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What has been the Meereenese’s knot in The Winds of Winter for the book taking so long?


Odej
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The Mereenese Knot was something different in my opinion. GRRM's expanded plot included a 5 year gap, intended to age up the characters. The problem was that when he went to write it, he had to back-fill five years for every pov character, which meant too much of the front end of the book was in retrospect. It didn't work. The gap went, which meant re-plotting on a shorter timeline, reworking what he could, rewriting, and trying to fit it all back together, which obviously proved tricky in complicated spots like Mereen.

I don't think any of the plotlines are a problem this time. In terms of plot he knows where he wants to go and how to get there. I firmly believe that the book is in a publishable state right now. I mean he announced that it was almost ready to be delivered a few years back. It seems to me that he's just not happy with parts of it. By that I mean every chapter is beyond first draft but some chapters are not yet at what he considers the standard of a final draft.

If you look at chapters like Mercy or the Forsaken, you can see the stand-alone quality of each piece. It's a high standard. One of the things GRRM said over the past couple of years is that he feels the expectation to be awesome every time he sits at his keyboard. That's a lot of pressure. Every writer is told that if you want to get into the flow then forget about what the reader might think and just write your story, but that's easier said than done, especially when there is such a high level of expectation.

I honestly think the story is more or less done and if he delivered it now the readership would be happy, but GRRM is not happy. Some people think he doesn't care anymore but I think if that was the case then we would have the book already. I think it's the opposite. He's trying to finish his masterpiece, immortalize himself in the upper pantheon of fantasy writers, all that good stuff. He has plenty of motive. He wants it to be great. He probably wants a Hugo. I think he knows where the story is going but hitting that high standard in delivering each chapter in it's final polished state is what's getting harder and harder, or at least taking longer and longer.

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Like @The Bard of Banefort  and @Raven Princling have said, I think the thing that has taken so long has been rewrites.

I think GRRM has rewritten The Winds of Winter on at least two separate times--if not three.

On 11/30/2021 at 8:16 AM, three-eyed monkey said:

If you look at chapters like Mercy or the Forsaken, you can see the stand-alone quality of each piece. It's a high standard. One of the things GRRM said over the past couple of years is that he feels the expectation to be awesome every time he sits at his keyboard. That's a lot of pressure. Every writer is told that if you want to get into the flow then forget about what the reader might think and just write your story, but that's easier said than done, especially when there is such a high level of expectation.

 

These are very good points.

If you take all of Jon's chapters from Dance or Cersei's chapters from Feast, then you end up with a bonafide novella. Seeing as George's background is in writing short stories (which then translated into TV writing), I think George's goal is for every single chapter (and every single POV arc) to be one extraordinary short story.

On 11/30/2021 at 9:09 AM, The Hoare said:

How can Daenerys sail to Westeros while there's so many plots in Essos?

Having Tyrion, Victarion, Barristan and maybe Arya stationed in Essos makes the wrapping up of plots there a lot easier than it if it were just Dany.

Also, there's a pretty big possibility that we might not need every plotline in Essos to be wrapped up before she leaves for Westeros. There's a good chance that we might see Essos again or that Essosi characters will appear in Westeros in the middle or at the end of A Dream of Spring

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16 hours ago, BlackLightning said:

I think GRRM has rewritten The Winds of Winter on at least two separate times--if not three.

Lol no. This is just wishful thinking which is not based on any fact. If he ever had publishable amounts of finished MS pages, he would instantly publish it.

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15 hours ago, Mithras said:

Lol no. This is just wishful thinking which is not based on any fact. If he ever had publishable amounts of finished MS pages, he would instantly publish it.

No he wouldn't.

GRRM explicitly has stated that he is after a definite conclusion that satisfies himself. Which tells me that he is rewriting and editing continously

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On 12/2/2021 at 9:51 AM, Mithras said:

Lol no. This is just wishful thinking which is not based on any fact. If he ever had publishable amounts of finished MS pages, he would instantly publish it.

He definitely rewrites a lot. He said he wrote three or four different versions of Quentyn’s arrival in Meereen. There’s also an early version of Brienne meeting the Brotherhood floating around online that’s completely different from the published version. 
 

I do think George’s newfound celebrity got in the way during the peak years of GOT, and all these TV productions aren’t helping either. But I also think that he’s a perfectionist who has let the pressure get to him.

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I often see people speculate wether George has trouble with the Battle of Winterfell, the Meereenese plot or the Ironborn-Oldtown clash. But honestly, these problems should be solved on the first 100 pages. The Winds of Winter likely goes on long enough to make itself impossible to guess where George currently is at with it. 

