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BastardlyRock

GRRM is a bad writer?

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I've seen several posters make the comment recently that GRRM is a bad writer. Comments often come in the form of "I love the story, but the man is not a good writer." Can someone shed some light on this for me? I'm an English major, so it's not like I haven't read other literature. I'm familiar with the classics as well as some modern day authors generally held in high regard, and yet I can't get behind the idea that GRRM created this wonderful story and these beautiful characters yet himself is a poor author. Some of his prose is genuinely beautiful and I could read a few passages over and over till the day I die. Are there many of you out there who feel he's not a good writer, or is it the minority?


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I absolutely understand those who say he's a bad writer because of the pacing of the latest two books, but I simply haven't read enough to comment on the quality of his prose.

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I've seen several posters make the comment recently that GRRM is a bad writer. Comments often come in the form of "I love the story, but the man is not a good writer." Can someone shed some light on this for me? I'm an English major, so it's not like I haven't read other literature. I'm familiar with the classics as well as some modern day authors generally held in high regard, and yet I can't get behind the idea that GRRM created this wonderful story and these beautiful characters yet himself is a poor author. Some of his prose is genuinely beautiful and I could read a few passages over and over till the day I die. Are there many of you out there who feel he's not a good writer, or is it the minority?

I'm a writer and have read literally everything of note, I'm classically educated, conspicuously bad prose hurts me to read - and if we're just talking prose quality and dialogue, imo, Martin's good enough. I've never been taken out of one of his ASOIAF books by the prose being bad, and the only really bad misuse of a word I've ever noticed is his insistence on using "wroth" (an adjective) to mean "wrath" (a noun), which may well just be a deliberate archaism rather than an error.

So - he'll do, as a pure writer of prose.

That said, even if he were a poor writer, it wouldn't be fatal or undermine anything, necessarily. Many great genre writers are either terrible or barely passable stylists. Philip K Dick is a great writer - couldn't write a lick. Horrible, horrible prose. Lovecraft? Terrible prose, and the worst dialogue skills of any major writer in history. Stephen King? Not so good.

Not all these guys can be Ray Bradbury or Alfred Bester, where you get the plus imagination and the plus style. But Martin is better than most. You don't need to feel ashamed for liking him.

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The consensus does seem to be that he's quite bad at writing sex scenes....



I definitely think he's a "good writer" by any possible metric. His prose is vivid, detailed, and memorable, and his characters are very round. Like many very successful authors, he seems to have thrown economy out the window, but I can forgive him for that. Even when Brienne is literally walking around in circles it's still interesting to read.



I don't know what these hypothetical people are complaining about, maybe it's just a matter of taste for some people.


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I mean, he's not William Faulkner or F. Scott Fitzgerald, but he is much better than the vast majority of popular novelists, so I don't know where that puts him, above average but not hitting the 'great literature' level I guess.


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I think it is possible to be great at coming up with great ideas, worlds, characters, etc, but not be as good at writing about them. I think GRRM is great at both, personally.

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I'm a writer and have read literally everything of note, I'm classically educated, conspicuously bad prose hurts me to read - and if we're just talking prose quality and dialogue, imo, Martin's good enough. I've never been taken out of one of his ASOIAF books by the prose being bad, and the only really bad misuse of a word I've ever noticed is his insistence on using "wroth" (an adjective) to mean "wrath" (a noun), which may well just be a deliberate archaism rather than an error.



So - he'll do, as a pure writer of prose.



That said, even if he were a poor writer, it wouldn't be fatal or undermine anything, necessarily. Many great genre writers are either terrible or barely passable stylists. Philip K Dick is a great writer - couldn't write a lick. Horrible, horrible prose. Lovecraft? Terrible prose, and the worst dialogue skills of any major writer in history. Stephen King? Not so good.



Not all these guys can be Ray Bradbury or Alfred Bester, where you get the plus imagination and the plus style. But Martin is better than most. You don't need to feel ashamed for liking him.





Thanks for the well thought out response! I never thought he was one of the "greats" but nor did I ever think he was a bad writer.





The consensus does seem to be that he's quite bad at writing sex scenes....



I definitely think he's a "good writer" by any possible metric. His prose is vivid, detailed, and memorable, and his characters are very round. Like many very successful authors, he seems to have thrown economy out the window, but I can forgive him for that. Even when Brienne is literally walking around in circles it's still interesting to read.



I don't know what these hypothetical people are complaining about, maybe it's just a matter of taste for some people.





I agree whole heartedly with your assesment of his writing, but sadly these people are not hypothetical - I've seen several on this very forum :O I didn't feel there was any reason for throwing out names, as I hoped this thread would encourage them to step out and help me understand their stance.





I mean, he's not William Faulkner or F. Scott Fitzgerald, but he is much better than the vast majority of popular novelists, so I don't know where that puts him, above average but not hitting the 'great literature' level I guess.





Right, I never thought to put him on that sort of pedestal, but certainly he doesn't fall into the "bad" category. :mellow:


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I don't really understand the view of GRRM being a bad writer. Even if we take AFfC and DwD (which are generally thought of as bad, but not to me personally), his books are still better than 90% of literature written in last 20 years. When it comes to fantasy, he's in top 3 of living authors and top 10 of all the time fantasy-list.


