“No one gets to abuse the people of Westeros but me.” – George R.R. Martin on fan fiction.

It’s nine o’clock. After rising from bed, you place your signature flat, short-brimmed cap on your head, give your resplendent peppered beard a dutiful stroke, and turn on the coffee maker. Soon, the brew drips through to the pot below, and you look to it greedily. Black and bitter, the best way to enjoy almost anything.

The phone rings. It’s HBO, and they have some distressing news.

As of season three, Game of Thrones is reaching more fans through the television show than the books, and with season four premiering this weekend, the network is getting worried. It’s not just about the time it’s taking for you to come up with more source material any more. It’s what that material contains.

“We don’t want to commit anymore time or money to this if it’s not going somewhere we can trust to be successful, George,” the executive tells you. “You’re no Spring chicken, and Winter is coming. We need an ending. Now. This thing is too popular to risk to with your whims and ‘dancing’ deadlines. The PR nightmare of having to devolve the series into a prequel arc while you get your act together would be disastrous for the network. Send us an outline before the day is out, or we’re pulling the proverbial plug.”

The man hangs up the phone, and you slowly place your coffee mug back on the counter. Well, you think, if there are more people watching the show than reading the books, I suppose I could pick up wherever the show left off and ignore all of that Dance With Dragons nonsense. There are two things my fans like, so I just need to balance them properly to be successful: total fan service, and total wrenching tragedy. If the mix is right, there’s no way it can fail.

You grab your trusty pen and journal, and waste no time getting to work on what you’re sure is going to be the Best. Game of Thrones Book. Ever.

Okay, let’s start with something fresh: A dynamic new character to draw people back into the universe. It should be a …


woman.


man.

He’ll have a lot of interesting happenings to deal with there. Let’s get to describing him in great, vivid detail. A good character also deals with conflict, so what’s his? You’ve got two ideas kicking about.


I could go with this one …

Born in the Vale of Arryn as an identical twin, he spent most of his days as a fishmonger trying to make enough money to support his ailing mother. When fired for a theft he didn’t commit, and faced with the impending death of his mother, he became what he never had been and stole from the local magistrate to purchase medicine. His brother was then mistakenly captured and executed for the crime, just before he could admit to it and explain the mistake. Now, though a successful merchant enjoying the luxuries he was never afforded as a child, he still sees the face of his dead twin brother in every passing reflection.


Or perhaps …

Unlucky in love for all his life, at the age of twenty he finally finds a woman he considers a potential soul mate. The wedding was as beautiful as it was expensive, and the next day he woke to find nearly everything of value in his possession gone, along with his new wife. Without the ability to trust again, he became a justice of the state, famous for delivering harsher sentences than any of his peers. One day, years later, the woman who’d betrayed him appears in his court for the same crime, but done to another man. He doesn’t understand why, but she’s the first light sentence he’s been able to pass in his career. At the age of sixty, he has finally learned forgiveness.

Great, she’ll have a lot of interesting happenings to deal with there. Let’s get to describing her in great, vivid detail. A good character also deals with conflict, so what’s hers? You’ve got two ideas kicking about.


I could go with this one …

Born in the Vale of Arryn as an identical twin, she spent most of her days as a fishmonger, trying to make enough money to support her ailing father. When fired for a theft she didn’t commit, and faced with the impending death of her father, she became what she had never been, and stole from the local magistrate to purchase medicine. Her sister was then mistakenly captured and executed for the crime, just before she could admit to it and explain the mistake. Now, though a successful merchant enjoying the luxuries she was never afforded as a child, she still sees the face of her dead twin sister in every passing reflection


Or perhaps this one instead …

Unlucky in love for all her life, at the age of twenty, she finally finds a man she considers a soul mate. The wedding was as beautiful as it was expensive, and the next day she woke to find nearly everything of value in her possession gone, along with her new husband. Without the ability to trust again, she became a justice of the state, famous for delivering harsher sentences than any of her peers. One day, years later, the man who’d betrayed her appears in her court for the same crime, but done to another woman. She doesn’t understand why, but he’s the first light sentence he’s been able to pass in her career. At the age of sixty, she has finally learned forgiveness.

Wow, that really tugs at the heartstrings! Time to seal the deal on this character by making the readers get really attached to him.


He secretly donates a quarter of his earnings to the local orphanage.


He spends a good portion of each week mentoring a young pickpocket in an honorable trade.

Wow, that really tugs at the heartstrings! Time to seal the deal on this character by making the readers get really attached to her.


She secretly donates a quarter of her earnings to the local orphanage.


She spends a good portion of each week mentoring a young pickpocket in an honorable trade.

You’re really starting to see a clear picture of this character, really getting to know him, like really know him, and you’re sure the readers will too. Your final task is to give him a role in the world of Game of Thrones, something that makes all of this development worthwhile.


He has royal blood, though doesn’t know it.


He has a mysterious magical gift that’s just now beginning to emerge.

You’re really starting to see a clear picture of this character, really getting to know her, like really know her, and you’re sure the readers will too. Your final task is to give her a role in the world of Game of Thrones, something that makes all of this development worthwhile.


She has royal blood, though doesn’t know it.


She has a mysterious magical gift that’s just now beginning to emerge.

Three hours pass, and you’ve finished mapping your newest character. You’ve written an outline for three chapters told from his point of view, in which the readers will come to know him, admire him, and if you’re lucky, even make a few memes out of him to pass around on Twitter. In short, this character is fantastic.

Obviously, you’ll need to kill him.


He slips while walking over a bridge and dies.


He’s poisoned by a character you’ll introduce a page ahead of time, then never reference again.

Three hours pass, and you’ve finished mapping your newest character. You’ve written an outline for three chapters told from her point of view, in which the readers will come to know her, admire her, and if you’re lucky, even make a few memes out of her to pass around on Twitter. In short, this character is fantastic.

Obviously, you’ll need to kill her.


She slips while walking over a bridge and dies.


She’s poisoned by a character you’ll introduce a page ahead of time, then never reference again.

Your newly developed character is dead because why not, and your readers will be eating this stuff up like Thanksgiving dinner. It’s time for some hard-hitting narrative to follow it up. You’ve written no fewer than thirty-one POV chapter characters in the series thus far, but there’s no space to finish writing most of them now.

You’ll need to stick only to the fan favorites for this last book if you want it to be the best entry yet. Based on a Facebook poll your wife showed you, that seems to mean Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Daenerys.

Tyrion is as good a place to start as any.


Begin the chapter, “TYRION.”

Tyrion 3

How to start … how to start … Okay, you think, what do people like about Tyrion? You make a list to compile your thoughts.

THINGS PEOPLE LIKE ABOUT TYRION

1. He loves the ladies.
2. The ladies love him.
3. He’s a short one.
4. He communicates primarily through witticisms and rudeness.

Using your research, the perfect scene begins to form in your mind: Tyrion is in his room at King’s Landing. Varys knocks, and is told to go away.

“Of course you know I would never dare disturb you if it wasn’t of the utmost importance,” Varys says coolly through the door.

“Fine, fine,” Tyrion replies, the words drawn out as if just speaking them is an agony.

Varys opens the door, and two nude women clutching their breasts shuffle past him giggling. He tries to speak, but before he can, Tyrion holds up a hand, signaling for him to wait. A moment later, a third woman shuffles by.

You can’t help but smile at your notes. This is hilarious already. What a little cad!

Tyrion makes a joke about Varys being a eunuch and not understanding, while trying to reach for some wine that’s up too high on the table.

Varys eyes the wine and says,


“We all have our … shortcomings, master Tyrion.”


“All the more reason a wise man should never dull the … few gifts he may possess, wouldn’t you agree?”

Daenerys 1

You’ve achieved many wonderful things as an author, but none quite so pronounced as the invention of Daenerys Targaryen. Never before in literature has a character managed to be just as presently irrelevant as she is irrelevantly present. She’s consistently synonymous with the idea of build-up, persistently removed from the idea of pay-off, and the very definition of unsatisfiable expectation. Readers desire for Daenerys to interact with the greater world of your characters perhaps more than anything else in your books. Until now, you’ve found great pleasure in denying them. Today, as you pen your final book, you’ll be forced to give in.

The primary instrument by which you’ve kept Daenerys from Westeros are her three small dragons. Until they’re grown, who could or would expect her to interact with the plot in a relevant way? They’ve served you well as a convenient leash until today, but now must be removed.

