Game of Thrones: The Door and Thoughts

Warning! Warning! This post is full of spoilers and thoughts and conjecture.

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There I have warned you.

Ghost.png

I have a complicated relationship with Game of Thrones. It has been this way since I first binge watched it years ago. I love Jon Snow with the fire of a thousand suns. Daenerys is my home girl. I have been on Sansa’s side for longer than most because I’m a girl often underestimated, too. Arya is a badass I could totally hang with. Tyrion is my drinking buddy. I get irritated when the showrunners resort to sensationalism. That whole “Jon Snow is dead” thing, yeah, I was not okay and it is still not okay even though he’s back.

My trust is broken. My devotion still very real.

I came to GRRM’s world through the show, and even once I read the books the show was my first affection. I never transferred my affections to the books in the same way those who started with the books first like to lord that over our heads.

There is more than one way to be a fan.

The cannon of the show and the cannon of the books are two different beasts. For many seasons the show has diverged and meandered and omitted vast plot elements from the book series. They are not separate beings, but we need to stop making allowances for the show based on what has happened in the books. We have left book territory.

So for the purposes of this blog post, I am not taking into account the cannon as established by GRRM. I speak of show cannon and worldbuilding, and what framework has been created by the showrunners for the finale of this series.

Warg Magic: a study in sloppy world building

Y’all, don’t get grumpy because I sound critical. See above swoonage.

In A Song of Fire and Ice warg magic is explored not only through Bran’s storyline, but through Arya and Jon. In Game of Thrones, we are mostly limited to exploring the warg magic, and it’s boundaries and limitations, through Bran, with the help of Jojen and the Three Eyed Raven. Because of the commercial pacing of the franchise, the length of episodes, and cost of production, trying to fit complicated worldbuilding into fragmented segments of TV can often result in gaps.

bran

Add in the fact that Bran was missing for the entirety of season 5, and we have a recipe for worldbuilding tomfoolery. This season of Game of Thrones has moved at breakneck speed — a fact I am not actually against. However, even with that pacing, for much of the season so far I have felt like the storylines were a bit limp. We have received a lot of information in a very short amount of time, and I think maybe they need to make sure someone is fact checking for them.

In the episode The Door, we are force fed two pieces of warg magic law that the TV viewer had no previous knowledge of.

Bran is touched by the White Walker dude and then apparently that means he has permission to pass through the wards in place around him.

(I don’t think they call the magical barriers wards in GoT, that is just me showing you guys how super cool I am) Is the White Walker now a vampire and this forced touch is his way of gaining permission to enter? For starters, this brings up some consent issues that Game of Thrones already gets wrong. But it is awfully convenient to the plot that this information is revealed too late, thus making the climax possible.

When worldbuilding, do not throw pertinent, potentially perspective altering information in a line of dialog right before it happens on screen/the page. It is actually possible to skillfully feather in a magical principle and still maintain dramatic tension. Throwing it at your audience (and the character), right before it is necessary is just lazy. Coming up with an active way for Bran to be touched by the White Walker even though he knows the risk would have also given him an active role in the horrific events of the climax.

Bran can warg into a body in the past. 

Bran affects the timeline through his power. Beyond that one brief second at the Tower of Joy, we had no previous clue that Bran was actually even in the literal past. To me, the visions felt very much like Harry’s trips into the pensive, which he could not alter in any way.

The revelation that he can kind of be heard is the first clue that he might actually be going into the past, though raises the question of if he is in the past what physical plane is Bran on when he is warging? It’s not the same plane as the others because they can’t see him. Is he like an apparition? Apparitions historically struggle with interacting with the physical plan. (re: All the Ghost Movies)

There is either a plothole here or they need to establish the law he uses to make this magic possible. Since it wasn’t established fully, and now the Three Eyed Raven is smokey feathers, how will they answer this question?

Though, one thing that I appreciate about this revelation is the immediate consequence to this complicated magic, which I will discuss below in more detail.

The loss of Hodor and Osha, Shaggydog and Summer

Thus far the show has done little with any of the direwolves besides Ghost. Nymeria is off gods knows where, maybe gathering an army of woodland creatures to her side, maybe dead. Summer was with Bran, but after his badass role in season one, he has largely remained in the background if he is featured at all. This feels like a missed opportunity or a budget issue. Either way, it kind of blows.

Shaggydog: They gave us his bloody head.

SummerS3

Summer: I don’t care for symbolism, first of all. Secondly, no. Third, Summer is a hero and a saint and though he died a heroes death it felt like little more than a budget cut. I am not pleased. Do better.

