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Write Like George R.R. Martin 101: Create the Next Game of Thrones
Write Like George R.R. Martin 101: Create the Next Game of Thrones

Write Like George R.R. Martin 101: Create the Next Game of Thrones

“Fantasy and historical novels are twins,” opines Martin.

For the uninitiated, George R.R. Martin, an American novelist, and screenwriter is the celebrated author of Game of Thrones, an epic fantasy novel. The book has garnered sales from over 25 million copies.

1. What is Game of Thrones anyway?

Published in 1996, Game of Thrones was the first book in a series of such fantasy novels named A Song of Ice and Fire. This series went on to become a worldwide publishing phenomenon. After that, the books were adapted into the TV series Game of Thrones by HBO and went on to become a mega-hit.

This bloody and vicious fantasy saga paints a very detailed creation of the worlds featured. You will find lots of wars, murders, plots, and betrayals. There are sibling marriages, dragon riders, and assassinations – all the juicy guts and glory stuff that make up this enduring tale.

Are you looking to create the next Game of Thrones?

Then read on to discover how to write like George R.R. Rawlings.

2. How Did George R.R. Martin Come Up with Game of Thrones?

Image source: Flickr

The inspiration for George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy, Game of Thrones seems to have sprung from English medieval history. The story’s background and the main plot of A Song of Ice and Fire is rooted in the English War of Roses.

These series of civil wars were fought between two prominent families: The House of Lancaster (Lannisters) and the House of York (Starks). They were both fighting for the English throne.

Rivalry forms a central theme in the Game of Thrones narrative with hostility witnessed between the Lannisters and the Starks. The noble Ned Stark heads the Winterfell household while Tywin Lannister leads the reigning house at King’s Landing. Stark stands for honor and sacrifice while Lannister lusts for power, is business savvy, and ruthless.

Several events featured in the show’s eighth series bear a striking similarity to real historical incidents. Did George R.R. Martin borrow heavily from English, Scottish and European history dating back 1000 years such as the Scottish Black Dinner and the Massacre of Glencoe? To weave this violent fantasy narrative, did Martin then add fire-breathing dragons and ice zombies? It does seem so.

The Icy wall manned by the Night’s Watch is one of the show’s most breathtaking sights. It’s inspired by Hadrian’s Wall between England and Scotland. Built by the invading Roman army in 122 AD, this northern border of the Roman Empire was to help keep the ‘barbarians’ away.

A couple of female characters were also inspired by real historical characters such as Margaret of Anjou (Cersei Lannister), Elizabeth I (Daenerys Targaryen), and Joan of Arc (Brienne of Tarth. Young Edward IV and an older Henry VIII were the basis for Robert Baratheon and Oliver Cromwell brought to life Peter Baelishd.

Though Martin himself admits that the story “came out of nowhere”, it owes a lot to the middle ages. He also reveals that the Westeros’ map – a fictional continent- is based primarily on upside-down Ireland.

While the book’s plot is based on reality, Martin notes that he bases a lot of his plots and characters on history. Then he “turns it up to eleven” and “changes the colour from red to purple” for the iconic scenes in the book.

3. How Do I Write Like George RR Martin?

George RR Martin
George RR Martin

George R.R. Martin

Image source: Wikipedia

If you are looking to create a captivating and vivid fantasy world filled with a wide range of heroes, you need to have a vision that will appeal to many people.

The first chapter of Martin’s Game of Thrones and the HBO series that ensued was inspired by a vision. He dreamt of a beheading, a boy and wolves and was seized by an irresistible desire to write a novel. He kept thinking about characters and their scenes. The dream was so vivid that he knew he had to write it.

Below are guidelines to follow when you desire to write like George R.R. Martin:

3.1 Create a complex reality

When writing your book or article, you need to have special effects in mind as well as have great attention to detail. Unlike Martin, you might not be writing about fire-breathing dragons.

However, if someone is jumping off a skyscraper or the SWAT team is spraying a terrorist with bullets, for example, then you want to transport your reader to a real-life scenario.

You need to create a very vivid picture in the reader’s mind by use of special effects. Martin’s novels are deeply appealing because they are complex, deep, and authentic.

This is important no matter what genre of writing you choose to focus on.

As much as his writing focuses on dragons and zombies, Martin goes to great lengths to show the human cost of wars. Real history is rather complex and not a simple matter of good forces overcoming evil ones. Furthermore, he tries to show the humane side in every character, including the nasty and flawed.

3.2 To plan or not to plan?

For Martin, the whole thing comes together at the same time. He writes the story and at the same time puts it together. He doesn’t first build the world, then writes in it. Following his example, your writing turns more and more alive as you write and fill in some things.

This means that, at times, a well-crafted story might not necessarily require years of careful step-by-step planning. A good idea might occur later in the creative process so try to be flexible in your storytelling. You can still create an engaging narrative without being so fixated on very serious planning.

Nevertheless, this is not cast in stone. If you prefer to have an outline, then go for it. Figure out which works best for you and adapt it as your unique writing style.