It’s time for Daenerys’ patience to wear as thin as the readers’, and get her keister across the ocean. To do that, you can introduce one of a couple plots you’ve been considering in your head.

Daenerys will go about growing her dragons to full size by means of…


A covetous merchant willing to craft a serum capable of accelerating their growth.


A cunning witch willing to take her into the underworld to seek out the spirits of past dragons.

Jon 1

You take a short break from writing, peacefully clearing your mind by painting small, precious figures of knight miniatures, and then dismembering, melting, or crushing them in various ways. Feeling refreshed, you place the models back onto the large scale battlefield you built in your living room and nod at the devastating scene of destruction you’ve created, proud of your work. It’s time to get back to the outline.

Okay, Jon Snow. You see what he’d likely be doing in your mind: He’s standing in a meeting, a small council of the Night’s Watch. Rangers have given reports of the walkers approaching and a decision must be made. Whichever path you choose will help to determine the final fate of his order.


Recall 100% of Watch members and head north in a massive army, dedicated to finding the source of the walkers and eradicating it.


Recall 100% of Watch members and place them defensively along Jon’s section of the Wall, prepared to make an epic last line of defense.

Tyrion Wine

“Out with it, Varys,” Tyrion says, cocking an eyebrow. “You did not come to parry wits with me. Come. Say what you have come to say and be gone with you.”

“There have been … disturbing tales sung from the north,” Varys says. “My little birds tell me of a great host, one that King’s Landing and the rest of Westeros has been more than quite blind to. Have you heard stories of these so-called white walkers?”

“Of course,” Tyrion replies. “I’ve also heard of Betsy from Narvos, the triple-breasted whore with lungs so ironed and oiled that she could suck a dire wolf’s testicle up through a drinking straw.”

“These walkers, as they are called, are no such salacious fantasy. They’re real, and they’re about to cross the wall. You’ve seen the Watch, you’ve seen how anemic they’ve become. They will not hold these aggressors at bay, and when these dead men cross south past the now-unguarded land of the Starks, well, you can see that future as well as any. You cannot stay the Lannisters’ witty imp forever. Not this time.”

It will take a bit more for him to convince Tyrion, but you can add that all in later. For now, it’s time to make your first massive plot development, something to drop those jaws and make people Tweet things like, “No spoilers or anything, but the end of the first Tyrion chapter? Whaaaaat?!? #got”.


Tyrion will leave the Lannisters.


Tyrion will rule the Lannisters.

Daenerys 2

Fueled by that special Daenerys-flavored rage, she mounts Drogon, the largest of her dragons, and flies in a Westerosly direction across the sea to conquer the continent in the name of her dead friend.

You smile. You’re almost there. You’re heading into the final chapter, and you know, you just know that it’s going to live up to every single expectation every single reader has for it. The only problem now is whose chapter heading to place it under? Who deserves to be there for every moment of what you’re sure will go down as the most epic finale of any television show or book ever?

The short answer is no one. This is the perfect time for an all-new character. His name is George.

META!


Begin the chapter “GEORGE”.

Daenerys 2

You’re sure you can come up with a much nastier point in the book for her to find out about this, maybe when she’s just had a personal victory and is feeling great about herself. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Currently unaware of the death, Daenerys mounts Drogon, the largest of her dragons, and flies in a Westerosly direction across the sea to conquer the continent.

You smile. You’re almost there. You’re heading into the final chapter, and you know, you just know it’s going to live up to every single expectation every single reader has for it. The only problem now is whose chapter heading to place it under? Who deserves to be there for every moment of what you’re sure will go down as the most epic finale of any television show or book ever?

The short answer is no one. This is the perfect time for an all-new character. His name is George.

META!


Begin the chapter “GEORGE”.

Daenerys 3

You crack your knuckles, sweep your beard over your left shoulder, and put on your game face. Here we go. The final chapter.

Daenerys arrives in Westeros at, you guessed it, the wall, where Tyrion and Jon Snow have just met. She, of course, knows neither of them. George (our new character who has, at this point, been given eighteen or so pages of description you can come up with later) is there watching the events unfold.

Daenerys, Tyrion, and Jon Snow circle each other (“weapons drawn?” you write in the margin) atop the wall as dragons cry out above them and walkers bellow below them. Suddenly, something breaks the tension.


Things get violent.


Things get sexy.

Jon 2 naked

Suddenly, Jon trips and the edge of his sword, Longclaw, cuts open his leather jerkin. Its scraps fall to the ground, revealing his pale, chisel-cut abs. Unable to contain the yearning unexpectedly bubbling inside of her, Daenerys unwittingly allows a deep, primal moan to escape her mouth. Tyrion is the first to pounce on the opportunity, climbing her dress until his lips can reach hers. As they touch tongues, they suddenly feel a third join the slippery dance: It’s Jon Snow’s.

As the three strip off what’s left of their clothing, Daenerys yells to the sky, a gesture Tyrion and Jon both mistake for an audible release of her palpable pleasure. Instead it was a command to her dragons, who soon swoop down and lift the three humans into the air, allowing them to continue their ménage à trois on dragonback.

Perhaps jealous of their riders’ obvious gratification, the dragons begin a threesome of their own, sibling on sibling-on-sibling in the true Targaryen style. The twisting, squirming sex cloud continues to writhe far above the wall for hours, until a raven with a message tied to its ankle appears to interrupt.

You stop writing and mop the sweat from your brow with front of your sleeve. When did it get so hot in here? Maybe it’s time to change gears. What’s the content of the raven’s message?


Tragedy.


Fan service.

Jon 3

Tyrion attempts to break the tension with a joke, but fails. Daenerys is the first to attack. As she calls to her dragons, Jon tackles her to the ground. Tyrion takes the opportunity to jump on his back and go for a neck snap.

With the three so closely entangled, the dragons have trouble intervening on Daenerys’ behalf.

As the three humans roll around, fighting in the dirt, one of them falls.


OMG it’s Daenerys!


OMG it’s Jon!

Tyrion 3

“Then I will need to cast off the heavy, unflattering shackles of my house, let them rot, and return as a ruler capable of handling this threat in my own right,” Tyrion proclaims.

“A fine plan, my lord, but one question,” Varys says. “How will you leave while retaining your legitimacy? A leader must have followers in order to lead, and a man who turns his back on the legacy of his family is not a man others can easily find cause to follow.”


Varys should handle it by way of shocking treachery, focusing on a plot involving Sansa and Joffrey.


Tyrion should handle it personally by way of an unexpected political maneuver, focusing on a plot involving Bran and Jaime.

Tyrion 3

“I’ve saved this kingdom more times than my alcoholism will let me remember, and all the while have been little more than the butt of a joke and a target of filicide,” Tyrion proclaims. “Well, no longer. I can only continue to protect his country as the lion’s jaws. His claws, his roar. Not his arse.”

“A fine plan, indeed,” Varys replies, “and one I would of course do my best to support. However, taking over the Lannisters is no minor exploit, even for a man of your eminent stature.”

No, it’s not, you think, agreeing with the spymaster. Tyrion is going to need help, either brains or muscle. You’re sure you can rustle up a couple of likable characters to mop up this little plot problem.


He hires subversives. Focus on a plot involving Varys and Littlefinger.


He hires muscle. Focus on a plot involving Brienne and Bronn.

Sansa

Varys should definitely handle this one. The readers love this manipulative spy shtick you’ve got going on and, admittedly, you rarely use it to its full potential.

Okay, let’s see, this sort of scene calls for one dash of the unexpected, and two dashes of revenge fantasy. You tap your pen against your forehead until you come up with the perfect idea.

Arya’s trainer, Syrio, had a brother named Miltos, you write, just as strong, daring, and interesting as his dead sibling. This way, we can leave Syrio dead, and yet still borrow off his popularity!

You’re a flipping genius.

So Miltos, who is totally Syrio (heh heh), is found by Varys, and told to start training Sansa in the art of Braavosi Water Dance swordplay. They montage for a bit, and despite how abhorrently obnoxious Sansa’s character has become, the audience will soon love her for no other reason than she can now put out a candle by swiping it with a sword.

Miltos thinks Sansa is ready, and sends her off to face Joffrey in a duel to the death. Joffrey, being the little pugnacious wiener that you’ve written him to be, accepts the open challenge gladly, eager to have an excuse to kill a young girl because, well, he’s Joffrey and that sort of thing appeals to the Joffreys of the world.