Osha: After everything she has done for the Stark family, the showrunners just decided to give her to Ramsey Bolton. To call this a waste of a good character is an understatement. Osha could have easily had a life beyond that moment, and played all kinds of games to continue to help the Stark children. But they let Ramsey kill her. RAMSEY.

Hodor: About sixty seconds before he switched from “Hold the door” to “Hodor” I threw the pillow across the room and yelled profanity because I realized what was happening.  Yet, to me, this moment was well earned. Hodor, a hero in the quietest and most valiant ways, was given the honor of a heroes death. But unlike Summer’s death, I believe Hodor came to the natural end of his character’s journey.

Worldbuilding issues aside, anger and sadness not withstanding, this was the way for him to go. It taught us something (or at the very least raised an interesting question), and though he has always been brave and well-liked, gave us one of the least senseless deaths of this series thus far.

It is painful to think about the reality they are trying to prove here: that Willis lost his mind as a child because of a battle in the future. That Bran was the cause.

Though I do wonder about the consequence of Bran having been in the mind of someone that died — since the consequence for young Willis was the loss of his mind — I can set that aside and appreciate the fact that Hodor died well — just as he lived, in the service of House Stark.

RIP Hodor. May the Lord of Light shine upon you.

hodor

Sansa giving it to Littlefinger

“I can still feel it in my body standing here right now.”

She spoke the words of a woman who had been traumatized, but never turned victim. This moment was beautiful and powerful and marred only by her later lie to Jon because it proves she still kind of trusts Littlfinger, and come on Sansa you are better than that. I cannot decide if this is a failing on the writers part, or a character weakness, and it is like.

Still, allowing her a moment to vocalize her disgust and give it a name was a stellar moment for this series. So often, they do not take the time to give enough emotional weight to the characters traumas. Yes, this is a fantasy, but one of the brilliant things fantasy can do is speak to complicated world and human issues with honesty.

I do not want to see a penis shot ever

Dear Showrunners that are Male,

Flaccid penises are not photogenic. Accept it. Move on. Please do not show them to us as an alternate to female nudity and pretend to understand feminism. We don’t want it. You do not get it. Lets agree to disagree and cut our losses.

Sincerely, Females with Eyes

Jon Snow’s Journey

jon

I am grateful to have him back. But…

Magic always has a price. There must be a consequence that reflects the degree this magic influences the natural world. That the price is not being examined (yet) for Jon’s resurrection is a little bothersome. What was the exchange for his life? Is there no consequence because supposedly the Lord of Light brought him back? Does that mean the Lord of Light is real? Are they taking a religious stance?

This season has dealt in heavy doses of magic. Yes, Game of Thrones in a fantasy and magic has always had it’s place in the world, but less so in the TV series than in the books. If we are going by what we see on screen, then there is a lot left to be explained. Worldbuilding is tricky. And walking the line between allowing magic to turn into a plot device, a way out of sticky situations, a way to reveal information, and integrating into the plot so that it works for you and not against you is hard.

For Jon, we have seen an undercurrent of rage growing throughout this season. What that will lead to, we can only hope is his own chain breaking, heroism and the discovery of his true identity.

Final Thoughts

Euron is an idiot. Notable quotes that prove this:

Whatever he said about marrying Danaerys

That bit about his cock

When he wanted 1000 ships from like ten guys

That he will give them the world. 


Game of Thrones continues to break my heart and enrage my mind. I don’t enjoy it, but I look forward to it every week. I don’t trust the showrunners, but I continue to invest in their product.

Great storytelling is accomplished when your reader or viewer walks away from your story thinking. Game of Thrones makes me think, and dissect, and for that (and for Jon Snow) I am thankful.

 

Ready. Set. Write! Update #7

RSWStripe2

Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Last Weeks Goals:

1. Finish the book I am reading right now and start another one.

Done!

2. Revise three chapters.

Done! 

3. Write 8 screenplay pages.

Fail. I didn’t have time this week, and I was focused on my revision. This week I hope to make time for the screenplay. I did think about scenes I need to write, and figure out a big change I want to make in the pages I’ve already got. 

4. Do something fun on Friday with my son, just us.

We went on a date to Panera (Sam LOVES the mac’n’cheese and cookies!) and the movies. 

A favorite line from my story or one word or phrase that sums up what I wrote or revised:

(This is from a flashback)

It was a full moon night. It was a mischief night.

I woke to a hand over my mouth.

“Come on,” his voice was a whisper. He moved his hand and tucked a lock of curly hair behind his ear. He refused to braid his hair like the other boys did when they turned thirteen cycles, instead it grew long and curly, and he trimmed it with a knife.

