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Daendrew

Causation or correlation? After this happened in 2005, GRRM dramatically slowed down publication times

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In 2005, after the publication of AFFC, Lev Grossman gave GRRM the moniker "The American Tolkien".

The books have gotten massively more complex with so many balls in the air but I was just wondering if the pressure of measuring up to Tolkien's legacy weighed the man down a bit and made him work longer and harder to create the masterpiece he is creating.

Here is Lev Grossman following up with his review of ADWD:

In 2005 I wrote a review of George R.R. Martin's novel A Feast for Crows in which I called him "the American Tolkien." The phrase has stuck to him, as it was meant to. I believed Martin was our age's and our country's answer to the master of epic fantasy. Now it's six years later, and I've read Martin's new novel, A Dance with Dragons, and I'm happy to report that I was totally right.

Martin has produced — is producing, since the series isn't over — the great fantasy epic of our era. It's an epic for a more profane, more jaded, more ambivalent age than the one Tolkien lived in. Tolkien was a veteran of the Somme, and The Lord of the Rings was partly written during World War II. (It was published in 1954.) Tolkien wrote at a time when it really seemed as if a war was on for the fate of civilization.

Now we're not even sure what civilization is. George R.R. Martin (his R.R. stands for Raymond Richard; Tolkien's stands for Ronald Reuel) was born in 1948. He didn't serve at the Somme, though he may have played through it once or twice in a video game. A Song of Ice and Fire — which is the rather florid title of Martin's series — is an epic for us, for the way we live now and the way we fantasize now.

Full text here: http://content.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2081774,00.html

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I think George has certainly felt a certain pressure from it -- AFfC was his most widely and most posistively reviewed book by critics, thanks to its appearance as #1 on the NYT bestseller list, and the very positive attention it received to its breadth, its depth of character, its themes that grappled with war and violence and power, all that certain raised the bar for the expectations from the wider audience. To a degree, it's AFfC's success in raising his profile that created everything that followed, including the HBO show.

That said, he was already struggling with the problems that the increasingly complicated, far-flung plot was causing, having split AFfC from ADwD, and so to a degree I think it wasn't a primary factor in what followed, but a minor one. And George has said that his natural tendency is that he has become more and more perfectionist as he's become older.

So the praise had a little effect, as I think George has said, but not much.

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Indirectly this could be a cause. I think it's more Martin became a victim of his own success. The more widely exposed and popular his work became, especially once the show became mainstream, the slower his work got.

I don't know him, and anything he says in front of a camera is going to be so guarded to the point of being meaningless. Maybe the pressure's getting to him, maybe he's made his money and doesn't care. I think it would be a shame if seasons 7 and 8 of the show defined his legacy, but at this point I think that's all the ending we're going to get. Naturally I hope I'm wrong.

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As Ran says, the "slowing down" of George's book production started after ASOS, not after AFFC.

He started writing the book after the famous five year gap. Then he decided that he couldn't justify that the events in the Iron Islands and Dorne waited 5 years to happen and decided to write two prologues. Each of the two prologues grow to became novellas on their own right. Then he decided that the 5 year gap still didn't work, scraping everything he had produced so far. Then he was told that the two prologues were too long and he had to convert its characters into full povs, forcing him to distribute the chapters along the books and write follow ups for some of the stories. Then he saw the book was expanding too much, and took the decision to split Feast and Dance...

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53 minutes ago, The hairy bear said:

As Ran says, the "slowing down" of George's book production started after ASOS, not after AFFC.

He started writing the book after the famous five year gap. Then he decided that he couldn't justify that the events in the Iron Islands and Dorne waited 5 years to happen and decided to write two prologues. Each of the two prologues grow to became novellas on their own right. Then he decided that the 5 year gap still didn't work, scraping everything he had produced so far. Then he was told that the two prologues were too long and he had to convert its characters into full povs, forcing him to distribute the chapters along the books and write follow ups for some of the stories. Then he saw the book was expanding too much, and took the decision to split Feast and Dance...

Not quite. Because George ditched all the work he did from mid-2000 to late-2001, it means that AFFC and the first 500 pages of ADWD were written in under 3.5 years, which compares reasonably favourably with the ~3 year per book average production time of the first three books. So yeah, the production time was significantly slower, but George's writing time did not significantly decrease. That's been a more recent phenomenon, although as George has said he also did a ton more rewriting than ever did before (particularly on ADWD) to the point where he ended up writing maybe twice as many words as actually ended up in the book, including dead ends, drafts etc. 

I think the issue is a mixture of the perfectionism, being unhappy with chapters he'd have happily let go in the AGoT-ASoS period; the greater complexity of the story at this point and his refusal to write an outline; and the decision to promote many of the AFFC "super-prologue" characters to full-time POVs, rather than just kill or drop them as per his original plan.

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@Werthead

It seems to me that if we don't take into account the time George spends in work he ends ditching, we may end concluding that George writing time hasn't actually decreased.

I see no difference between the rewrites needed to wave away the 5 year gap and the rewrites needed to reorder the arrivals and events happening in Mereen. As far as I know, George's rewrites are never due to the quality of the prose or him wanting to find the right voice of a character. It's always a matter of introducing structural modifications to the plot.

As I see it, it all stems from George's "gardener" approach. The consequence of this way of writing, without sketching the books structure beforehand, is that one may realize that something doesn't work only after having written it.

