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TheWitch

Writing ASOIAF in 2017/What would you change?

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So we are given the chance to start ASIOAF all over again. Its magic or something, don't question the logic. Also I'm more than happy with the series as it is, but there's all things we would change, and what do you imagine GRRM would change?

Firstly, in the world building I would personally choice to tone a few things down. Maybe make some buildings a little less huge, I know GRRM has expressed a small amount of regret at making the wall SO big. For me, the world has always been so attractive for it's realistic feel and sometimes the scale of things can take that away for me. I would also have avoided making all the Kingdoms SO consistent with their leadership. Obviously we hear about periods of time when other Houses had control of various Kingdoms, but most of the Kingdoms have been under consistent rule for millennia (if the timeline is to be believed). I understand GRRM wouldn't likely change this to avoid over complication, but personally I'd love to see more history of fallen dynastys. I would also introduce a more diverse sexuality amongst the characters. Don't get me wrong, as a gay man, the amount of queerness in the books was amazing, and outshines a lot of fantasy. However, unlike in 1996, its really not as radical anymore. I really do think if GRRM had started the series now he would have included a lot of queer characters, maybe even a POV. 

In terms of story arch, I wouldn't change a great deal. I would maybe have made Robb a POV. I also think a Tyrell POV, someone in the faith and maybe some more wildlings and small folk would be cool, but of course that could be in the next books. I'm hesitant to take anything out of the story, as the pay off could still be around the corner.

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58 minutes ago, TheWitch said:

So we are given the chance to start ASIOAF all over again. Its magic or something, don't question the logic. Also I'm more than happy with the series as it is, but there's all things we would change, and what do you imagine GRRM would change?

Make each character one year older.  Makes the activities of, especially, the younger characters, a little easier to swallow.

Pay more attention to internal chronology.  It's a complete mess, and often impossible to figure what is happening when.  (Of course, that may well be deliberate)

Robb as a POV would be nice, as well as Cersei or Jaime in the early books.  Get some Lannister perspective earlier on.

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I would take the religious elements he writes into the texts and find a way to spin them more seriously. As a person raised to be religious, I feel like there's something a tad inauthentic about his portrayal of people that truly believe in religion, and the role it plays in their daily life, culture, etc., etc. I think all the right elements are there... histories, myths (e.g., Azor Ahai; the gods revealing themselves to the Andals), holy texts (e.g., The Seven Pointed Star), sects or groups (e.g., silent sisters; red priests; most devout;), etc. Something about it feels like a shell. We see a lot of people praying, but I can't say that really any of them really believe it's going to be heard or answered. Religions like the Faith of the Seven (i.e., Abrahamic religions) demand that you actually believe rather than rituals that are mostly just going through the motions.

Melisandre is the closest we get to something authentic in my opinion, and she's played up to be a bit of a fanatic... burning people and whatnot. She's also revealed to be a deceiver, using potions and powders for theatrical effect. The barefoot Septon that's featured in Brienne's chapter (why can't I ever remember his name?) and the Septon on the island are also portrayed to be fairly pious. Only Melisandre is a prominent character between them all though.

This is not saying that real world religions did not do these things (or currently are doing), but there are genuine believers out there and GRRM has a subtle way of influencing the reader to criticize them more than think there is something legitimate to them. I think most people (including me) believe there really aren't any gods in Planetos, just magic.

My point is, the religious elements of life back in medieval times were a very powerful one. It's why the Catholic church was such an influential (and oftentimes corrupt) institution during those times. When people are asked to choose between their king (provider in this life) and their deity (provider in the next life), many would legitimately choose the latter.

This last bit probably belongs in the literature section, but I'd like to read a fantasy writing that "worldbuilt" religion(s) better than GRRM. Perhaps its an area that's not well developed to begin with.

Edited by Traverys

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Oh goodie, a wish list...

All the young characters need to be older and 3 separate series: Dany & later Arya's adventures East, King's Landing and the North.  GRRM could write what character and setting he liked at the moment and still feed us shorter tombs of brilliance more frequently.    There is nothing wrong with a 500 page book.  

I just received A Game of Thrones The Illustrated Edition (Autographed by GRRM!!!!).   It's a gorgeous book and there are some very talented artists willing to put their effort in here. Gads, a picture adds so much to the words on the page--every single issue should be illustrated.  Outside of this there is not much I would change.   Regardless the 20+ years gone since AGOT was released, the series is stunning.      