The only question is, should you go the fan service route and let her murderize him, or troll your readers by building up to this epic moment, then letting her die in the process? Either way, you can come back around to how this helps Tyrion later.


Sansa dies.


Joffrey dies.

Bran and Hodor

Tyrion can handle this himself. After all, he’s a warrior, a diplomat, super intelligent, a sensitive lover, and every other likable trait you can think of whenever it’s convenient for your book. And the fans will always, always go along with it. Because it’s Tyrion.

The plan is simple: Summon Bran and present him to Jaime. This is going to seem like it has nothing to do with Tyrion’s goals at first, but then later, when its connection is revealed, people will be super impressed with how clever you are.

Thumbs up.

So, the raven goes out, you write in your journal. Bran comes back to King’s Landing from wherever he’s at these days — you can look that up in your old books later — and Tyrion somehow puts him into a room with Jaime.

Drama time! Jaime is accused of casually defenestrating Bran, and it’s up to Bran to decide how he’ll deal with it. Bran has grown up — no question — but how has he grown up? What will you have him do?


Forgive Jaime. He’s a likable character these days.


Execute Jaime for his crimes.

Joffrey

Okay, Sansa bites it, making all of the prose dedicated to her training a complete waste of everyone’s time. Perfect.

Before moving on, you stop to think on the scene. But Sansa can’t just die, you think. She really really deserved to kill Joffrey, so in order to make this as frustrating as possible for the reader, she has to die in a seriously nasty way.

Eventually you decide that during the battle, Joffrey is about to lose, but then grabs the head of her dead father, shakes it and does a weird impression of him until she cries, then bludgeons her to death with it while laughing. Makes sense.

You circle back to your earlier page of notes. Right! So, that’s where Varys can come in. See, he arranged it so that a procession of guests were to be parading through that section of the palisade at the precise moment of the duel, leaving a large number of witnesses to the king’s heinous act.

Joffrey pulls his “I’m king so whatever” line, and Tyrion follows it with a public appearance in which he prattles on about how abhorrent he finds Joffrey, and how it pains him but he must now leave the lion behind. The people cheer him on and, buoyed by their support, Tyrion heads off to the wall to scout out the impending threat to Westeros.

While he’s travelling, you decide to change character. How about one that’s already at the wall?


Begin the chapter “JON”.

Joffrey

As much as you’d like to, you know you can’t troll your audience 100% of the time, and so here and there you have to give them a taste of what they claim to want in postings on Reddit. This is the last book, after all, so what the heck. You’ll give in.

Sansa uses her training to kick the absolute crap out of Joffrey. Adding insult to injury, just as he realizes he’s going to die, Joffrey cries and calls out to his guards and the Hound to save him. No one moves an inch to help.

Sansa smashes the hilt of her sword into the side of Joffrey’s head, knocking off his crown — YEAH! SYMBOLISM! — and denting it inward. Bleeding from his temples, he begs for her mercy. Sansa silently lifts the crown, and for one fleeting moment, Joffrey thinks she’s going to place it back on his regal scalp. And she does. Sort of.

Sansa quickly flips the crown it upside down and places it back onto his head, spikes first. Joffrey calls her a bitch or some such uninspired Joffrey-ism, but it’s too late: her palm slams down on the base of the crown, jamming its ten bejeweled spines through his skull and into his brain.

His limbs do that wiggly after-death thing for a bit as he hits the floor. Yeah, that would be awesome. You draw a small arrow pointing to that bit and notate it such in the margin.

With Joffrey dead, the Lannisters fall into disarray. They turn to Tyrion for help, but instead of aiding them, he publically exposes the horrors of Joffrey’s reign, supports Sansa’s actions, and maintains the goodwill of the citizenry when he officially leaves his house some days later.

With King’s Landing in turmoil, he heads confidently to the North, now ready to scout for whatever threat lies beyond the wall.

You decide to change characters before this gets boring.


Begin the chapter “JON”.

Jaime

Bran tells Hodor to execute Jaime. After all, what would have been the point of taking a reprehensible incest artist and somehow making readers sort of like the guy if you weren’t just going to cut all of that character development short by killing him at a moment’s notice?

Hodor says, well, “Hodor!” — you draw a small cartoon of that in the corner of the page — and thrusts a sword through Jaime’s back. You can add some sort of irony about him being killed by in the same way he killed the old king later when you’re fleshing out the manuscript. For now, The Kingslayer is dead, and Tyrion is placed in charge of explaining the events to the public.

To the surprise of the remaining Lannisters, Tyrion states that he actually agreed with Bran’s decision and calls for the same action against his sister and nephew, backing up the opinion by exposing all of the horrid things both have been involved with.

In the same breath, Tyrion explains that he must leave House Lannister so as not to be associated with such atrocities, and does so with the full support of the public.

With King’s Landing in turmoil, he heads confidently to the North, now ready to scout for whatever threat lies beyond the wall.

Sounds like the perfect time for a POV change!


Begin the chapter “JON”.

Jaime

Stereotypically speaking, magic uses the wisdom attribute, so it’s not too crazy to believe that Bran will be more mature now that he is sometimes a wolf.

You take a sip of coffee, and genius strikes. You love it when that happens, and it happens often.

Okay, so, because you never explain the source of or applications of magic anyway, why not have Bran’s forgiveness trigger something unexpected? Yes, with Bran’s innocent pardon, Jaime’s severed hand grows back in full!

Realizing he’s been on the receiving end of a great miracle, Jaime turns officially good instead of just incessantly flirting with the idea when narratively convenient, and leaves the Lannisters after admitting to his affair with Cersei.

The citizens of King’s Landing realize that Joffrey might be the product of incest, and begin to revolt. Tyrion uses the opportunity to stand against his family with his brother, thereby leaving the lion with the full support of the people.

Sure.

So, with King’s Landing in turmoil, Tyrion heads confidently to the North, now ready to scout for whatever threat lies beyond the wall.

Sounds like the perfect time for a POV change!


Begin the chapter “JON”.

Cersei

“You have contingencies for damn near everything, I’d imagine,” Tyrion says. “Put those birds of yours to work at something more useful than squawking out third-party rumors.”

Varys bows and heads off to scheme with his scheming bro, Littlefinger. These two are, of course, normally at odds, but you know your fans would love to see what they could accomplish by working together. This is your last chance to do it, so what the heck?

It’s time for a little game you like to call “Blame the Beard.” To begin, you write the first three terrible things that come to mind in your notes:

1. Incest
2. Inappropriate euthanasia
3. Genocide

Next, you take a sip of coffee, clean your mouth off with your lengthy facial hair, and see where the excess drips onto the paper when you let it go. You release the hair, and suddenly a large brown splotch appears over the first entry. Incest it is.

So, you’re trying to destroy, kill, or otherwise ruin three characters here: Joffrey, Tywin, and Cersei. Since Joffrey is already tainted by incest, that just leaves only … bingo!

Varys uses his knowledge of anything the plot requires to discover that Tywin goes to the Golden Pony Brothel every Wednesday at eight. He then uses one of his “employees” (a trusted Lannister squire) to deliver a message to Cersei, saying that Jaime wants to continue their affair within the discretion of a brothel’s private quarters … Wednesday at eight.

Littlefinger then acquires said brothel before Wednesday, and when the fateful night occurs, well, strange things can happen in the dark, even between father and daughter.

Sometimes you even gross yourself out, but it feels good.

After a moment of shuttering, you return to your outline. What now?


Inappropriate violence.


Inappropriate romance.

Tywin

The night’s sinful acrobatics are unacceptable to Tywin, and so he knife murders his own daughter with a broken wineglass to bury the shame and eradicate any chance of someone discovering what’s occurred. As he should have expected, however, it was all a set up. There are witnesses not only to the act itself, but also to the subsequent murder. Varys offers him one out: Name Tyrion heir, and allow him to lead the Lannisters.

Faced with no choice, Tywin accepts the blackmail and gives Tyrion the power he requires to face the coming threat. Before he can act, however, he needs to see what he is facing. He packs up and heads for the wall.

While the reader waits for him to get there, why not change the POV to someone already at the wall?


Begin the chapter “JON”.

Brienne

Action, action, action! Game of Thrones was built more on decapitated horses than subtle diplomatic maneuvering. Time for some swordplay.

You consider how best to proceed while doodling a makeshift flipbook in the bottom outer corners of your journal’s pages. It depicts a simple duel between Bronn and Brienne, and soon gives you the perfect idea.

