Thoughts on The Winds of Winter

winds-of-winterAre there spoilers at this point? No! Read away!

On New Year’s Day, George R.R. Martin dropped this literary bomb on his readers (here).  Boom! And you can still feel the aftereffects of the explosion reverberating over the comments and fansites even today.

Yes, the next novel in his A Song of Ice and Fire series will not be out before the next season of Game of Thrones. Which means the show will pass the book, spoiling what George had planned to do in the rest of the series.  Jon Snow, your death secret is about to come out!

Let me get this out of the way… I never saw the book series as perfect. I know, I know, heresy! Blasphemy! String this guy up and call in the silent sisters to take away the corpse! But the fact is that while I found the first two books very solid, things started to come apart for me during the third book and then came the mess that was the fourth book (let’s not talk about it… okay, we probably will in a bit). The fifth book tried to recover the problems, and it was fun to read the first time, but when you finish the giant tome, you realize how little went on for so, so, so many pages.

Okay, I got that out of the way.

Now, I’ve read all the books, including his giant history about the world of Westeros. AND I’ve given people copies of the books and DVDs of the show for presents. Heck, just this Christmas I gave my dad an Iron Throne Christmas ornament. (Thank you Target for finding such a unique way to celebrate the holidays!) So it’s a love-hate relationship. I truly respect the creativity behind the series, and his surprises get me each time, but I also question a lot of the storytelling decisions he takes, especially as he continues to expand his world beyond the lands actually threatened by the terrors behind the Wall. Continue reading

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Please, Make It Stop: A Rant About Game of Thrones

DragonAvast there, me hearties! Here thar be spoilers aplenty! (Wait! It’s not Talk Like a Pirate day? What was I thinking?)

Let’s get this out of the way first. We’ve all been holding off saying this for a while, but it’s time.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot better after saying it.

I’ve recently found an interview with George R.R. Martin where he argues his book series is not a soap opera, maybe it was his way of preparing an argument before it came at him from outside his circle, but it is. Both the TV series and his book series… two words… soap opera.

Look, I hate to say it as much as the next person. The idea of someone truly doing something new in a very established (and usually predictable genre) is an awesome idea. He combined the history of the middle ages and fantasy… but the result is a freaking soap opera. With history almost being used as an excuse (or as a resource) for twists that help the soap opera continue.

Consider:

  • Soap operas and A Song of Ice and Fire both has multiple POVs of good and questionable individuals.
  • Both end every moment in a cliffhanger (You can almost hear the “stay tuned” at the end of some of the chapters in the books).
  • Both have meandering plots (I feel like I should be capitalizing meandering; no seriously, all caps).
  • Time seems to have its own rules. And both have marriages that seem to last for the same amount of time (and just like in soap operas most are bad matches).
  • And both are not working towards a clean resolution. There is no Mount Doom in sight from what I can see.

Oh, and all of these points is before I even bring up the fact that George R.R. Martin used to work in television and was a writer on a popular fantasy-lite soap opera in the 1980s.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera with people in funny costumes and dragons and we have bought into it.

Heck, I didn’t just buy in, I bought the DVDs, the books, the shirts and even gave them as Birthday presents to people I love. (I was like: “Hi, I love cocaine, I want you to take it too. Here- Happy Birthday!”) Continue reading

Gender-Swapping: Some Writing Tricks for Taking on the Other Sex

GendersDuring my blog tour for Permanent Spring Showers (my last novel) I had an interesting question from a reader. It really inspired this post.

Here is the quote:

I always am amazed when a man writes from a woman’s perspective or a woman writes from a man’s perspective so convincingly. I was wondering how the author found writing from the opposite sex’s POV.

I don’t want to claim I’m an expert on this. That would be naive, because truly no one knows what it is like to walk in another’s shoes (or high heels), but I’ve experience doing this in my books and I have some tricks that work for me.

In my new book, I have a few female main characters (including one that has diary entries); and there is my book Megan which is entirely one afternoon in one woman’s life. So if you are thinking of writing a work where the “other” gender is the main POV, well, maybe my advice can help.

