This week, I'm writing the first in a new category of blog posts. I want to examine some of the creative influences in my life that have effected my novel ANOM: Awakening. For this initial offering, I'm going to talk about the impact of George R. R. Martin's fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire.
At this point, it would be prudent to mention that, for better or worse, my novel is not really like George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire at all. For one thing, Martin's novels fall squarely within the fantasy genre. ANOM: Awakening, does not. The closest I can get is by labeling my book as Science Fiction, but even this is a stretch. ANOM: Awakening is more like a really long comic book without the pictures. Secondly, Martin's writing is mega-successful and has spawned a multi-media phenomenon with the runaway success of HBO's Game of Thrones. Last I checked, I'm still waiting to self-publish my first novel on Amazon. The bottom-line is, I am NOT trying to equate my book with the novels of George R. R. Martin.
That being said, I did learn an important lesson from Martin, and that's the issue I would like to explore today.
If you are unfamiliar with Martin and his novels, the HBO series Game of Thrones is a good place to start. This served as my own introduction, but after the first season of the television show, I turned to the novels themselves. Just like you would expect, the books contained A LOT more detail and backstory than could ever be shown through the television.
One of the aspects of Martin's novels I most enjoyed (and something that, until recently, has been lacking from the HBO series) is a sense of history. You understand through the novels that Martin's world of Westeros existed for a very long time before we ever read the first word on the first page. Throughout the series, characters constantly reference a well-known history that readers never get to experience first-hand. Even so, that history is always there-- and it influences characters and events in a way that the reader can't understand at first. Martin reveals that history slowly -- half a memory told in one chapter, a reference to some important battle somewhere else -- and the reader is left hungry for more. I distinctly remember wishing for a series of prequels about Robert's Rebellion (although that might be asking a bit much, as Martin has yet to finish the actual Song of Fire and Ice series).
Ultimately, the lesson I learned is that a story doesn't have to begin on the FIRST day. I can start writing in the middle of an adventure, and trust in the patience of my readers to give me enough time to fill in the blanks. Rationing out this history in carefully proportioned revelations may even prove more satisfying in the end. Writing any story with a rich history (even if that history remains hidden for a time from the reader) lends a gravity to all the characters and their choices. The reader will understand the characters BECAUSE of that history, and in my own experience with A Song of Fire and Ice, that's a very satisfying experience, indeed.
Now I only need to sell that to HBO.