Uncle Talin hated it. I loved it.

“I’m sleeping. And I don’t know if I want to go wherever you’re going.” I whispered, pinching my eyes closed.

“The waterfall,” he paused, waiting for me to look at him. I opened my eyes, but didn’t turn over yet. “The Kumu’s say if you jump from the top on a full moon you see the face of the one you’re meant to marry.”

Biggest Challenge:

Time and the desire to soak up the summer with my son. He starts Kindergarten in three weeks, which is insane and as excited as I am for this new phase, I am also sad.

Something I love about my WiP:

This revision is coming slowly, but much more cohesive. I am beginning to really see how to write a trilogy, to learn what to give the reader, what to hold onto, what to hint at. This WiP really is the first in a trilogy.

This Weeks Goals:

1. Revise three chapters

2. Rewrite the scenes in my screenplay and add three more.

3. Read 100 pages on a manuscript I’m beta reading.

 

Ready. Set. Write! Update #6

RSWCoffee

Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

I missed last week because I had just arrived in NYC and forgot! But I set some goals on my What’s Up Wednesday post.

Last Weeks Goals:

1. Enjoy this moment.

~ This was a serious goal for me. I am not good at in the moment living. I managed it well I think. 

2. Think about writing.

~ So much. I did some revising too. Went to a cafe, had a bagel, and actually wrote a whole new chapter. Also, saw writing friends which aided in the inspiration. 

3. Be in love with my characters. Be in love with this city. Be in love with my husband.

~ Yes to all of the above. But very glad to be home with my kid. 

A favorite line from my story or one word or phrase that sums up what I wrote or revised:

He brushed his thumb across my knuckles. “It is everything to both of you,” he paused, moving his hand up my arm to squeeze my shoulder. “It shouldn’t be.”

Biggest Challenge:

Myself. In my own way and stubborn.

Something I love about my WiP:

That the book I want to write is in there, that I know what that book is, and that I can see how to shape it.

This Weeks Goals:

1. Finish the book I am reading right now and start another one.

2. Revise three chapters.

3. Write 8 screenplay pages.

4. Do something fun on Friday with my son, just us.

 

What’s Up Wedesday

TreeWUWWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime or Erin’s blog.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done What’s up Wednesday! I hope everyone is having a wonderfully epic summer.

What I’m Reading

Currently doing beta reading. Which is top priority for reading right now as I have a lot to get caught up on and very little reading time this summer. I also started If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and so far am loving it. I haven’t read anything by Gayle Forman yet, but have heard nothing but good things. And with the upcoming movie, I thought I’d start there!

What I’m Writing

I’ve been working on a feature length screenplay pretty much exclusively for the past two weeks. I am over 1/3 of the way through and just so very happy with it. The dialog, which is maybe the most important thing in screenwriting, is coming really naturally. I am taking this to mean I have a firm grasp on my characters. Right now I am just working on the main plot lines, and getting the basic story down. I had some breakthrough figuring out how all the main plot lines will converge at the end yesterday, which was THRILLING.

What Inspires Me

This may sound very strange, but my brother and his family. Three years ago, right before my husband and I moved to Brooklyn, my brother, his wife and young daughter moved to Israel. Right now, they are right in the middle of war in a foreign country. Their faith and bravery to stay in their home in Jerusalem in the midst of this chaos is incredible. Your thoughts and prayers for the peace of that nation are appreciated, personally, by me and my family. This is a terrifying time, it is meant to unsettle and unnerve, to get those who live there out of safety and into harms way. War does that, is touches the innocent and the foolhardy alike. When the war is over the land, over faith and long standing hatred, there are no winners. There can’t be.

What Else I’m Up To

Everything that is involved in having an epic summer with my son.

Also. I got New Hair (that is what all the kids at Sam’s school call it) and Sam asked me what “the hair color doctor” had to do to give me this hair. I explained it was a lot like painting.

new hair

Have a wonderful Wednesday! And drop by comments to tell me what’s up with you!

Ready. Set. Write! Update #4

RSWCoffee

Ready. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Last Weeks Goals:

1. Screenplay – 15 pages

~ Done! I am 43 pages into this SCREENPLAY and it is right where I want it to be plot wise. So exciting. Also, remembering how hard writing screenplays are. You have to come at the story in a very different way than writing a novel. 

2. Beta Reading – ONE MS

~Ugh. I read about 50 pages on an MS and 20 pages on another. Do not take this as me not enjoying the reading, I AM!! It is just slow going right now. 

