelly said...

4000 pages? whew. That's like ten books in one.

Great post. Yes, we should care deeply about all of our characters.

LisaAnn said...

What a great reminder! It's always difficult for me to remember to round out my bad guys, but you're right. They need love, too!

LTM said...

@LNK--I know, right? Thanks, and I guess it's starting to sound like Ms. Poehler misled us about the caring thing. Or she was being funny...? It's hard to know. :D <3

@Margo--I think it actually is ten books. :D But regardless. You're right. Point made~ <3

Theresa Milstein said...

I won't read that book either. Same with that whole Lord of the Rings thing. People tell me I have to but those are not my kind of books.

Yes, we do have to dig into bad guys. JK Rowling made us have to because Harry got into Voldemort's head. And Dumbledore analyzed Voldemort with Harry.

I use Harry Potter for all comparisons.

Jemi Fraser said...

That's the main reason I haven't picked up that series. I don't have time for a series that long any more.

It is hard to care about those villains, but I think you're right - unless we do, they're just not real.