You can work out the kinks later, but the basic idea is this: Joffrey is officially accused of being the product of Cersei’s and Jaime’s reproductive organs by Bronn. Filled by an ego inverse in proportion to his own reproductive organ, Joffrey accepts trial by combat rather than simply dismissing the case in order to quiet this common accusation once and for all.

Joffrey is confident that anyone he asks to stand for him in trial by combat will easily defeat this wiry, unfamiliar man. Before the king chooses, Bronn further requests that he be allowed a second. Joffrey agrees when he sees that Bronn wants Brienne, who is LOLOLOLOL a woman, and therefore obviously poses no threat.

The trial begins and Joffrey names the Hound, who then refuses. Furious, Joffrey names Ilyn Payne, who also refuses. He goes knight by knight, refused by each one until finally realizing he’ll need to fight both Bron and Brienne by himself. The law is the law.

You smile when you consider the outcome of such a fight. After all, it could go one of two ways. Will you…


give your fans what they want…

or


show your fans who’s the boss of this story?

Bronn

You decide to throw the proverbial wrench into the works. It turns out, you write, that Joffrey got wind of this plan ahead of time, knew what was coming, and offered Bronn an incredible amount of money to change sides after Joffrey’s court had been given their chance to show their true loyalty or betray him.

As Brienne goes for the kill on the young king, Bronn unexpectedly jumps in front of her and slices open her belly with a deft upward strike. Joffrey laughs cruelly, and spits on her corpse. Next, he orders Bronn to murder everyone who turned him down in the combat.

Once Bronn has slain the others, Joffrey refuses to pay him, saying that his true reward is having been given the chance to prove his loyalty. This, of course, doesn’t sit well with the mercenary, who proceeds to casually lop off the young teen’s head.

Despite the unforeseen twist, Tyrion publicly takes credit for displacing Joffrey, and soon after is given the reins of the kingdom in his stead. It’s not a permanent solution, but it will be enough to sufficiently guard the realm from whatever is coming across the wall.

Before he can act, however, he needs to see what he is facing. He packs up, and heads for the North. While the reader waits for him to get there, why not change the POV to someone already at the wall?


Begin the chapter “JON”.

Tywin

This is going to be the last and the best Game of Thrones book ever, so you confidently decide to up the crazy to eleven. Though, this is Game of Thrones, so relatively speaking it needs to be more like a twelve.

Just as Varys is about to blackmail the pair into submission, Tywin declares his secret love for Cersei who, having some experience in this arena already, decides that her father is the proto-Jaime, and therefore feels the same way. Without the smallest mote of blackmail to guide them, Tywin and Cersei drop their political aspirations and squirrel away in secret to live out their forbidden love unburdened in Braavos.

Tyrion steps forward as heir, and is finally able to wield the official power he requires to face the coming threat. Before he can act, however, he needs to see what he is facing. He packs up, and heads for the wall.

While the reader waits for him to get there, why not change the POV to someone already at the wall?


Begin the chapter “JON”.

Brienne

Without someone to guard him, Joffrey is completely overwhelmed by the combined might of Brienne and Bronn. In a show of dominance, both drop their weapons and decide to engage him in hand-to-hand combat.

Even armed with his crossbow, Joffrey is unable to score even one scratch on either of his assailants as they glide across the court toward him. Bronn and Brienne both take a wrist, and launch Joffrey toward the ceiling. He cries as he flies through the air until his body crashes back down on top of the Iron Throne, which impales every part of him.

Tyrion publicly takes credit for displacing Joffrey, and soon after, is given the reins of the kingdom in his stead.

Before he can act in the realm’s defense, however, he needs to see what he is facing. He packs up, and heads for the North. While the reader waits for him to get there, why not change the POV to someone already at the Wall?


Begin the chapter “JON”.

Daenerys 3

Daenerys partners with a passing witch against the advice of those around her. She makes the typical stand your readers come to expect from her. You’re sure you’ll write her saying something in a commanding voice about being the khaleesi or something to that effect.

After a spooky ritual that adheres to no rules or traditions of any other instance of magic the readers have ever seen elsewhere in the books (because why start now) Daenerys appears in the underworld. The red and black hellscape unfolds before her, a cavernous mouth with stalagmites for teeth. Somewhere in the distance she sees a figure shrouded in black chasing an unfamiliar man yelling, “Not toooddaaaaaay!”

Suddenly, a bizarre and horrifying creature appears in front of her.

Even though you’re going to have to write this girl into the actual plot at some point, you haven’t yet, meaning you still need to consistently find small ways to remind your reader that she lives in the same universe of every other character. With that in mind, you decide that her guide should be the unborn fetus of Rob Stark’s murdered child.

He explains how he was born and killed of treachery, and how Daenerys must now face a personification of the same. In order to find the ancient dragons, she must first confront…


her dead brother.


her dead lover.

Daenerys 3

Against her better judgment, Daenerys agrees to the serum proposed by the merchant, and asks his fee. Because most other deals you’ve written for her have involved people wanting her dragons, you decide to throw an unexpected curveball instead.

“Free,” the short man says. “But it will require the blood of 10,000 men.”

Daenerys looks back at her Unsullied slave army and considers her options. She wouldn’t be able to bring them on dragon back across the sea anyway…


She does something horrific to the people she knows.


She does something horrific to the people she doesn’t.

Vicerys

You can’t resist the double dip. More so than any reviled character in the whole of your universe, Viserys got what was coming to him. This is exactly why he should still be alive, hanging out in the underworld, ready to make Daenerys’ life a living hell once more.

You take a moment to bust out your villainous laugh. This stuff really gets your heart pumping.

You bring the tip of your pen back to the page. Other authors would let his mere presence be enough. You, being you, must take it one step further. It isn’t just about him being there, it’s about why he is there. What specific misery should he inflict?


Something generally awful.


Something generally grody.

Khal Drogo

The fans could never get enough of Khal Drogo and his sword-wielding, horse-riding, ale-swilling Dothraki bros, and so you just can’t end this story without a final hello (or goodbye, as the case may be).

That being said, this is Game of Thrones, and no pleasure is free. You know in your old, blackened heart that he has to do something pretty terrible to Daenerys in order for the scene to work. Maybe he shows her something…


A disturbing vision of what could have been.


A disturbing vision of what now is.

Unsullied

Daenerys pulls aside Grey Worm and orders him to order his men to slaughter themselves. Without question, Grey Worm delivers the mandate, and Daenerys and Jorah watch as all 10,000 Unsullied begin fighting those around them. Within half an hour, all have died but one. The man nods to Daenerys, and then promptly murders himself.

Daenerys looks to the merchant, obviously impressed by her willingness to comply with his demand. He gives her the potion. Confused, Daenerys inquires as to why 10,000 needed to die if it was already made, and the merchant explains that the deaths were the cost of purchase, not a requirement of the brew. He and the other merchants were worried of an invasion, and the death of her army guaranteed their safety.

Angered by his deception, Daenerys feeds the potion to her dragons, watches them grow to full size, then commands them to destroy the town as the first order of business.

With the dragons full-size, the readers should be getting excited. This is the perfect time to completely change gears for a moment. They’ll call it obnoxious, you’ll call it pacing. And so it goes.

All in all, things have been going a bit too well. This is a great time for someone we care about to randomly die.


An older friend.


A newer friend.

Unsullied

Daenerys pulls aside Grey Worm and orders him to order his men to slaughter everyone in the neighboring town. Without question, Grey Worm delivers the mandate, and two hours later, the Unsullied return from the slaughter covered in the red slimy bits of innocent townfolk.

Daenerys looks to the merchant, obviously impressed by her willingness to comply with his request. He gives her the potion.

Confused, Daenerys inquires as to why 10,000 needed to die if the potion was already made, and the merchant explains that the deaths were the cost of purchase, not a requirement of the brew. He and the other merchants considered the next town over trade competitors, and the death of their population guaranteed a local monopoly.

Angered by his deception, Daenerys feeds the potion to her dragons, watches them grow to full size, then commands them to destroy the merchant’s own town as the first order of business.

With the dragons full-size, the readers should be getting excited. This is the perfect time to completely change gears for a moment. They’ll call it obnoxious, you’ll call it pacing. And so it goes.

All in all, things have been going a bit too well. This is a great time for someone we care about to randomly die.


An older friend.


A newer friend.