My guess would still be Bran, the lore behind the Others and fAegon. Did he lose interest? I don't think so, he seemed rather stressed about it in a post of his back in summer. Did he scrap a lot of stuff, maybe multiple times as well? Yes. 

Edited by Daeron the Daring
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7 hours ago, Daeron the Daring said:

I often see people speculate wether George has trouble with the Battle of Winterfell, the Meereenese plot or the Ironborn-Oldtown clash. But honestly, these problems should be solved on the first 100 pages. The Winds of Winter likely goes on long enough to make itself impossible to guess where George currently is at with it. 

My guess would still be Bran, the lore behind the Others and fAegon. Did he lose interest? I don't think so, he seemed rather stressed about it in a post of his back in summer. Did he scrap a lot of stuff, maybe multiple times as well? Yes. 

I’m thinking the timeline is probably causing him trouble too. Drogon only just grew large enough to carry a petite 17-year-old girl on his back. Bran is still in single-digits. Aegon and JonCon are going to have to fight a lot of battles/win a lot of castles before they can take King’s Landing. Dany has to have her adventure with the Dothraki, get back to Meereen and figure shit out there, and then make her way through the entirety of Essos before reaching Westeros herself. If Jon is going to be leading the North by then, then something has to happen to Stannis. I imagine that just synching these stories up with one another is incredibly difficult.

That said, ten years should arguably be enough time to work out the kinks, especially when a year of that is in lockdown. . . 
 

I would never be able to do what George does. But he is an extremely experienced writer and storyteller by this point. Part of me blames his editor/publisher for not making note of these issues earlier on (unless they did and he just ignored them).

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On 11/25/2021 at 1:45 PM, Odej said:

j) Creative block. There are too many plots and Martin doesn’t know how to deal with all of them.

I think this is the primary reason. He let too many branches grow out too far that their collective weight is causing the entire story to sag. This is an area where Tolkien did it right for the most part. Sure there was a wider world with other things happening, but Tolkien kept the story focused and moving forward.

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10 hours ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

Part of me blames his editor/publisher for not making note of these issues earlier on (unless they did and he just ignored them).

Lol, GRRM is immune to editing. That much is made clear from the margin notes from the ADwD manuscript.

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A Mix between D and J.

The plot lines in Essos become more and more complicated and at the end of ADWD new storylines are being created instead of old ones being solved. The Tattered Prince, whose price for helping Barristan Selmy is Pentos. Dany with just one dragon in the Dothraki sea meeting Khal Jhaqo.  The political situation in Slavers' Bay, especially Mereen. The "Mereneese knot", how I understand it, is indeed a difficult thing - how can Dany get out of there and to Westeros without rendering the whole storyline useless? The awkward situation in Winterfell. The false Dimitry, uhm, Aegon. Stannis and Melisandre. Euron. Victarion and Moqorro (a storyline where we still don't quite know what it's all about).

Meanwhile I've almost given up hope, that new novels will ever appear. But in 20 or 30 years we might get the opportunity to work through the biggest literary estate of all times :-))

Edited by Shagwell the mad jester
typo
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On 12/5/2021 at 10:41 PM, The Bard of Banefort said:

I’m thinking the timeline is probably causing him trouble too.

If you mean that doing the five year gap would be a solution to most of his current problems with the timeline, then yes. Othwise, not so much. 

Daenerys arrives when he wants her to arrive, basically. That goes for Arya as well (the range of period when she can return is wide enough for him to execute is easily). I'm guessing the problem is with King's Landing and its surrounding, I assume. Add the Ironborn to that. The North once again isn't that complicated to connect to the timeline. I assume the next time the big Northern Blob will have to interact with the South is when Daenerys is already there. That being said, Arya might have to join that mess, but noone else really who has to arrive like a timed bomb. That being said, the entire Northern line is a big knot, but still way easier to unfold than the South. 

Out of all this, George may have problems with given (on the picture of everything, with very small) situations anywhere, but that's all. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Fundamentally, it is that the story is too wide. Rather, there are too many stories, too many characters, and all of them intertwined. In the end, I think Martin may come to understand why Tolkien didn't care about Aragorn's tax policy: not everything needs to be in the story. Oftentimes, ASoIaF feels to me like a slog as LotR never did, and I suspect it is because Martin went too wide.

Also, descriptions of food.

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On 12/5/2021 at 11:13 PM, Mithras said:

Lol, GRRM is immune to editing. That much is made clear from the margin notes from the ADwD manuscript.

Ha! 
 

It’s the cut of his jib, In the square and on the level. Big builds many bricks. Attentions all angles of every word and desires to impart his view to its manifestations. May Muses make Mercury quick his quills panache.

Edited by Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe
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