I don't think it's a matter of becoming more of a perfectionist, because it's only ASOIAF that George seems to write more slowly. All the recent work George has done in which he had to go for the "architect" approach, he delivered the results quite quickly: we've been told Fire and Blood, with the structure already fixed by the chronologies, was wrote in a very short time. And there's also the episodes he wrote for the show, that had to be produced in a tight timeline.

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GRRM has specifically said he's become more of a perfectionist, but perhaps it's more accurate to say he's become increasingly perfectionist about the ASoIaF novels where he seems to take painstaking care about every detail of character interaction and so on. There's far more psychological depth and complexity in the novels as compared to F&B and the like. This may apply to D&E as well. He considers "fake history" to be in a lot of ways very different from the novels.

 

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Considering that JRRT had even less output (both as a 'professional writer', which he never was, as well as an academic) than GRRM 'the American Tolkien' is fitting more in one aspect...

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4 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Considering that JRRT had even less output (both as a 'professional writer', which he never was, as well as an academic) than GRRM 'the American Tolkien' is fitting more in one aspect...

I don't see how differences justify an analogy, even if you only focus on those differences that are arguably in GRRM's favor.

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Oh the first book took a turbo ultra long time too, you just didn't know to be counting the years on that one because the series didn't exist yet.   (Twas A Secret Slowness).   

  Is Cersei the American Sauron?    What other equivalents are there....   A clear connection can be drawn between Sam and.... Sam.- - - - They're both portly wingmen, Jim.    Horse lords here, horse lords there, check.    Hightower as a very subtle Orthanc, like if Saruman had never peered into the palantir and lost his soul to the unnerving dark eyeball staring back at him.      I guess the Dunedain refugee status would have to go to Aegon I and his descendant Strider/Danny, but I like to romanticize the Braavosi as that better species of humankind who stand apart like they share the Dunedain's potential.  The dragon lords haven't stood above anyone behaviorally, they just fly over you which is cheating.  That's not worthiness.

The Yunkai'i are Tolkein's Southron nations of wicked men, but with an S&M emphasis to reflect the changing times.   Gandalf traveled and came to you, Bloodraven is an updated wizard who keeps banker's hours and makes you come to him.  His immobilized form represents morbid obesity spiking in America.   He's grafted to the sofa.   Also, the joining of treant and wizard into an odd chimera symbolizes the American penchant for business mergers.    Wormtongue went into business for himself and goes by Baelish.   

Fire priests = Balrogs?! - - - Mistaken angels drawn into the service of a tainted god.   White Walkers, meet the ringwraiths.   Tolkein had trolls, George employs Freys.   Taking advantage of the stereotype that trolls live under or around bridges.    This generation has lost out on Tom Bombadil but we've picked up a Varys.   No one's really willing to stand in there like the lady Galadriel; Melisandre comes closest, crossing the continents for a cause, weilding the magics and perhaps even rivaling the immortality.   Sansa plays dress up instead of being a princess, so did Rohan's Miranda Otto.   

In conclusion,

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There may be a reason why it took 5 years from 2000 ASOS to 2005 AFFC

*putting tin foil hat on*
Unfortunately, something crossed my mind a while ago and I confirmed it pretty much with the HBO ending.
Sadly, its about the attacks of September 11th 2001.
For those who have seen the HBO TV ending, you know a dragon starts exploding buildings in [you can fill in the blank for this city]
This was the ending George had in mind since 1996. No way he can predict the events of Sept 11th 2001.

He has formula where Jets = Dragons, and it attacked New York City ... the area where he is from.

And not just any part of New York City ... but the Twin Towers ... which the Westoresi location of the Twins were influenced by.

I am pretty sure the terrorist attacks conflicted him personally and professionally as a writer in 2001.
He was alive when the Twin Towers were raised, and he was alive to witness them fall.

But its not his fault. And eventually he got over it. And thanks to @kissdbyfire, I saw this image a few months ago:
https://grrm.livejournal.com/212603.html
Those are the Twin Towers in the background btw. I think he moved on from feeling bad about writing his true ending.

*removing tin foil hat*

 

2005 AFFC & 2011 ADWD is George Lucas' fault

 

*putting tin foil hat back on*
The Martini Master Plan:
To get revenge on George Lucas for the unfortunate 2005 coincidence, GRRM teams up with HBO and D&D.
With his help for the first 4 seasons, Game of Throne has risen in popularity and established itself as one of the best shows on TV.
Martin has made a name for himself, rivaling Lucas.
Then Martin abandons D&D to fend for themselves.
In the meanwhile, Martin has stolen the artist from the Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith comics and used him for Fire & Blood 2018.
Over time D&D has proven themselves as terrible writers, but the Star Wars franchise have already taken Martin's bait.
D&D are contracted for the next Star Wars films, the perfect revenge against Lucas' legacy.
D&D won't just stir Star Wars into awfulness, it will be shaken and broken!
2005 - 2019 = 14 years for this Martini Master Plan. So much patience GRRM has.
*removing tin foil hat*

 

BTW to D&D, when GRRM told you a dragon will attack [fill in the blank] and buildings start exploding ... fire dragons can't explode buildings. Like Harrenhal, the stones melted ... it doesn't explode!!

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Could be a combo of the pressure of high expectations to live up to Tolkien and hence the perfectionism, and the pressure of the show. 

I thought he seemed quite defensive when someone questioned if he deserved the Tolkien title on his blog, pointing out that people wouldn't give a shit about everything he's accomplished so far if he doesn't finish the books. GRRM said F&B was his Silmarillion. But Tolkien earns his legendary status for the main novels, that he finished.

Edited by Rose of Red Lake

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