Vicerys

Before Viserys will take to her to see the dragons of her ancestors, Daenerys must put up with a full complement of his creepy bro-to-sis sexual innuendo, inappropriate feel-copping, and generally sickening discussion of her breasts, role in the bedroom, and worth as a woman. Just like the good ol’ days.

Once Viserys has had his fill of being vulgar scum, he leads her to the spirits of Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar.

Balerion gobbles up Viserys the moment he sees him in a quick moment of unexpected fan service. Afterward, Daenerys refuses to be intimidated by the dragons, survives some fire or something, and acts confident. Feeling bored, you make a note in the margin for later instead of fleshing out the rest: “Add some more typical Daenerys stuff here.”

The three dragons agree to be reborn into the bodies of her dragons, allowing them to instantly reach full size. Daenerys is transported back into the living world and is pleased to see her three babies the size of elephants.

Wasting no (more) time, she mounts the largest of them, Drogon, and flies in a Westerosly direction across the sea.

You smile. You’re almost there. You’re heading into the final chapter, and you know, you just know it’s going to live up to every single expectation every single reader has for it. The only problem now is whose chapter heading to place it under? Who deserves to be there for every moment of what you’re sure will go down as the most epic finale of any television show or book ever?

The short answer is no one. This is the perfect time for an all-new character. His name is George.

META!


Begin the chapter “GEORGE”.

Vicerys

Viserys offers his sister a deal. He will take her to see the dragons of her ancestors on one condition, that she offers a sacrifice of someone she loves in order to resurrect him. He makes no qualms about what he’ll do once back in the living world. He will fight her tooth and nail to claim the dragons from her, and attempt to conquer Westeros himself.

Seeing no other option, Daenerys agrees to murder Jorah when she gets back. Viserys smiles, pinches her butt inappropriately for old times’ sake, and takes her to the dragons.

Daenerys stands in front of Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar, refusing to be intimidated by them. She talks about her birthright, survives some fire or something, and generally acts confident. Feeling bored, you make a note in the margin for later instead of fleshing out the rest: “Add some more typical Daenerys stuff here.”

The three dragons agree to be reborn into the bodies of her dragons, allowing them to instantly reach full size. Daenerys is transported back into the living world and is pleased to see her three babies the size of elephants.

Wasting no (more) time, she mounts the largest of them, Drogon, and flies in a Westerosly direction across the sea.

You smile. You’re almost there. You’re heading into the final chapter, and you know, you just know it’s going to live up to every single expectation every single reader has for it. The only problem now is whose chapter heading to place it under? Who deserves to be there for every moment of what you’re sure will go down as the most epic finale of any television show or book ever?

The short answer is no one. This is the perfect time for an all-new character. His name is George.

META!


Begin the chapter “GEORGE”.

Khal Drogo

As Daenerys approaches the Khal, she sees him hanging out with a tall, handsome man. You describe him as looking somewhat like Drogo himself, but with pure white hair instead of black. She asks who he is, and the answer doesn’t surprise her.

“This is Rhaego,” Khal tells her.

“Hi, Mom!” Rhaego says.

Rhaego proceeds to tell his mother about how awesome, talented, and gorgeous he is, but how none of that matters because he is dead because of her and now only gets to appear once per year on his birthday. Which is today.

He asks if she brought something to give him. She didn’t. Not even a card? Nope.

Though this is meant to be more of an outline for your final book than full on prose, you take an hour to detail just exactly how this is makes Daenerys feel, whittling out and defining each precious contour of each shattered shard of her broken heart. Your own heart breaks only once the description is finished and there’s no more of it to write.

“Well, anyway,” Khal Drogo says, “let’s go find those dragons you were looking for, honey!”


Go find those dragons you were looking for, honey.

Khal Drogo

To her great surprise, as Daenerys approaches the Khal, she sees another with him: Mirri Maz Duur, the witch who poisoned him. To her even greater surprise, they are making out.

Through the frequent kissing and incessant heavy petting, Daenerys is able to discern that the two found each other in the land of the dead, fell furiously in love, and both consider themselves far better off here than they ever were up above with the living. Daenerys is crushed, but proceeds to ask about the dragons anyway.

Drogo’s new boo absently points west.


She follows the boo.

Daenerys 1

Soon, Daenerys finds herself standing before Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar, refusing to be intimidated by their size and might. She talks about her birthright, survives some fire or something, and generally acts confident. Feeling bored, you make a note in the margin for later instead of fleshing out the rest: “Add some more typical Daenerys stuff here.”

The three dragons agree to be reborn into the bodies of her dragons, allowing them to instantly reach full size. Daenerys is transported back into the living world and is pleased to see her three babies the size of elephants.

Wasting no (more) time, she mounts the largest of them, Drogon, and flies in a Westerosly direction across the sea.

You smile. You’re almost there. You’re heading into the final chapter, and you know, you just know it’s going to live up to every single expectation every single reader has for it. The only problem now is whose chapter heading to place it under? Who deserves to be there for every moment of what you’re sure will go down as the most epic finale of any television show or book ever?

The short answer is no one. This is the perfect time for an all-new character. His name is George.

META!


Begin the chapter “GEORGE”.

DaenerysWithDragon

A mysterious note from someone identifying themselves only as a denizen of King’s Landing claims that Arya is still alive! As his last living relative, Jon must find her, and asks his coital partners if they’ll join him in travelling to King’s Landing where she might be found.

Daenerys and Tyrion nod simultaneously, and offer him a double fist bump. He accepts, and Daenerys gives a dragon to both him and Tyrion to ride.

George grabs onto Tyrion’s dragon’s tail so that you can still use him as the basis of this chapter’s POV.

After easily frying the white walkers with dragon breath, the trio travels to the seat of government, only to find that it was a trap! Varys had alerted all the people who you haven’t killed in the books yet to make a stand against the return of the Targaryen rule. They hoist the dead body of Arya into the sky and wave her around at Jon Snow. Her limbs jiggle about.

It’s time for the final showdown.


The final fan service.


The final troll.

DaenerysWithDragon

A mysterious note from an anonymous sender claims that Jon Snow is, in fact, a Targaryen! Tyrion quickly quips about now being the only person he’s ever known not involved with incest. Daenerys doesn’t seem all that grossed out about having just slept with her brother, but Jon is panicked. He asks his coital partners if they will help him track down the note’s sender.

Daenerys and Tyrion nod simultaneously, and offer him a double fist bump. He accepts, and Daenerys gives a dragon to both him and Tyrion to ride. George grabs onto Tyrion’s dragon’s tail so that you can still use him as the basis of this chapter’s POV.

Suddenly you remember that Jon also has a dire wolf at his disposal.

Convenient!

Ghost is fed the raven, and begins to track its sender. After easily frying the white walkers with dragon breath, the trio follows behind the wolf from the air. After traveling many miles, they find themselves in King’s Landing. Jon is shocked to find who’s waiting for them there.


Give your readers what they want.


Give your readers what they don’t know they want.

dragon

Frustrated by the danger posed to his mother, Drogon, the largest of Daenerys’ dragons, swoops into the center to eat Jon Snow. Just as the fiery lizard approaches, Tyrion tugs at Jon’s skull, causing him to flip over. When he does, Daenerys is put in his place, and eaten by her own dragon.

Horrified by his actions, the other two dragons attack Drogon, killing him. As Jon and Tyrion walk over to inspect the dead beast, Daenerys bursts out from its chest like a Xenomorph, screaming something about being the Mother of Dragons. Jon and Tyrion nod to each other, then jointly decapitate her by drawing their blades across her neck like scissors.

It turns out that dragons imprint differently than other animals, and instantly assume Jon and Tyrion as their new masters because cool. Seeing no more reason to fight, Jon and Tyrion do a mid-air chest bump over Daenerys’ body, and mount the two remaining dragons.

After frying the white walkers at the wall, they decide that it’s time to take the Iron Throne once and for all, and so fly for King’s Landing.

Upon their arrival, they find Cersei sitting on the throne. Jon and Tyrion land at the front of the court, and menacingly walk their dragons down the long carpet to the Iron Throne.

Cersei doesn’t bother fighting. “Forget this…” she mutters, as she shuffles off to her quarters.

The day is won! But you have one more surprise in store for your readers.


A sexy surprise.


A violent surprise.

Jorah

Jorah Mormont it is. How should he bite it?


Relevantly.


Arbitrarily.

