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7 Storytelling Lessons from Game of Thrones / ASoIaF


I’m a big fan of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (commonly known by the name of its TV adaptation, Game of Thrones). It boasts a cast of richly complex characters, its setting is one of the most fascinating I’ve encountered, and it’s easily one of the most compelling stories I’ve read.

I’m currently on my second read-through of the books, and I thought I’d share some of the many storytelling lessons I’ve learned from the series. Let’s get to it!

1. History is a great place to draw inspiration.


Image courtesy of Starcasm

George RR Martin has made no secret of how much he’s pulled from history: While the Game of Thrones is being battled by Lannisters and Starks, the War of the Roses was fought by Lancasters and Yorks. Battles from our history and mythology play out in Westoros and Essos—but often with a dash of alchemy, dragons, or dark powers. Even weaponry and technology, like Valyrian steel, is based on mysteries from history, like Damascus steel.

It would be an exhausting process to list all the historical inspirations of the Song of Ice and Fire, but whatever specific instances we make note of, the lesson is clear: History makes for great source material, even in fantasy settings. After all, history was the result of complex conflicts between complex people—and that makes for a pretty compelling narrative.

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Poetry 101: Lyricism

Poetic License

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Assonance and Alliteration

While there are many aspects of lyricism, alliteration and assonance are two of the most important.

Alliteration is when you have a series of words with the same first consonant sound close together, e.g., Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Alliterative words can be right next to each other or a few words apart.

Assonance, like alliteration, has to do with words having similar sounds. With assonance you are looking for similar vowel sounds within the words, e.g., Molly donned a shawl for the fall ball.

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