With another season finale of Game of Thrones in the books (why-oh-why has this battle not happened? And a zombie-white-walker dragon? Ah!), we just know you’re still jonesing for any GoT fix that might come your way. The finale also occurred during the same month as the 21st book birthday of A Game of Thrones. Yep, it’s finally legal to sip on some of that mulled wine and ale. We got to thinking: What are some writing tips that an aspiring author can take from not only the show, character development, fantasy style, and the book’s legendary influence?

So we’ve outlined 10 great fiction writing tips for our readers, ranging from George R.R. Martin’s podcasts and website musings, to, of course, our own publishing- and book-loving expertise.


Start with short stories.

On his website, Martin says that, especially in today’s market, an aspiring writer would be wise to start with short stories. Many writers have grand ambitions of planning out a trilogy or multiple-book series—but short stories will help you ease into your writing, and identify your strengths and issues. Plus, you can also sell them for a few years to publications, effectively building your brand.

Understand that the people who make it long-term
[as a successful author] are the people who keep doing it, proving the need for the right temperament in the profession.

An author detailed her 2014 experience on ProlificLiving.com about dining with and interviewing Martin, and this was one of his biggest pieces of advice.

Write for the right reasons.

According to Martin, you need to “write because you have stories that you must tell and nobody­—nobody—can talk you out of telling them.” (ProlificLiving.com).

Learn to create your own worlds.

Don’t use “borrowed” backgrounds from your favorite authors. It’s important to create your own characters and settings, no matter how outlandish (at least in the beginning).

Embrace the praise and the criticism

Learn from it. Not everyone is going to like your work, but stay true to your artistic vision—especially when it comes to how it ends.

A writer can never do too much research.

On his website, Martin admits that he often uses the Internet as a research tool, but that books are still his go-to. Using the “total immersion” method, Martin tries to learn as much as possible about a subject in question (for example, the medieval world). Some of his favorite resources? The Osprey series of illustrated reference books (for anything military), The Medieval Soldier, The Dictionary of Heraldry . . . but that’s just the beginning. You can find the full list at www.georgerrmartin.com.

Start with a little as opposed to a lot

This sounds a bit in line with Martin’s suggestion to start with essays, but in this case he’s referring to fantasy and magic. Martin favors “sprinkling” the magic into his fantasies in small quantities at a time—sort of like adding salt to a dish.

Find a method to keep track of your fantasy world

If you have multiple worlds, characters, and POVs, then you might want to reference notes once you shift from one to the other. Martin says that he usually re-reads the last 2-5 chapters of a character’s POV before continuing the story in their voice once again.

Action + war requires some humorous breaks

It can be easy for a novel to quickly spiral to the dark side, or focus a little too much on the carnage and conflict. However, readers need some comedic relief—think Shakespeare with his tragedies. Have a character that provides this (a la Tyrion) or larger scenes peppered throughout the book.

Read, read . . . READ

Martin has said that the most important advice he can give to an aspiring writer is to READ! It shouldn’t only be what you like to write about, either. Expand your horizons and read everything: historical romance, biographies, magazines, erotica, satire, horror, adventure, non-fiction, science fiction, you name it. Learn as much as you can from other genres and authors—as well as a good AND bad books.


The sources used for this article include: www.georgerrmartin.com, prolificliving.com, the George R.R. Martin podcast series.