Grey Worm

Grey Worm it is. How should he bite it?


Relevantly.


Arbitrarily.

Jorah

Convinced that her impending trip to Westeros will separate them forever, Jorah falls on his sword (quite literally) in recognition of his doomed love. It’s all very detailed and sad. Or, at least it will be when you write it.

But what about Daenerys?


Instant rage.


Delayed tragedy.

Jorah

While walking back to his tent, Jorah trips on a root hidden under some sand, and cracks his head open on a rock.

Literature.

But what about Daenerys?


Instant rage.


Delayed tragedy.

Grey Worm

Having heard of Daenerys’ full-sized dragons, Varys hires Jaqen H’ghar (remember Jaqen H’ghar?) to assassinate her. Grey Worm runs into him on the border of the camp, and sacrifices himself in stopping the attempt.

But what about Daenerys?


Instant rage.


Delayed tragedy.

Grey Worm

Grey Worm falls ill with the flu and dies.

Literature!

But what about Daenerys?


Instant rage.


Delayed tragedy.

Jon 3

You collect all of the Night’s Watch from their various posts, and send them on a massive expedition into the icy North. Normally, the organization wouldn’t require all of its members to go, but in the extremely unlikely event of, say, a total bloody massacre or something, it wouldn’t be fun if there were any men left to take up the mantle.

The men travel north and run into the general smattering of north-of-the-wall problems: giants, occasional walkers, and the odd wildling hunting party. Jon is extremely dashing and heroic for all of it. Obviously.

After a few weeks, it’s Jon (again, obviously) who makes the discovery. He knows who’s behind the rise of the walkers. A series of discarded maester missives contain evidence of…


greensight.

or


dark prophesy.

Jon 3

The Night’s Watch is recalled from their various posts, and set along the top of the wall in a defensive formation. Normally, the organization wouldn’t require all of its members to present, but in the extremely unlikely event of, say, a total massacre or something, it wouldn’t be fun if there were any men left to take up the mantle.

Now, you’ve written about the walkers before, so a boring attack on the wall just isn’t going to do without a little something to spice it up.

With that in mind, the last zombie host approaches a fearful line of Watchmen, and Jon peers through a looking glass at their leader. His jaw nearly hits the floor when he sees who’s in command.


It’s someone he thought was dead.


It’s someone he would never expect to be north of the wall.

Jojen

The readers are going to love this little twist you’ve cooked up. The walkers are being controlled by Jojen and Meera Reed! And what’s worse? That’s why they recruited Bran! They needed more dreamers to help raise more of the dead and conquer Westeros for House Reed!

This is brilliant, you think, cackling aloud, utterly brilliant!

Despite the genius of your newest revelation, readers require action to keep them interested. Jon didn’t think that piece of info was free, did he?

Suddenly, a massive army of white walkers approaches. There are thousands by the look of it. Command falls to Jon, who immediately tries to pass off the decision to his companions, Samwell and Gilly. Samwell advises him to run back to the wall, but Gilly thinks it better to stand their ground.

Who should he listen to?


Samwell.


Gilly.

Osha

You’ve been dying to come up with something to do with the fifth Stark boy after having written actual storylines for Bran, Rob, Theon, and Jon. That’s why the readers are going to love this little twist you’ve cooked up. The walkers are being controlled by Rickon! And also Osha, his newly-acquired thrall!

After alluding to Rickon’s far sight a long time ago, it’s not too much of a stretch to reveal some extensive mental powers (though he doesn’t understand them). Much like Shaggydog, who grew violent and mangy under his control, the walkers have risen feral, ready to destroy Westeros at the subconscious behest of an immature boy.

This is brilliant, you think, cackling aloud, just utterly brilliant!

Just as Jon discovers the disturbing news about his brother, a massive army of white walkers approaches. There are thousands by the look of it. Command falls to Jon, who immediately tries to pass off the decision to his companions, Samwell and Gilly. Samwell advises him to run back to the wall, but Gilly thinks it better to stand their ground.

Who should he listen to?


Samwell.


Gilly.

Uncle Benjen

It’s Uncle Benjen, returned to ambulatory status by white walker, uh, magic? Infection? Well, whatever it is — and you can write that (or not) later — this revelation is absolute devastation to Jon. But as this is The Best. Game of Thrones Book. Ever. You’ll need to ratchet it up a notch. Even worse than simply being Jon Snow’s undead beloved uncle chum, he seems to have retained some knowledge of the Wall … primarily its weaknesses!

As zombie Benjen leads his army toward the Night’s Watch, exploiting any and all flaws in their formations and defense, Jon realizes that he’s going to need help. Calling upon Aemon for his help, Jon directs that a raven be sent.

Whoever he sends it to will need to be close enough to help, powerful enough to help, and willing to help. To whom should he send it?


Someone whose presence could inflict even more pain on Jon.


Uh … uh … uhhhhhh … Just steal lazily from Tolkien.

Theon

It’s Theon, in an innovative twist worthy of Shyamalan himself! Now, normally speaking, you’re more than willing to provide all sorts of plot nonsense without any explanation, but as this is a narrative development as opposed to a piece of lore or magic, so it may be worth explaining to your readers how this happened. Hmm…

Okay, so Theon, real Theon, is secretly recruited by Benjen at the same time as Jon, but must keep his new association with the Night’s Watch clandestine because it would violate the hostage agreement that the Starks held with the Greyjoys. Theon travelled north beyond the wall, where he was originally meant as a one-man expeditionary force to determine the source of the rise of the walkers.

Meanwhile, a member of the Faceless Men was installed in his place back home, who, for unknown reasons, decided to go down the character path your readers were supplied with.

Real Theon failed his mission, became a walker, and is now leading them into battle against his own adopted home country. The moment we find out that real Theon wasn’t actually a cock is the same moment we discover that it didn’t matter because he failed and died anyway. This is some tragedy, people.

Anyway, with Theon in command, Jon is going to need some help fending off the attack on Westeros. Calling upon Aemon for his help, Jon directs that a pigeon be sent.

Whoever he sends it to will need to be close enough to help, powerful enough to help, and willing to help. To whom should he send it?


Someone who’ll inflict even more pain from Jon’s past.


Uh … uh … just steal lazily from Tolkien.

Jon 4

It’s a well-known fact that in Middle Earth, just about anything can be solved by taking a small winged creature and sending it off to ask for the help of large winged creatures. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do the same.

Jon sends one of Aemon’s pigeons in search of some giant eagles to save the day.

But you aren’t Tolkien. Things never end so tidily here in Westeros.

The eagles do arrive, but…


Voluntary treachery!


Involuntary treachery!

Ygritte

The only one close enough to heed Jon’s call are the wildlings, and the only wildling he has any hope of convincing is Ygritte.

Jon sends the raven, and Ygritte, for better or worse, is quick with her reply.

You’re going to be honest with yourself here: There’s no way you’re letting this or any other conflict in this book end nicely for anyone, but that doesn’t mean it has to be super terrible for everyone involved.


Yes, it does.


Okay, “marginally terrible,” then.

Ygritte

Ygritte’s response does not come in the form of a letter. It comes in the form of a song. Sailing across the winds above the clamor of battle comes a chant, almost a hymn, sung over and over again by what Jon can soon perceive to be a massive army. As they approach, he can hear the words:

You know nothing, Jon Snow. You know nothing, Jon Sno-oh-oh-oh-oow!

Fueled by the hatred of her once-boy-toy Snow, Ygritte has rallied the wildlings to fight alongside the walkers, and in doing so, has near doubled the host now marching on the wall. Things are looking bad for Jon. Really bad.

Suddenly, a voice calls out from behind Jon. It’s Tyrion!

As a best-selling author, you’ve come to master multiple writing strategies. Your favorite by far is to build to an important narrative pressure point, then whisk the reader away to a completely unrelated series of scenes, characters, and locations that have nothing to do with what they’ve been reading.

To the Eastern Continent!


Begin chapter: “DAENERYS”.

Jon 3

The eagles appear and, at first, they do well decimating the various platoons and companies of undead attempting to break through the wall. Then one gets bitten.

One by one, more and more eagles become white, uh, fliers (yeah! white fliers!) leading to what seems to be an imminent crushing defeat for the Night’s Watch.

Suddenly, a voice calls out from behind Jon. It’s Tyrion!