Oh yeah, and I’m the dude who wrote an entire book with Jane Austen as the main character… Again, not saying I know everything, but… come on! Jane Austen! That gives me some cred, right? I mean… freaking Jane Austen!?! Continue reading

Re-post- To Watch or Not to Watch: The Conundrum of Season 3 of Game of Thrones

I don’t want to say “I told you so” to fellow Game of Thrones fans who didn’t read the books… But… “I told you so.” Everyone right now is talking about the Red Wedding and how brutal and cruel it was. In this post, I talk about how the event impacted my reading of the series. Honesty, I feel like it created problems with the series that have yet to be fixed.

The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

Game of Thrones_Season ThreeMassive spoilers are ahead the size of the dragon Drogon for those who have not read the series by George R.R. Martin or watched the HBO series. You’ve been warned.

I am fan of the shadow of Game of Thrones.

What that means is I love the show and books in spirit, but in actual execution it is all a little bit more… well… shadowy. Imagine me as Peter Pan racing up the wall trying to get me hands on my shadow but it is just out of my reach and very dark. But I have to have it! It might complete me!

Now before you judge me, I’ve paid my Westeros dues (in Gold Dragons, of course). I’ve read all the books, I’ve seen the first two seasons of the show. Heck, I even own the first two seasons of the show on Blu-Ray (ordering both before they were actually…

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Writers, why does everything need to be a series?

This is your new book, be gentle with it...Like a seed, a book idea begins small. So very small. Maybe it is a flash of an image, or maybe it is a question that needs to be answered. Whatever the case, it grows and grows until finally a novel emerges fully grown.

Yes, I consider writing and creating a very organic experience. And when I am done with a book, I’m happy to have one “tree.”

So I can’t help wondering why do so many writers today want to grow a forest?

 

Book One: By chance or fate the heroes meet

It was last year that I began really reaching out to other writers on Twitter. The thing that surprised me the most (besides the sheer number of all of us), is how many are focused on writing a series.

Paranormal, scifi, fantasy, mystery, thriller, horror, romance (the innocent to the definitely NOT innocent at all), historical fiction, adventure, etc., some are even a combination of genres; but whatever the case they are never a solo book. Traditionally published, indie published, to self-published, everyone seems to be on the series train.

Choo Choo! Continue reading

Talking About Some Deaths in Literature

Death is kind of on my mind a lot recently. My grandfather (who I wrote about here), died on February 9 and the loss of him and how it has impacted my every day thoughts had really made me think about death in relation to a lot of things around me. In my author-esq head, it’s not surprising that literature found its way into the mental ramblings (or should we just be honest and call them distractions from reality?).

It seems many times we don’t take “dead” very seriously in literature. Unless it is gruesome (Hi, George R.R. Martin!), or the other characters are seriously changed because of it for the worse (Seriously, why did Little Nell have to snuff it?), many times it seems to float past us as a plot device. Is it because we have a long history of people returning to life in books so it doesn’t feel as final? (Aslan, Gandalf, every comic book character, and most religious stories, etc.) The corpse is rarely there in a story, unless it has just happened; that could be part of it as well.

Death in writing is a plot device. It is a tool both sharp as a knife and as a blunt as a sledgehammer.  We cheer when bad guys die. We look at a death sacrifice as heroic, not thinking of the final end that just happened to a character.

Is it simply because we don’t see characters as “human?” So maybe it is more a fault of us writers that a readers feels, or doesn’t feel, the loss. There might be something to it. I wrote a book, MEGAN, that is built around a death and I tried to show a character from being told of the death of another with all the initial stages of acceptance over the course of a day. Hmmm… Probably why the work isn’t as popular on amazon.com than my time-traveling adventure, My Problem With Doors. So clearly, death is not a selling point.

There is a lesson there  I learned that you will not need to now. You can thank me later.

Sometimes a death can slip right by, almost as an afterthought. My favorite example of this is the first Harry Potter book. One thing I love to point out to people is that Harry Potter begins with a double homicide. Yes, we see the scene later in the series (We get a little description in the first book, just a taste). And while JK Rowling does her best to take a light approach to that first chapter (Vernon in all his heavy-set foolishness), it doesn’t change the fact the story really started the evening before when Voldemort went into the home of the Potters and slaughtered them gleefully. Continue reading

My Love/Hate Relationship With Game of Thrones

THIS BLOG IS FILLED WITH SPOILERS IF YOU HAVE NOT READ A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.

I am intrigued by Westeros but I wouldn’t want to live there.

Oh, I would buy real estate in Middle Earth in a heartbeat, even during the rise of Sauron, but you could not pay me to step one foot in Westeros. Continue reading