Writing Tips – George R. R. Martin

George R R Martin

George R R Martin

If you want to write like the best, learn from the best. As of today, you’ll find few writers as accomplished and revered as four-time Hugo Award winner, George R. R. Martin.

For other posts related to Martin’s writing style, click here

But I don’t write Fantasy!

That’s fine, because Martin’s style transcends genre. His method is taking Fantasy in a new direction altogether. Don’t believe me? Just ask HBO. They loved his “A Song of Ice and Fire” series so much, they made a TV show about it.

Martin’s advice is practical, earnest, and applicable to all styles of writing.

On his blog, Martin gives what he believes are the three fundamentals to becoming a successful author.

“The most important thing for any aspiring writer, I think, is to read! And not just the sort of thing you’re trying to write, be that fantasy, SF, comic books, whatever. You need to read everything.”

And don’t just read for fun, read actively. Pay attention, ask questions, and take notes. See what you favorite authors are doing and learn from them.

“Write every day, even if it is only a page or two. The more you write, the better you’ll get… Every writer needs to learn to create his own characters, worlds, and settings.”

Your brain is like a muscle; it needs conditioning and exerise. When trained effectively, the brain becomes capable of amazing things.

Begin with short stories
“Short stories help you learn your craft… And they are still the best way for a young writer to break in… Once you’ve been selling short stories for five years or so, you’ll have built up a name for yourself, and editors will start asking you about that first novel.”

Martin is not the first to say this. Both Ray Bradbury and Stephen King have discussed the importance of short fiction in their lives. Short stories are great for learning the ins and outs of proper storytelling. If you’re new, why bother with writing a 600 page epic right out of the gate? It’s like trying out for the Olympic swim team after your first week of lessons.

Also, of interest – Idea Germs
Fellow author and long-time friend, Lisa Tuttle, claims that Martin writes what she calls “idea germs” to help when searching for new ideas. These files contain “no characters, no plot, no scenes, just the beginnings of something he thought might be worked… into an SF story.” Check out Martin’s website for an example.

George’s Podcast
In October of 2006, Martin conducted eight podcast episodes before the release of “A Feast for Crows.” Episode 3 is specifically geared towards aspiring writers.

You can find them here:

And finally, don’t give up
According to Wikipedia, Martin once had a story rejected forty-two times (by different magazines!). Success takes time and work. Don’t get discouraged, just get better.

And in the words of George R. R. Martin, “Whatever you do, though…Good luck. You’ll need it.”