If you’re not a Game of Thrones fan (either the books or the series), you may have found yourself somewhat confused by the tirade of anger and aggression that has been sweeping across social media in the last week. With comments ranging from, ‘They are just killing people to shock now’ to ‘That’s it I am never watching Game of Thrones ever again’, everyone seems to have something to say about it.
Now I’m not going to go in to details of the who, what and where because there are doubtlessly countless numbers of article and blogs covering this. However, I am going to make one or two little points that should hopefully bring some hope to any writer who has ever been struggling with the thought that their audience might not like their work…
1. If people are angry, it is a good thing.
As a species, human beings get angry… A LOT.
But it is very rare that we get angry about things we don’t care about. We get angry because someone broke something precious to us. We get angry because someone is misrepresenting us. We get angry because we stubbed our toes and our pride insists that we are too clever to ever do something so stupid.
We do not, however, get angry about things we don’t care about. If I were George R R Martin right now, I’d be rubbing my hands with glee. Not because I’d managed to thoroughly irritate all of my fans, or at least the ones who are willing to take the latest events of GoT at face value, but because I had created a world and characters that people were so invested in that they have collectively taken to social media to vent their frustration.
In fact, I would be more worried about the guy sat quietly in the corner saying, ‘So what? It’s only a story.’ Why? Because I haven’t managed to draw that guy in to my story. He doesn’t feel emotionally involved which means, as a writer, I have failed, if only on an individual level.
So, point number 1, don’t be afraid to make your audience angry.
2. Those who walk away.
I have seen it so much this week. I could probably name dozens of people who have declared on social media that they are never watching/reading Game of Thrones again. Ever. Now, if I was a writer in that situation, I might think I had gone too far.
But, as a casual observer, is there a single fibre of my being that doubts that those who have said that will not end up buying the book when it finally comes out or watching the next series in a year’s time? Nope.
As I said before, those people are emotionally involved. They have committed a huge amount of time into a character or storyline and are unlikely to walk away just because something happened that they don’t like. As a writer you can pull your audience to the brink as long as you let them spring back eventually. You can kill off everyone’s favourite character if you want, provided that you have a really good reason for doing it…
Point number two, if you are going to anger your audience make sure you can justify it.
If you’ve been paying attention, and once you get over the shock of the latest death in the book/series, you will very quickly realise that every death had some sort of purpose. No matter how random they seemed at the time, each death drove the story on a little bit further; each one allowed another important plot point to develop.
And once you realise that, you will eventually come to the conclusion that the last death, which had everyone so horrified, has a purpose as well.
Now I like to think I’ve been paying attention. And there is only one legitimate reason that I can think of for killing such a character at such a time…
Maybe I’ll blog my ideas at a later date. I guess it’ll depend on how many people share this… hint hint.