3.3 Research widely

You need to go big on research. As mentioned earlier, A song of Ice and Fire was heavily based on the War of the Roses. Martin’s research went to great depths. He immersed himself in the subject and learned as much as he could. Note, however, not to include all you know about the subject in your book.

3.4 Self-edit

To ensure that all your subplots relate to your books’ core cast and recognize what contributes minimally to the overall narrative, you need to self-edit. You can do this by finishing writing the article first, then trimming the final word count. This is much easier if your writing throughout is tight and concise from the get-go.

3.5 Write what you know

Martin advises that you write authentically. Your characters ought to respond to a given event based on a truth you know or have experience in. You need to tap into your emotional truth to enable you to make your characters come alive. 

To do this, you need a high level of emotional awareness and self-examination to express abstract emotions in great detail. All the same, don’t put a limit to your imagination, but go ahead and create your characters, worlds, and plots. The more often you write the better a writer you will become.

4. How is Writing Like George RR Martin Related to Digital Marketing? 

George RR Martin’s vivid imagination has enthralled the world with the detailed history of the Seven Kingdoms and the gut-wrenching tragedies that follow his characters.

Even without demons, digital marketing shares a couple of similarities with the epic novel, Game of Thrones.

4.1. Research is key

In his writing, Martin realized that he needed a full history to enable him to create a fascinating backstory. This spawned a deep history of each character, place, and object. It also helped deepen the readers’ sense of authenticity.

In digital marketing, the research marks the starting point for most of the work. It makes your digital marketing offering meatier, but your groundwork requires a lot of effort.

This involves research into:

  • Industry best practices
  • Market trends
  • Innovative ways and tools to use digital platforms

4.2. Get a personality

When writing your articles, a bit of a personality helps. No one has the time to read through a boring text. Millions read Martin’s books because they are entertaining and educational. This is what your readers are looking for so ensure your blogs and articles fit this profile.

4.3. Be a good writer

Martin is a fantastic writer whose great ability, style, and brilliant imagination have captivated readers for years. Digital marketing is also mainly about writing such as blog posts, your website copy, email newsletters, and social media posts.

Practice often to improve your writing skills.

4.4. Kill those you love

If your favourite marketing channel is not giving you the results you desire, it’s time to look elsewhere. Don’t only use the channels that you are comfortable using.

At the end of the day, it’s all about which channels your customers use. Test and try various channels, and once you find out which ones work, kill the rest, even if they are dear to you. Just like Martin.

How can good storytelling transfer to copywriting and PPC?

In PPC ad copy, every word matters. Successful copy refers to a combination of various forms of information and emotions in such a way that it inspires action. In a nutshell, strong copy helps to bring out strong reactions from your readers and target customers. This ultimately leads to conversions.

Storytelling also resonates well with your readers because it walks them through problem-solving stages. You can use it to frame an effective PPC report, streamline reports and save on the time needed to sum up all the hard work of running your PPC campaigns.

5 How Does This Benefit You?

People yearn for intense experiences, the more intense, the better. Many go to great lengths to seek such experiences. Fantasy allows you to visit amazing and wonderful places that allow you to fulfil this desire.

Effective copywriting and PPC will help drive targeted traffic to your website. Campaigns that are at the forefront of trends and easily adapt to emerging trends translate to higher conversion rates and increased sales for your business. However, if your ad copy is below par, you will not get the results you desire.

A powerful emotional response helps to spur people into action. This is especially so online. When you read something that makes you experience a strong emotional reaction to it, you then click through.

Depending on the response you wish to bring about, you can use this powerful technique when writing your PPC ad copy.

With digital marketing, the more channels and platforms you use, the better your chance of creating better experiences and winning many customers. Target the right customers and offer them a good value. Don’t give up on your marketing efforts because it all comes together in the end.


George R.R. Martin wrote many books before Game of Thrones, which became total flops. This did not deter him. Instead, he continued writing and the Game of Thrones catapulted him to great fame. He eventually wrote four other sequels. This ought to encourage you to not give up on your craft.

The fact is any story worth reading ideally talks about people. No matter where it’s set, it’s all about people deciding between right and wrong, how to survive, and questions relating to good and evil. Besides, some readers believe that Game of Thrones offers a perfect example of understanding climate change.

Westeros people fight their individual battles over power and status and wealth while ignoring the threat of “winter is coming.” Likewise, today while we battle over foreign and domestic policy, civil rights, and social justice, we ignore climate change and its potential to destroy the world we live in.

George R.R. Martin’s writing has captivated millions of fans of the popular tv show and die-hard book fans. Now that you know how to write like Martin, go forth and leave your mark on the world.

Do you love Game of Thrones? Is there any additional writing tip we missed?

Which tip will you implement first?

Leave a comment and let us know.

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About David Freudenberg

David is an experienced Public Relations manager currently working as part of the Cardinal Digital Marketing team. They are an Atlanta based Digital Marketing Agency that specializes in PPC Management.

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