Character Driven Writing

I often talk with my writing groups about my strong belief that books should be character driven. That rather than mapping out plots and forcing characters to tag the milestones, one should develop and listen to their characters. I feel an author should pay attention to what motivates the characters. They should allow the characters to go where they naturally will go and then build the plot around that.

To me, what is happening to Game of Thrones now is a clear demonstration of the difference between the two methods. The earlier seasons, guided by Martin, are often shining examples of how beautifully characters can grow, change, breathe, and live. In comparison, some of these recent episodes are just staggering in how characters are forced like marionettes to do bizarre things because They Must End Up In Spot ZZZ By Time Moment ALPHA.

Game Of Thrones

As an avid fan of medieval history, several of the Game Of Thrones scenes had me screaming at the TV in disbelief.


Who above the age of two would try to run “straight” when fleeing an arrow? That’s something you learn when you learn how to walk! The arrow was a key, well-known weapon that was seen by every person in a keep!

And as much as the show makers like to Soap-Opera-play up the emotion of scenes, Jon was an attentive battle-hardened strategist. He *knew* and had been explicitly *told* that his young brother would be used. And yet he risks every man he’s responsible for – plus the lives of the entire world, really – for an emotional tantrum?

Both were done for sheer “move the plot forward to point X” reasons – a cheap move which drives me absolutely insane.

Why didn’t the giant just bash a hole through the ‘wall of dead men’ to give them an escape path?

I have to wonder if George R. R. Martin would really have written it like this. Now that HBO is off the reservation (in terms of book content) I get the feeling they are trying their best but, for this scene, it’s just not up to the standards for me. Sure, the overall scene was “a glorious battle” but the way it ended up there made absolutely no sense to me. It was forced progression in order to get there.