While George R. R. Martin is one of the greatest fantasy writers in the 2010’s, who brought relevance to the fantasy genre which had usually been looked upon as a niche genre, there is no doubt that he made mistakes throughout his time writing the installments of the Song of Ice and Fire.
1. Not keeping details consistent when they need to be
This can easily be forgivable since the details are minor, such as the eye color and the gender of a horse. Though it is clearly a sign that Martin is not in complete control over the legendarium that he created.
2. Too much emphasis on the show adaptation
While Martin himself directed a couple of episodes of the Game of Thrones series, he did assume the role as a show creator and not as an author. In other words, he seemed more intent on showcasing his work as associated more with the television show and less on the books themselves. While he had bluntly made clear that he would not answer questions about the fifth book, Martin did focus more time on spreading word about the show in many interviews than in writing the books.
3. Too high expectations
This is relevant whenever he proposes a deadline to the publication date of the fifth book in his “Song of Ice and Fire” series. There have been numerous dates that have been pushed back as soon as they come.
I can definitely see how this would disenchant the readers, giving them no guarantee of the series being finished.
4. Not establishing the mythopoeia outside Westeros beforehand
While J. R. R. Tolkien wrote the legends and linguistics of Middle Earth in the Silmarillions, George R. R. Martin seemed to be focused more intently on the worldbuilding outside of Westeros when HBO approached him about the maps. Although he did say that writing the fictional cartography was fun, it definitely ate away at his time managing all the other projects.
While Martin may be admirable for tackling many writing and non-writing projects, including restoring a film theater, editing the Wild Card series, writing companion books for his fantasy series, and doing interviews all over the world; they can definitely add more stress than it is needed. Not only that, but there is not a narrowed focus into at least one of the projects, one of the most important being the actual book series.
6. Not finishing the book series BEFORE the television deal
The disappointing ending of Game of Thrones highlights this point exactly, since it could have been easily avoided if Martin had finished the book series before working with Dan Weiss and David Benioff.
It is tempting to say that Dan Weiss and David Benioff were greedy for cutting the series short, however I honestly think that a greedy person would continue overstaying a series’ welcome by producing five additional seasons with constant audience gratification in every episode, to the point when the suspense no longer means anything since there is not much at stake and everyone is guaranteed a happy ending.
David and Dan were only following their natural instincts as directors and coming to terms with the reality that Martin did not provide them with two mammoth installments for them to work on so they had to end the shows as succinctly as possible.
In order to prevent issues like this, it is important for authors to complete the book series before they are offered a television or movie deal, because that completion would grant them enough authority over the direction of the filmed series.
Doctorow, Cory. “George RR Martin and Robert Silverberg, Hugo awards, Loncon 3, Worldcon, Excel Centre, Docklands, London, UK.” Flickr. Taken on August 17, 2017. CC BY-SA 2.0