I mean, did people try reading things like ''50 Shades of Grey'' or ''Twilight''?


How can anybody call GRRM a bad writer when there are thing like that being written at same time? :dunno:



We can argue about ASoIaF becoming or not becoming classic of literature (it already is fantasy classic) in future, but I don't see any point in selling the idea of him being a bad author...


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He's not a bad writer at all.



He creates very good characters


He has a lot of imagination to create the whole world surrounding ASOIAF


He has a simple narrative for a very complicated story.



He has flaws, though, no body is perfect. He repeats too much the same arcs sometimes, and he overuses certain tropes.

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Thankfully impatient terrible readers aren't actually the judge of who is a good writer or not.


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It's not that he's bad. It's just that he's not really a master. He's not Twain, or Hemingway, or Faulkner, or Steinbeck etc.



I mean, in my humble opinion, there's no chapter in ASoIaF that is even close in literary quality to something like, let's say, Snows of Kilimanjaro. But Martin's story is very entertaining, for me mostly because of the epic story behind it. So while he may not be a great writer (comparing to the all time best), he is good enough to tell an entertaining story. So I understand why some are annoyed when some kid say GRRM is the best writer of all time etc.



But some people think they will appear more intelligent if they say Martin is a bad writer, because it indicates that the accuser has read a lot of better stuff, as if reading acclaimed books is a great accomplishment.


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I actually really like his writing, and I feel like I appreciate it more in his standalone stuff (like Fevre Dream and Armageddon Rag) because I'm not as caught up in the trying-to-solve-the-plot game that goes on with ASOIAF. :D I agree that his sex scenes aren't sexy, but in a lot of cases they aren't intended to be; they're supposed to be creepy or sad or whatever. I got my BF to watch the series and he asked if there was that much sex in the books, and my answer was something like, "well, there is a fair amount of sex, but it's not as titillating as it is on the show, because it's usually showing you some sort of messed up power dynamic rather than just being like "BOOBS!")


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Does fantasy of this sort ever become "classic lit" and not just classic fantasy? Is Tolkien "classic lit"? I would argue yes, but there are those who would say no.

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I've seen several posters make the comment recently that GRRM is a bad writer. Comments often come in the form of "I love the story, but the man is not a good writer." Can someone shed some light on this for me?

Then discuss it directly with those posters, why won't you?

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I actually really like his writing, and I feel like I appreciate it more in his standalone stuff (like Fevre Dream and Armageddon Rag) because I'm not as caught up in the trying-to-solve-the-plot game that goes on with ASOIAF. :D I agree that his sex scenes aren't sexy, but in a lot of cases they aren't intended to be; they're supposed to be creepy or sad or whatever. I got my BF to watch the series and he asked if there was that much sex in the books, and my answer was something like, "well, there is a fair amount of sex, but it's not as titillating as it is on the show, because it's usually showing you some sort of messed up power dynamic rather than just being like "BOOBS!")

So much this. I love Fevre Dream, and his short stories are, IMHO, amazing.

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Then discuss it directly with those posters, why won't you?

Uhm, because I wanted everyone's opinion.

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One of the best writers I have read, in my opinion. Vivid and clear, and he does a great job at making sympathetic characters (even some of the "evil" ones), as well as at creating a damn good story. That being said, some parts of the novels seem to drag out a bit, and I could do without a few of the sub plots. It might be that I can be impatient at times, though, so I'm not troubled. I love his work in The Hedge Knight, and I'd like to see a similar pacing applied to the main series.







Does fantasy of this sort ever become "classic lit" and not just classic fantasy? Is Tolkien "classic lit"? I would argue yes, but there are those who would say no.






I feel like lit snobs usually dismiss fantasy as childish. There is not a lot of fantasy in the classic lit category. Among literary establishment, Tolkien is not seen with much high regard.



(Probably because fantasy isn't so pretentious, and is actually interesting, and it's not about wealthy, middle-aged persons sitting around drinking tea.) That's the impression I usually get, anyway...


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If we are comparing him to Benioff and Weiss, he is James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Leo Tolstoy, William Shakespeare and Gabriel García Márquez rolled into one.



In all seriousness though, he is an excellent pulp writer, one of the best, which I do not mean as an insult in any way.


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I've read a lot of different types of literature and I can say GRRM is pretty good. I could go as far as saying he is better than some well praised classics.


GRRM's writing style might seem too simple to some...but it's filled with hidden messages,symbolism. He is good at creating an entire world with its own history and customs. He can fleshout interesting characters. He takes inspiration from real history,yet adds his own touch. Sure..he is not the best writer of all times..but he is one of the best authors from the past 2 or more decades. He can make you suffer only by using words and plot twists. That says enough about his writing skills.



There are authors that use a lot of complicated words and sentences...but when you dissect them there is not much there.



I've tried reading 50 shades...Never got past chapter 4.


I never bothered reading Twilight. Not my cup of tea.


To be frank a lot of the authors nowadays write crap. I rarely find a book I like (that it's not a classic).


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