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Oh wow what a wish list indeed.  I would compress the history a bit - it is difficult for me to suspend my disbelief that certain buildings are 100s or 1000s of years old, and that almost no technological advances have been made.  I would reduce the magic significantly and tone down the targaryen dragon thing (so no still borns with scales and wings).  Age up all of the young characters except for Bran by 4 years from the get go, get rid of LSH, remove Dorne as a POV (Arianne/Areo), introduce Euron earlier if only by mentioning him in bypass (like Stannis in AGOT), hint much more heavily at Aegon and much earlier.  Oh, and finish the entire series before releasing any books, then letting the publisher release one every 12-18 months.

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As a few other people have said already, the character ages are the biggest issue for me. The younger characters would have been better off having been a few years older, and the frequency of child marriages is a bit extreme.

Although this would have made the series more difficult to write, it would have been interesting to see more variations in the languages and religions of Westeros. Having everyone speak the Common Tongue is fine, but I find it odd that more isolated regions such as the North, Dorne, and the Iron Islands don't have a secondary language spoken within their kingdoms. It would also make more sense if the Seven were worshiped differently throughout Westeros, perhaps even playing a role in past wars (say, if Daeron and the Dornish supported one denomination of the Faith of the Seven, but Daemon and his supporters followed another). I think the conflict between the Old Way and the New Way would actually make more sense if it had a religious component; part of the reason why the Ironborn reave is because they believe the Drowned God encourages it, so if a new sector believes that this is a misinterpretation of the Drowned God's dogma, then that could provide a strong incentive for wanting to change. 

I also think the editing could have been tighter, especially in the later books. We don't need six consecutive pages describing how a character wandered the sewers or rationed their bread. 

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Posted (edited)

Let’s see: 

Robb POV. GRRM is on notice for saying he should have put one in.

Myrcella POV. Rather contradicting views on a non-pov; Jon thinks she’s ditzy and shallow while Arianne has her as intelligent and kind-hearted.

Margaery POV

Tywin POV

Edric Dayne POV. Could shed some light on Ned Stark’s relationship with House Dayne.

No Lady Stoneheart. Lady Stoneheart for me is as useful as nipples on a breastplate.

Maybe a POV from The Mountain.

Edited by Angel Eyes

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Agreed about the ages for sure!

 

Another realistic change that would probably happen: If the books were being released now, and not the 90s, Game of Thrones could be far less circumspect with gay characters. (For example, he wouldn't have to beat around the bush so much in descriptions of Loras and Renly's relationship.) I'm not implying that the author was less approving or anything, just that he was writing for a world I'm which open descriptions of gay relationships was less acceptable to the mainstream public. 

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Agree with the ages. I would also have liked to introduce a noble family that originated from elsewhere than Westeros and was comparable to real world people of color. For instance, I once read a post about upper class people of African descent living freely in England in the 18th century. History tends to erase these examples of diversity and present life as being much more homogeneous in the past than it was. It would be cool to see these instances of diversity reflected within the series. A family of prominence, even if not a major noble family, that originated as freed Naathi slaves or something would be quite interesting. 

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I can live with most of the stuff in the series, so the only things I'd change:

  1. Finish editing AFFC and ADWD before publishing. Too much filler and some of the dialog was so stilted and awkward that I needed to either read through it really fast like ripping off a bandaid or get a shot of whiskey to get through it. Did not enjoy a lot of these two books.
     
  2. Make a prominent role for the Summer Islanders including myth, culture, etc. They sound interesting given what little we know of them and with the Summer/Winter season balance problems, it seems like it would be a great addition. I know Westeros needs to be somewhat racially homogenous to successfully hide all of the secret so-and-so's which is such a big part of many of the plots, but I think something could have been worked out. 
     
  3. Give Dany an actual plot post-dragons and not write Essos like a bunch of sadist cartoon characters. She was a strong character in AGOT when she had to be clever to improve her station, but relied too much the wow-factor of the dragons after that and it made her and her arc boring. 
     
  4. Commit to finishing the series. Either give up the side projects, tell the readers up front that you may or may not finish as you feel like it, or don't start it in the first place. 

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No Lady Stoneheart and the Five Year Gap would be the big ones. No awkward half and half divide with Feast/Dance either.

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 Honestly I wouldn't change a thing, other than perhaps finishing the fucking story already.

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1. Add Valeman POV

2. Instead of Brienne vs Rorge, i would rather have Sandor vs Rorge.

3. Windblown chapter was unnecessary.

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