It has been over a quarter-century since George R R Martin originally pitched his Game Of Thrones saga to book publishers. What you might not know is that the original treatment was markedly different to what we ended up getting. (For example, there was originally going to be a love triangle between Tyrion, Jon and Arya. Eww.) We take a look at the Game Of Thrones that could have been.
In 2015, Waterstones Booksellers released the original query letter they received from Martin all the way back in 1993. The letter outlines his plans for A Song Of Ice And Fire - then envisioned as a trilogy - over three pages of plot notes.
What's fascinating about the letter is just how drastically it differs from the finished product - everything from the fates of major characters to romantic subplots were reworked or completely abandoned in the course of the writing process.
Here are some of the changes that really jump out:
- As you'd expect, the world was far less complex in the treatment: there were basically only four factions - Starks, Lannisters, Daenerys' army and the Others.
- Originally, both Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister were to fall in "passionate" love with everyone's favourite assassin: Arya Stark. (Presumably, Arya would have been a bit older in this version of the story!)
- Jaime Lannister was originally going to seize the Iron Throne - by killing everyone else. He was also going to blame Tyrion for the murders. It sounds like Jaime's character originally filled the role of Littlefinger before morphing into the conflicted anti-hero we know today.
- Catelyn Stark was going to be murdered by the Others. There was no Red Wedding: instead, Rob was killed in battle and Catelyn perished much later after fleeing beyond the Wall.
- In the original treatment, Sansa remained firmly on Team Lannister: she marries Joffrey and even gives birth to his son. It is also hinted that she comes to a sticky end.
- The arranged marriage between Khal Drogo and Daenerys was going to be an unhappy one - Martin intended Daenerys to murder her Dothraki husband to avenge the death of her brother. (In the finished story of course, she watches on in approval as Viserys is dispatched with molten gold.)
- Originally, Danny just happens to find some dragon eggs in the desert. We're glad this deus ex machina was changed.
The letter also lists the characters who survive the conflict. We won't spoil that here, but interested parties can check out the details at the link above.
Even if you aren't a fan of Game Of Thrones, the letter provides a fascinating insight into the writing process of one of the world's most successful authors. The chief takeaway for budding writers: don't marry yourself to your original outline. To paraphrase J.R.R Tolkien, allow your tale to grow in the telling!
For more fantasy writing advice, check out George R R Martin's top ten tips below.
Last night, A Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin took to the stage at the Sydney Opera House to discuss his popular fantasy series, the spin-off HBO TV show and his craft as a writer. Below are ten kernels of wisdom that could help budding authors write their own fantasy saga. (Surprisingly, 'take your time' isn't one of them.)
[Via Winter Is Coming]