Just finished the last Game of Thrones book (possible spoiler alert)

A lot of good writing in there and some particularly fine character work but did anyone else feel like they were spinning their wheels? Especially in the last two books, "A Feast for Crows" and "A Dance with Dragons." I just read over 2,000 pages and various characters did a lot of things but very little seemed to move the main story forward. And it will be at least a year or more until the next book. I can barely keep track of his hundreds of characters and plot threads as it is. I'm sure in a year I'll have forgotten more than half.

Y'know, I read something by George R.R. Martin back in the seventies, serialized in Analog Magazine as "After the Festival" (I believe it was published in book form as "Dying of the Light.") I remember that it was a great story once it finally got moving but the first 2/3 had a lot of political back and forth that seemed to move very little. Maybe now that he's 5/7 of the way through his story (unless he goes from 7 to 8 or 9 volumes) the story will start to move forward.

I sort of ran into what GRRM is, from the opposite angle.

Here's the thing: GRRM wanted to implement a timeskip. He had events plotted out in his head, an idea of where the story would go, and that included a timeskip at a certain point. That is, he wanted to start one book months or years later, at the start of the next major portion of the story.

But -and I'm not sure if this was self-doubt on his part or pressures from his publisher or pressure from the readers- he didn't end up doing the timeskip.

And now things are dragging on and he's struggling to write (to the extent that it's taking 8+ years between books).

I did a timeskip, but real life circumstances made the writing & implementation a little less graceful than it should have been. I ran into everything that GRRM/his publisher/his readers were worried about. People wondering just what had happened to their favored characters, feeling disconnected from said characters, feeling like it's a different story in tone and style post-skip, feeling like it's rushed, etc, etc.

It's hard, either way.

Mm, time skips, interesting. Wildbow, if you don't mind telling, what were your reasons for doing a time skip? Do you reach a lull in the plot's progression and wanted to speed things along? Or, since it's superhero fiction, maybe you needed certain characters to dramatically grow in power before the story could proceed the way you wanted? Or something else?

While I think time skips are awesome, I feel like the story has to reach a certain point of maturity, first. That, or the readers do. I can definitely see long-running stories benefiting from time skips, simply because its readers are now all much older and want to see similar progression in the lives of the characters. But if the reasons for implementing a time skip are purely narrative and not based on readership feedback, then I can imagine that being a very difficult decision to make--figuring out precisely when you want to go through with it.

It had to do with maintaining tension. If I'd carried on at the pace the story was going at the time, it would have taken another year to finish, at a minimum, and there just wasn't enough of interest to span that period of time. The story would have lost tempo, I'd have had to focus on character & inter-character drama to keep things interesting, which would have meant that things became a bit soap-opera-ish as I reached to find stuff to do to keep it interesting. The possible fights, the crises, they would have been reiterations of things that had come before. The tension I've built over time would have petered out.

Not that it didn't. I wrote the timeskip as a story arc that spanned a 1.5 year period, and I didn't handle it as well as I could have. People wanted more details than I provided, I was rushed (hurrying to get two 8k word chapters scheduled in a 24 hour period before I left for a trip) and a lot of ideas that I had didn't wind up working out when I started putting them on the page, forcing me to default to the next chapter idea. Above all, I didn't signal (in the writing) that the arc was a timeskip arc, and readers were caught off guard and bewildered as they watched the clock fly by in a manner very different from a more day-to-day, week-to-week pacing in previous chapters.

It's something I intend to fix before releasing as an ebook/print book, but that doesn't change the fact that it disappointed readers.

I thought your timeskip was very much needed Wildbow, though it might have been a bit of a surprise and could have gone into a little more detail, overall it was very well positioned in the grand scheme of things. I was really glad it happened when it did. Now you mention it I think Game of Thrones could really have done with one too, it does feel like there are a whole two books of filling space - I can't remember a whole lot of events that happened in them, which isn't a good sign.

I had a timeskip of a few months between Volume I and Volume II of "Safe as Houses." That just sort of happened organically. When I reached the end of my original story, I started to write what I thought was going to be a different story and found that I had more I wanted to tell about Sally and Lavinia. I'm possibly going to have another timeskip at the end of Volume III but that won't be for several weeks. (Yes, I'm actually several weeks ahead! Woo hoo!) I'm not sure yet. I'm sort of bogged down in the end of Volume III and am just leaping into Volume IV to the next scene I feel drawn to. I'll smooth out all the rough ends (I pray) before publishing. (And I'll do my best about typos too...)

A timeskip might have helped Martin. But I think the biggest thing is he's just lost his way in all the (quite well drawn) characters and their small (and often very moving) stories. Reading the last two volumes, I had a mental image of a river getting closer and closer to the sea but moving slower, getting more silted up and finally dissolving into a hundred winding channels...

I haven't read GoT, but your perspectives on time skips are fascinating. I never really thought of it being an issue in and of itself if there was a skip in time, as long as it was done in an interesting way. Easier said than done, right?

Wildbow I'm glad I'm not the only one that disappointed readers. It wasn't because of a time skip but because of people acting out of character compared to the rest of the book. I think it was because the two let-down chapters were both written in a rush and less energy were put into them. Anyway, it was the worst feeling in the world. I will inevitably disappoint readers again, I'm sure, but I'm avoiding it like the plague from now on.

I pretty much try to ignore everything happening in Dorne, and that makes it a bit easier for me.

The series starts out ok, gets complicated in a good way, then turns into an eldritch horror with a thousand tentacles, er, characters threads.

Yep, "complicated in a good way" through, I'd say, the end of the third book.

May we all achieve Martin's level of fame and fortune and when that happens, may we be blessed with editors (or true friends) who will say unto us, "Dude, you need to lose about a thousand pages here..."