As a best-selling author, you’ve come to master multiple writing strategies. Your favorite by far is to build to an important narrative pressure point, then whisk the reader away to a completely unrelated series of scenes, characters, and locations that have nothing to do with what they’ve been reading.

To the Eastern Continent!


Begin chapter: “DAENERYS”.

Jon 3

You’ve already decided to steal from Tolkien, so why not throw some Braveheart in there, too?

The eagles appear, and their leader discusses battle strategies with Jon Snow. The plan is simple: The Night’s Watch will draw the walkers to a designated location, and at exactly the right moment, Jon will blow the war horn, and the eagles will flank.

The following battle is intense and bloody, and if not for his secret plan, Jon wouldn’t be able to maintain his confident composure.

Soon, the specified moment arrives, and Jon blows the horn. Instead of attacking, one by one the eagles turn their heads solemnly and leave the battlefield, leaving Jon and the others to die. It seems the walkers offered them lands and titles in the North.

Hope fades.

Suddenly, a voice calls out from behind Jon. It’s Tyrion!

As a best-selling author, you’ve come to master multiple writing strategies. Your favorite by far is to build to an important narrative pressure point, then whisk the reader away to a completely unrelated series of scenes, characters, and locations that have nothing to do with what they’ve been reading.

To the Eastern Continent!


Begin chapter: “DAENERYS”.

Ygritte

Ygritte doesn’t send a letter in response … she sends an army! Jon Snow and the rest of the Watch cheer as they see her massive army, tens of thousands strong, appear from the east to flank the walkers. The walkers break from their assault on the wall, and turn to face this new enemy instead, allowing the Watch to regroup.

Half an hour later, the men’s joy turns to horror as the walkers decimate the wildlings. As they fall, new forms of walkers are created from their corpses: mammoths, giants, and brutal, well-armed warriors. As the last wildling falls, Jon thinks he hears a voice on the wind: “You knew nothing, Jon Snooowwww…”

The walkers’ force is now twice as strong, and doom looks ever-present.

Hope fades.

Suddenly, a voice calls out from behind Jon. It’s Tyrion!

As a best-selling author, you’ve come to master multiple writing strategies. Your favorite by far is to build to an important narrative pressure point, then whisk the reader away to a completely unrelated series of scenes, characters, and locations that have nothing to do with what they’ve been reading.

To the Eastern Continent!


Begin chapter: “DAENERYS”.

The Wall

Jon retreats to the wall and the walkers give chase. As the Watch retraces its steps through the cold wasteland, they become fatigued, an ailment completely foreign to the dead creatures pursuing in their wake. One by one, full platoons of the Watch fall to the walkers. It’s a massacre.

Only Jon, Samwell, and Gilly survive, because why not we know who they are. Maybe they had a horse? You can figure out that bit later. So, the trio is now lost in a blizzard, trying to make their way back to the wall.

It’s time for you to make something more interesting than zombies happen to this group. Like so many other choices that have fallen to you as the author of these books, it comes down to two simple ideas: sex or violence.

You wonder which the readers would appreciate more in this instance.


Tragic lovemaking.


Tragic cannibalism.

Gilly

Jon listens to Gilly and decides to hold his ground. Instead of detailing the action in your notes, you simply write really awesome battle and underline it a few times. Underneath, you outline the important things that come from it.

Jon is knocked unconscious and pulled from the fray by Samwell and Gilly. The rest of the Night’s Watch is massacred and the walkers move on.

Jon wakes up, and discovers that he, Samwell, and Gilly have been lost in a blizzard for three days. It’s time for you to make something more interesting than zombies happen to this group. Like so many other choices that have fallen to you as author of these books, it comes down to two simple ideas: sex or violence.

You wonder which the readers would appreciate more in this instance.


Tragic lovemaking.


Tragic cannibalism.

Samwell

With starvation imminent, Samwell kills himself so that the others can live. Jon refuses, but Gilly digs in, making sure to save some of his brain for her baby. The baby instantaneously contracts spongiform encephalopathy from munching on Samwell’s thought bits, causing its body to spasm, shrivel, and then die. As the baby croaks, Gilly kills herself, leaving Jon alone in the frozen wilderness.

Jon forges ahead, and soon discovers — oh terrible irony, heh heh heh — that they were right next to the wall, but couldn’t see it behind the wall of snow. He climbs up, has a hot non-human-flesh dinner, and peers over the wall. The horde of walkers that killed his brothers-in-arms is fast approaching.

Behind him, a voice calls out. It’s Tyrion!

As a best-selling author, you’ve come to master multiple writing strategies. Your favorite by far is to build to an important narrative pressure point, then whisk the reader away to a completely unrelated series of scenes, characters, and locations that have nothing to do with what they’ve been reading.

To the Eastern Continent!


Begin chapter: “DAENERYS”.

Samwell

Upon further inspection of the situation, Jon realizes that Gilly has been mortally wounded, though withholds this information from Samwell, who’d be crushed by the revelation. Knowing her death is imminent, Jon sweetly convinces Samwell to forget his vows to the Watch (which is basically hosed now anyway) and make sweet, passionate love to her.

At this point, you’ll probably add in a comedic scene, one in which Samwell is awkward while receiving technique pointers from Jon.

When that’s all finished, Samwell proceeds to make the aforementioned sweet, passionate love to Gilly. Mid-coitus, Gilly finds herself distracted by the fact that she hasn’t heard her baby cry since they started. She pushes herself away from Samwell, sees that her baby has died from exposure, and then succumbs to her wounds amidst the thought that her baby is dead. Samwell, overcome by the scene, takes his own life.

Jon finds the strength to forge ahead, and soon discovers that they were right next to the wall, but couldn’t see it behind the wall of snow. He climbs up and peers over the wall. The horde of walkers that killed his brothers-in-arms is fast approaching.

Behind him, a voice calls out. It’s Tyrion!

As a best-selling author, you’ve come to master multiple writing strategies. Your favorite by far is to build to an important narrative pressure point, then whisk the reader away to a completely unrelated series of scenes, characters, and locations that have nothing to do with what they’ve been reading.

To the Eastern Continent!


Begin chapter: “DAENERYS”.

Tyrion 1

“I’m not sure which of us should lead,” Jon says tentatively, running his velvet gloved fingers across the left arm of the throne.

“Perhaps there is a way,” Tyrion replies, looking coyly to Jon. “For us both to be King, I mean.”

“How?” Jon asks, innocently curious.

“Like this,” Tyrion says quietly, stroking Jon’s thigh.

At first Jon is surprised by the dwarf’s tender touch, but soon finds himself dropping to his knees and creating an airtight seal between his lips and Tyrion’s.

As they release their kiss, Jon looks affectionately at Tyrion. “King and king,” he says.

Tyrion nods. “King and king.”

You furrow your brow and consider what you’ve just written. It really doesn’t make any sense, but you’ve come this far, and HBO’s deadline is fast approaching. Oh well, you think, the fans can just deal with it.

The only thing left is an epilogue. Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options.


Something completely arbitrary.


A nonsensical twist.


A cliffhanger.

Jon 3

“I think you should be king,” Jon says, gesturing at the iron throne.

“I’d never considered it,” Tyrion says, slowly approaching the chair. “I’d always thought I was doomed to a life of wine and tits — not so bad as all that I suppose — but this … I could do so much good for the realm, you know? I could do so much more by playing the wise king instead of the drunken dwarf. We could have peace, Jon. True peace. We could rebuild. We could — “

Jon jabs his sword through Tyrion’s throat.

“My dear, dear friend,” Jon says as he removes the bloody blade. “If only you hadn’t had aspirations for the throne. You may have lived to be my Hand.”

Awesome! The only thing left is an epilogue. Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options.


Something thoroughly depressing.


A nonsensical twist.

Aomen

As the trio enters King’s Landing on dragonback, they’re immediately surprised by the quiet of the throne room. Soon, that quiet is broken by soft footsteps, and the emergence of a shadowy figure from behind the iron throne. It’s Aemon Targaryen!

Tyrion and Daenerys say “Who?” in unison.

With his identity forgotten as a member of the Watch, Aemon has been biding his time to ascend the throne. Somehow, he’s managed a coup while the others have been away at the wall, and the final component of his overly complicated scheme was to summon his three greatest threats to one place for convenient elimination.

Tyrion, Jon, and Danerys take flight, and begin to soar around the room in a tight circle, wondering how this blind old man is planning to kill them. The echoing sound of a bellowing roar is their answer.