A favorite line from my story or one word or phrase that sums up what I wrote or revised:

Simon and Alexa emerge. Alexa has her iPad out and is
filming Simon.

ALEXA
B-role.

SIMON
Did you grab the waters?

He faces her as he shuts the door.

ALEXA
(Turns camera to self)
Backpack.

Turns camera to Simon.

SIMON
Granola bars and other sustenance?

ALEXA
(Camera to self)
Loaded up like a hobbit on her way
to Mordor.

Biggest Challenge:

Not having a lot of down time to read. Exhaustion.

Something I love about my WiP:

Sometimes you have an idea for a story and you start writing it and it just doesn’t work like you expected it to. This Screenplay is working better than I anticipated. So. Excited.

This weeks goals: 

1. Write 15 Screenplay pages.

2. Read 100 more beta pages.

3. Continue having an Epic Summer with Sam. (This is one goal I have had no problem achieving so far!)

 

My Ready. Set. Write! Goals

RSWCoffeeReady. Set. WRITE! is an online writing intensive to help stay accountable with your writing goals over the summer and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on whether planning, drafting, or revising! Your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and Katy Upperman. Find the rest of the details HERE.

Today is all about setting goals for yourself. Here are mine:

1. Finish a draft of my screenplay. I’d like to have it off to some readers for feedback by the middle of July.

2. Finish a draft for a TV pilot and send off to readers.

3. Begin work on the sequels to both YA manuscripts, as well as further polishing and revisions on the first books, as needed. I would like to have a few chapters written and the books plotted (although, my plotting is pretty loose when drafting) by the end of the summer.

5. Read at least one book a week. I’ve been so busy lately, and so tired at night, that reading has been shoved to the back burner. No more!

4. Have an epic summer with my son.

This weeks goals:

1. Finish the few revision points left on my manuscript Of Blood and Promises.

2. Write Five Screenplay pages.

Ready. Set. Write! helped me stay accountable last summer, and I am so thrilled to do it again this year!

What are your goals for summer? 

 

 

 

Week One as a Teacher

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I am doing a writing and acting workshop with a group of local teens. Our first day we attempted to make the elements of Story Arc and Character Arc both interesting and accessible to a group of teenagers whose summer brains are operating at full-force.

Aside: Summer brain is the slush your gray matter changes into over the break from school due to the sweltering heat, the many hours spent playing video games, your transformation into a creature of the night, and all the slushies/Frostys/Acai Berry Bowls you can eat while still not getting your ass up off the couch. Being a teen on summer break was, seriously, the best!

Their brains seemed relatively intact, which made our jobs a lot easier. (And way more fun.) The first thing I learned about teaching teenagers comes from the wisdom of Sun Tzu’s Art of War, and is poorly paraphrased here, by me: Success depends on winning decisive engagements quickly. 

I’ve yet to meet a teen, or a 28-year-old writer spright, with a tolerance for blathering. My co-teacher (who is a more patient person and a highly trained actor) and I divided to conquer. We also talked really fast and tried to make them constantly answer questions so they wouldn’t fall asleep or yank phones out of pockets to Tweet about their lame-ass teachers. We knew they would stay awake, but what we wanted was them to care. Teens, as a rule, can’t openly care. But there are subtle hints they give you that show they do (again, not getting on their phones) and that means you’re winning.

Our second tactic for holding their interest comes from my belief, and strong support for this belief from educators and scientists, that finding a common interest breeds trust. In our breakdown of the story arc, we went through a very popular book and film that every teen in the world has read or seen: The Hunger Games. Whenever we saw interest waning, we brought it back to Katniss. Not only was I thoroughly impressed by their knowledge and understanding of the story, but by their nearly spot on evaluation of the plot based on the formula I had given them for story arc.

When discussing common character arcs, we opened it up for them to try to figure out which films or books followed which arc. And mostly, they nailed it. These exercises proved to me that they were learning, and to them that these skills could result in their own brand of awesomeness. In a story they can actually be proud of. In characters we actually might care about.

The goal of all of this was, of course, not just to gush over The Hunger Games. The goal was to lay a foundation for understanding character and story so that when they began writing their own short-films, they would have knowledge beyond instinct and personal desire to draw from.

We then put the plan into action. My co-teacher played a piece of instrumental music and the kids brainstormed what they saw, or felt, or interpreted from it. Next, we broke them into groups and played another piece of music, giving each group the task of creating a story — with a beginning, middle, and end— to the music.

They attacked the task and all managed to pull together a story — largely consisting of some kind of superhero or galactic battle at either a wedding or dance.

Next week — screen tests and rough drafts. Woo-hoo!