Simple Advice from George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin

 

I want to be a writer. Can you give me any advice?

A:  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. Read fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers. Read history, historical fiction, biography. Read mystery novels, fantasy, SF, horror, mainstream, literary classics, erotica, adventure, satire. Every writer has something to teach you, for good or ill. (And yes, you can learn from bad books as well as good ones — what not to do)

And write. Write every day, even if it is only a page or two. The more you write, the better you’ll get. But don’t write in my universe, or Tolkien’s, or the Marvel universe, or the Star Trek universe, or any other borrowed background. Every writer needs to learn to create his own characters, worlds, and settings. Using someone else’s world is the lazy way out. If you don’t exercise those “literary muscles,” you’ll never develop them.

Given the realities of today’s market in science fiction and fantasy, I would also suggest that any aspiring writer begin with short stories. These days, I meet far too many young writers who try to start off with a novel right off, or a trilogy, or even a nine-book series. That’s like starting in at rock climbing by tackling Mt. Everest. Short stories help you learn your craft. They are a good place for you to make the mistakes that every beginning writer is going to make. And they are still the best way for a young writer to break in, since the magazines are always hungry for short SF and fantasy stories. 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.

Whatever you do, though… good luck. You’ll need it.

From Wikipedia:

George Raymond Richard Martin (born September 20, 1948), sometimes referred to as GRRM, is an American screenwriter and author of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He is best known for A Song of Ice and Fire, his bestselling series of epic fantasy novels that HBO adapted for their dramatic series Game of Thrones. Martin was selected by Time magazine as one of the “2011 Time 100″, a list of the “most influential people in the world”.

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One thought on “Simple Advice from George R.R. Martin

  1. That’s absolutely excellent advice. But, of course, it would be, wouldn’t it? George knows what he’s doing. He’s a weird little guy, and sometimes I wonder what he’s thinking about when I read his books, but honestly, he’s got the craft down and knows his business. Excellent post, I love reading quotes from Martin.

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