1. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    George R. R. Martin and Outlines

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by drifter265, Mar 14, 2013.

    Just thought this was interesting:

    http://www.empireonline.com/interviews/interview.asp?IID=1496

     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is basically me. I have no idea how the story will end and only one or two characters when I start writing. If I'm going to spend any time on an outline, I might just as well spend it on the story itself. And yes, having used one outline, I did find the actual writing boring, because I knew what was coming.
     
  3. niallohagan
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    niallohagan Member

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    A series as complex as his, I find it hard to believe that he has no outlines whatsoever
     
  4. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    Thats why he is considered a master of juggling multiple characters, though personally i think his series does have its ups and downs far from perfect but still excellent series all in all.
     
  5. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    Having no outline might also explain why he spends years between each book
     
  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not necessarily, although who knows? But I know writers who spend months working on the outlines - months that I would spend working on the book. Time really has nothing to do with method, any more than it does with quality. It only has to do with how fast the writer works.
     
  7. niallohagan
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    niallohagan Member

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    I agree, an excellent series, I just fail to see, or fail to comprehend perhaps, how he can do it without outlining
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why would he need an outline? I've written stories, including a pretty complicated novel, with no outline. When you live a breathe a work of fiction for a long time, you pretty much end up with a Ph.D in it. And a ninth-degree black belt in it. Etc. Readers just read it and marvel, but the writer has sweated blood over it for years.

    Also, what looks like intricate design may just be the writer blindly feeling his way to an ending, followed by revision. The audience sees the arrow stuck right in the middle of the bullseye and is very impressed with the marksmanship involved, but the archer just shot the arrow almost randomly and painted the bullseye around it wherever it landed.

    Shooting the arrow is the first draft, carefully painting the bullseye is the revision.
     
  9. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    It could be argued that writing with (many) revisions is not too far off outlining anyway, just that the outline is in the form of prose rather than bullet points... ;)
     
  10. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    And there are also writers who paint the bulls-eye as the arrow is drawn - ie, not using an outline doesn't mean numerous revisions, either.

    There are just sooooo many ways to write a book - you try things out until you find what works and stick to it. Until the next book...
     
  11. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    This topic reminded me of an interview i saw last year, even though his the master he still asks for some help from people who keep closer notes than him and remember more details.

    Interview on youtube:
     
  12. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I outline and discovery write about equally.
     
  13. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always need a rough outline before I can start writing. I never stick to it, but it needs to be there. Otherwise I end up worrying too much about where my characters are going and not where they actually are.
     
  14. divided_crown
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    divided_crown Member

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    I really sympathize with him, because I am the same way. I am very much a world-builder more than I am a story-teller (i.e. all my settings must be fictional or I am easily bored) and I usually know major twists and turns beforehand. I do, in a way, have an outline in my head.

    From time to time I tell myself I need to preload my story, make an extremely detailed outlined. Then I get started on it. Then I abort the experiment because it's just soul-crushingly hard for me to outline things. My imagination just stops dead. I can't build a world without knowing the exact concrete situation I am building it for, so it becomes really hard to piece together the plot from afar.

    I have just recently realized that this whole thing is truly up to the individual, and knowing that GRRM does not outline is a huge encouragement to me. Thanks for posting this.
     
  15. niallohagan
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    niallohagan Member

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    you could well be right - obviously you are about yourself. Ive read those books and the intricacy of the storylines amazes me. It gets more and more complicated each book. A bit like the Wheel of Time series
     
  16. muscle979
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    muscle979 Member

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    Steven King doesn't outline either. When he started the Dark Tower series all he really know was that he wanted a Clint Eastwood type gunslinger questing in a huge high fantasy world.

    There are so many minor characters in George Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series I found myself wondering the other day while reading whether the names of all of the houses and characters in the stories just came to him or if he used a name generator of some sort.
     
  17. Shannonpeel
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    Shannonpeel Member

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    He's not saying he doesn't outline - he doesn't use a detailed outline. He knows the beginning, the climax and the end. He knows where he wants the main characters to be by the end but not how they get there. He knows the big things but not the little details until he's written them.

    The how they get there is the fun part, the story developing for him. His books aren't tight one plot stories, they are multi-plot, multi-character, and multi-POV. The story can go any number of ways to get to the planned ending and he can use whatever character he needs to push the story along. Anything can happen between the middle and the end, as long as his characters stay true to form and he knows where he wants to end up.

    He can write without a detailed outline because he knows his characters, who they are and how they'd react in different situations. He just keeps throwing them into different situations and exploring how they'll react to the situation and each other.
     
  18. Shannonpeel
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    Shannonpeel Member

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    I agree with you. Some people are very logical thinkers and use logical outlines to write. First A, then B, then C. Some people are very illogical thinkers and use idea clouds to figure out how things will link together. Some people are just wing it kind of folks and they aren't organized at all.

    I don't think there is any one way to do anything, we are all different and have to do things our own way. In the end though it has to be complete, organized, and well written. Whether one does that with lots of re-reading, editing or rewrites or only a few will depend on the thought process of the person.

    I think it really depends on the book too. If you are writing a non fiction how to book, it has to be logically planned out or else you may miss something. If your writing a based on true story or biography you're going to have a lot of little details that have to be worked into the story and will need to have a plan to fit them in. When you are writing fiction in a fantasy world such as George RR Martin, anything goes and you create the details as you need them, when you need them.
     
  19. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or they wing it and are very organized, such as making sure that what they write follows logically on what they've already written. ;)
     
  20. Bagabon
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    Bagabon Banned

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    What he described is an outline, he just doesn't write it down. And it is very vague, which is how many writers do their outlines, or at least how I do outlines. If it's vague then there is more room for change and discovery, which helps the actual writing process from becoming a bore. Besides, all writers are going to write a different way, that's just human nature.
     

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