Game of Thrones essential writing advice from 3 of the best moments
Television Writing

Essential writing advice from 3 best Game of Thrones moments

May 23, 2019

I couldn’t let Game of Thrones end without dedicating at least one article to this incredible series. Whether or not you agree with it coming to an end, or how it came to an end, you must agree that there have been some great moments. I pick three of these and illustrate what they teach us in terms of writing advice.

1. The Red Wedding

This was incredible on so many levels. The scene where Rob Stark and company are murdered was shocking and brutal, and could be used to illustrate many elements of good writing, but the one I’m going to pick is PLOT TWISTS THAT WORK.

We all love a good plot twist. The Red Wedding was done so brilliantly because it was completely unexpected. Viewers thought the Stark characters were at a pleasant wedding and that Robb Stark was building bridges with Walder Frey so it came as a surprise. What really made it amazing, though, was that a minute or two before the massacre happened there were hints that something bad was about to happen. Catelyn Stark knew something was wrong. We saw her looking around with worry, and then at the last moment she pulled back Roose’s sleeve and saw he’s wearing chainmail. Then we realise something is going on but it’s too late, and then it’s the terrible inevitability and the brutality of the executions that have us watching in horror and shock.

What also shocked fans is that important characters were being killed off so you watched with disbelief when it happened. It made you realise no-one was safe and therefore upped the tension and the stakes.

2. Hold the Door

The sequence where Hodor holds the door closed so Bran and Meera can escape was poignant and beautifully shown. It illustrates the principle of FORESHADOWING. 

Foreshadowing is is a literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story. Hodor’s name is an example of foreshadowing. His name foreshadows the amazing sequence where he holds the door shut to let Bran and Meera escape.

The thing about foreshadowing is that you have to sow the seeds of whatever it is that you’re foreshadowing earlier in the story. Sometimes much earlier. Hodor makes an entrance as a character early in Season 1 and he is slow-witted from the beginning. It is a terrible poignant irony that he became slow-witted because Bran worged into a scene from Hodor’s past just when Meera was shouting ‘Hold the Door!’ All these things coming together to explain Hodor’s disability at the time it has most significance and poignancy (i.e. Hodor holding the door and dying) makes my head spin with its artistry. 

When including things like this in your story you either need to plan meticulously from the beginning or go back later to write in the seeds of the thing being foreshadowed. 

3. Death of Daenerys

The scene where Jon kills Daenerys in the very final episode illustrates a principle of USING SETTING CHOICE to give GREATER IMPACT AND SIGNIFICANCE to BIG MOMENTS.

The scriptwriters could have set this scene anywhere. But they chose to set it in the ravaged throne room where the throne sits untouched in silent mockery. It’s the perfect place to set this scene.  Jon finds Daenerys alone in the ruins of the keep she has longed to possess. It is finally hers but it is destroyed. Everything is covered in ashes. She has coveted the iron throne for so long but it is a hollow victory. She is queen of death and ashes. Jon killing Daenerys is given greater impact because he kills her in front of the throne that has cost her everything.

I’m going to throw in a bonus writing tip now! because this scene also illustrates another principle of writing, namely SYMBOLISM. In a hugely symbolic move, notice how Daenerys is dressed in black in this episode, when before she was always in white. She is no longer a force for good; she has crossed the line into evil. Another hugely symbolic act occurs when Drogon the dragon melts the iron throne. The throne is the symbol of everything that has gone wrong with Daenerys. These include her lust for power,  and the greed and madness that precipitated her death.

To relive more great scenes from Game of Thrones visit these links:

10 Best ‘Game of Thrones’ Moments So Far

Relive the top 10 best ‘Game of Thrones’ moments before the finale

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Do you have any more Game of Thrones writing advice?

Game of Thrones essential writing advice

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