“The script is not the most important thing; the script is the thing.” – Robert A. Berman
George R. R. Martin’s recent comments at C2E2 regarding his current GAME OF THRONES episode script (episode eight) brings to mind once more the most important part of this HBO production: the writing. Casting choices get all the pub, glitz, and glamor; music is wonderful and necessary; costuming, visual design and CGI are all very sexy, indeed (though I would politely pass on seeing Alfie Allen kick a severed head toward us in trendy 3D), and a hefty budget is always good to have …
But the writing is ultimately what will make or break this series. An adaptation loses the burden of plot creation but gains an 800 lb. gorilla in the form of weighty expectations. A Song of Ice and Fire is beloved; few of you would be here without a strong attachment to Martin’s books, and while many of us can disagree on what will make the series a great one, we can all pretty much agree on a shared hope of mind-blowing, gut-wrenching, heart-piercing success.
Dave, D.B., Jane, Bryan, and of course George have been tasked with the actual writing, getting this thing off the ground, pleasing the rabid fanbase whilst* creating something that will more importantly entice and hold a mainstream audience. HBO has given them seemingly simple parameters: adapt the story told in A Game of Thrones in ten 1-hour episodes.
Hell, that’s easy, right? Not much of a gauntlet; The Fellowship of the Ring had a lot less page space than we’re being given.
But not so fast. What is non-vital, exactly? George recently mentioned Peter Jackson’s trilogy as inspiration, but where do we find the Tom Bombadil of this series? That’s not the easiest thing to quantify. Discussions have already raged hot and heavy regarding what might be cut from the show; vital characters like Renly Baratheon have been mentioned alongside the seemingly innocuous Old Nan, readied by you for the proverbial chopping block. And what scenes might be tossed? Epiphany-producing scenes like Bran’s three-eyed crow dreams have been thought by some to be “cheesy,” or worse, unnecessary.
Apples, oranges; Peter, Paul; we’ve heard it all. So we here at Winter Is Coming have decided to throw the proverbial gauntlet back at you, the fans and future viewers of GAME OF THRONES: we want you to do the damned outline yourselves.
Fire And Blood: I have, as faithfully as I could, recreated A Game of Thrones in a scene outline format. I have omitted virtually nothing from the book; every scene and nearly every named character from A Game of Thrones have been included, with only the most minimal license given where I considered it absolutely necessary. I have added my best approximation of the minimum amount of pages I believe will be needed in adapting each scene, but these approximations are just that–approximations–and I may, of course, be wrong. That’s up to you all to decide.
Here is my season 1 outline, minus episode 1 (we already know its contents from the leaked pilot script).
The Game: recreate the MOST LIKELY script outline for each episode. Keep in mind a typical script will need to be around 60 pages, barring a surprise 2-hour season finale (I wouldn’t recommend it). Don’t be afraid to chop my offered scenes in half, or play around with ‘em to make them work; this is NOT an official outline by any stretch of the imagination, it’s your artistic vision based on the book. I’m curious to see what we come up with.
Keep in mind a few hard, fast rules: 1. Try not to split scenes where the word CONTINUOUS is used as a part of the scene heading, as it’s continuing directly from the previous scene. 2. Do not begin an episode with a character you will not return to at some point later in that episode. Yes, GAME OF THRONES will be a series with many different characters and varying locations, but think of each episode as a mini-arc all its own, each with its own story-within-a-story to tell. An episode that begins with Bran exclaiming “His name is Summer” needs to return to Bran at some other point in the episode.
Do the entire season if you want, but don’t post it yet. Newcomers to Winter Is Coming can find my outline of episode 2 here, as well as Winter’s outline for episode 3 here. Feel free to do your own versions of episodes 2 and 3 and post them in the appropriate thread as well.
In a few days’ time I will begin a new article titled SCRIPTING EPISODE 4, wherein I will offer my vision of the episode and we will discuss what many of you think we’ll see there. Perhaps a month later we’ll get to episode 5, then 6, etc. You get the picture.
I challenge our gentle readers to think outside the box, to see what you can come up with as the most logical way to tell a gripping, entertaining story. Feel free to add scenes you think might fit, or to subtract scenes–and even characters. If you think the roles of Shagga, Conn, Timmett, Ulf, and Chella can all be played by the same mountain clansman … hey. More power to you. Maybe you don’t even find them necessary.
When the show hits in spring of 2011, it will be interesting to see who gets closest to the finalized product.