Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

George R.R. Martin on world-building

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[George R.R. Martin, author of A Song of Ice and Fire] enjoys being surprised by his own work. He thinks of himself as a “gardener”—he has a rough idea of where he’s going but improvises along the way. He sometimes fleshes out only as much of his imaginary world as he needs to make a workable setting for the story. Tolkien was what Martin calls an “architect.” Tolkien created entire languages, mythologies, and histories for Middle-earth long before he wrote the novels set there. Martin told me that many of his fans assume that he is as meticulous a world-builder as Tolkien was. “They write to say, ‘I’m fascinated by the languages. I would like to do a study of High Valyrian'”—an ancient tongue. “‘Could you send me a glossary and a dictionary and the syntax?’ I have to write back and say, ‘I’ve invented seven words of High Valyrian.'”

—Laura Miller, in The New Yorker

Written by nevalalee

April 10, 2011 at 9:14 am

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