Bursting through the stone floor comes the reanimated skeleton of Balerion the Black Dread, the size of all three of Daenerys’ dragons combined.

It’s time for the final showdown.


Ultimate fan service.


Ultimate fan disservice.

Ned Stark

The trio appears in King’s Landing, and soon find themselves led through an unknown, labyrinthine series of sloppily-carved tunnels below the castle. After fifteen minutes, they arrive at what seems to be a dungeon door. Opening it slowly, Jon is shocked to find Eddard Stark still alive and in chains!

As they release him, Ned explains how he was captured by the Warlocks of Quarth, who cast an illusionary spell of his death on the people of King’s Landing to confuse and confound kingdom politics. Their plan, so Ned describes, was to create the utter chaos that his death unleashed, priming Westeros for a Quarthian invasion. The effect could only stand as long as Ned was alive, and so he was kept that way until such time as the actual invasion took place.

Ned is placed on dragonback alongside Jon Snow, and the four warriors fly back to the throne room to confront the warlocks who Ned claims are ever hiding in the shadows of court.

They arrive to find everyone dead. The warlocks sensed the disruption of the magical chains holding Ned’s body, and accelerated their plans. Seven of them now stand in a circle around the Iron Throne.

As you consider possible outcomes, you head back into your kitchen for some refreshment. Do you reach for…


A freshly-squeezed, wholesome glass of fruit juice.


The cold, bitter remnants of the morning’s black, acidic coffee.

dragon

“I thought this would happen,” Tyrion remarks. “And that’s why I prepared a little something special before leaving for the wall. Follow me!”

Tyrion flies his dragon to a nearby field, and Daenerys and Jon follow just behind, dodging the arrows flying from the bows of Varys’ army.

Once in the field, Tyrion pulls back a large section of grass, revealing what seem to be massive harnesses attached to large vials of a glowing green substance.

“Mounted wildfire turrets,” he says smugly. “For the dragons. Also some sidearms, too.”

He throws a small wildfire pistol to both Daenerys and Jon.

Daenerys offers him an energetic thumbs-up. “Let’s do this,” she says.

They attach the large mounted guns to their dragon’s shoulders and fly back to meet the great host collected at King’s Landing. The entire castle soon erupts in green flames, as the trio douses their enemies in burning streams of liquid wildfire.

Daenerys, Jon, and Tyrion run out of ammo simultaneously, then look to each other and nod. In one swift motion, the three of them slide from the side of their mount, and are caught gently at the ankles by their dragons’ claws. Upside down, each of them draws their pistol, and finishes coating their enemies in burning death like hanging death-bats.

When the last person standing against them has fallen, Daenerys orders her dragons to flap their great wings until the fires peter out. “Well, boys,” she says, “you did well to make it this far, but I’m afraid this is where we part ways.” She holds her pistol at them, its wildfire hopper still full.

Tyrion and Jon look to theirs. Empty.

“You see, I never fired,” she says. “I knew your efforts would be enough.”

“But why betray us?” Tyrion asks.

“Because you both have claims to my throne. You, dwarf, as the heir to the most powerful family on the continent, and you, Jon, as someone who clearly has some sort of royal lineage thing going on that we probably just don’t know about yet. But I’m not willing to risk it. Because Mother of Dragons.”

With that, she sprays wildfire onto both of them, and laughs as they melt into skeletons.

The only thing left is to write an epilogue. Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options.


Something completely arbitrary.


A nonsensical twist.


A cliffhanger.

dragon

“I thought this would happen,” Tyrion remarks. “And that’s why I prepared a little something special before leaving for the Wall. Follow me!”

Tyrion flies his dragon to a nearby field, and Daenerys and Jon follow just behind, dodging the arrows flying from the bows of Varys’ army.

Once in the field, Tyrion pulls back a large section of grass, revealing what seem to be massive harnesses attached to large vials of a glowing green substance.

“Mounted wildfire turrets,” he says smugly. “For the dragons. Also some sidearms, too.”

He throws a small wildfire pistol to both Daenerys and Jon.

Daenerys offers him an energetic thumbs-up. “Let’s do this,” she says.

They attach the large mounted guns to their dragon’s shoulders and fly back to meet the great host collected at King’s Landing. The entire castle soon erupts in green flames, as the trio douses their enemies in burning streams of liquid wildfire.

Daenerys, Jon, and Tyrion run out of ammo simultaneously, then look to each other and nod. In one swift motion, the three of them slide from the side of their mount, and are caught gently at the ankles by their dragons’ claws. Upside down, each of them draws their pistol, and finishes coating their enemies in burning death like hanging death-bats.

When the last person standing against them has fallen, Daenerys orders her dragons to flap their great wings until the fires peter out. The three of them look to the Iron Throne.

The only thing left for you write is an epilogue. Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options:


Something completely arbitrary.


An epic downer.


Total fan service.

Warlock

Seven warlocks, seven warriors. Ned draws his massive sword and points it to the warlock closest. “In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of His Name,” he declares, “Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm, I, Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, sentence you to die.”

Ned charges forward blade first, and each of the humans and dragons pair off with one of the warlocks, creating the largest, zaniest scrum the throne room has ever seen.

Dragons swoop around near the ceiling in tight, frantic loops with unwanted enemy passengers clinging to their backs. The warlocks tear and claw at their scales with wizened fingers, while the dragons bite and thrash, shooting short cones of flame to fight them off.

On the ground, Tyrion, Jon, and Daenerys have each drawn a sword, and begin dueling one-on-one against the remaining wizards, who parry and riposte with blue arcane swords they’ve conveniently summoned. The battle lasts for hours.

Tyrion is the first to die, and then Daenerys, leaving Jon and Ned to fight back-to-back against the four warlocks still on the ground. Suddenly, a large scaly body flops onto the ground next to them, and then another. The third dragon falls just after, as the warlock who killed him surfs his corpse down to the floor.

“Jon,” Ned says, parrying a heavy blow. “Before we die, I want to tell you who your mother is. Jon?” He turns and finds his son already dead.

Completely outmatched, Ned drops his sword.

The warlocks merge into one man. “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword,” the warlock says in a mimicking tone. With that, he knocks Ned to his knees, and executes him Ilyn Payne style.

But for real, this time.

The only thing left is an epilogue. Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options.


A nonsensical twist.


An epic downer.

Warlock

Seven warlocks, seven warriors. Ned draws his massive sword and points it to the warlock closest. “In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of His Name,” he declares, “Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm, I, Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, sentence you to die.”

Ned charges forward blade first, and each of the humans and dragons pair off with one of the warlocks, creating the largest, zaniest scrum the throne room has ever seen.

Dragons swoop around near the ceiling in tight, frantic loops with unwanted enemy passengers clinging to their backs. The warlocks tear and claw at their scales with wizened fingers, while the dragons bite and thrash, shooting short cones of flame to fight them off.

On the ground, Tyrion, Jon, and Daenerys have each drawn a sword, and begin dueling one-on-one against the remaining wizards, who parry and riposte with blue arcane swords they’ve conveniently summoned. The battle lasts for hours.

When the dust settles, just one warlock remains. The others had been his clones. Tyrion, Jon, and Daenerys each swing to decapitate him, but Ned jumps in front of the blows, deflecting each with three well-placed swipes.

“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword,” he tells them. With that, he knocks the warlock to his knees, and executes him Ilyn Payne style.

A fitting endnote.

The only thing left is an epilogue. Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options.


Total fan service.


Something completely arbitrary.

Aomen

Jon, Daenerys, and Tyrion dismount, allowing their dragons to take on the undead Balerion while they dispatch the deceitful old man. To their surprise, Aemon uses the same black magic he wielded to bring back the dragon to completely disassemble the iron throne. As the weapons separate from the chair, they re-form as a writhing storm of swords whirling around his body like a tornado.

As all four dragon combatants are naturally fireproof, they opt instead for claw-to-claw combat, dancing a deadly aerial ballet of a secret karate known only to mythical flying beasts. Below, Jon and Tyrion have armed themselves and decide to rush Aemon.

Suddenly, one of Danerys’ dragons, Drogon, dies, and the weight of his falling body crushes Jon and Tyrion to death. Her other two dragons fall shortly after, leaving Danerys alone with Aemon. She valiantly rips the largest toe claw from Drogon and charges Aemon, but succeeds only in impaling herself on his swirling iron aegis.

All of those books. All of that character development. You’ve officially defenestrated it. Aemon ascends the throne.

The only thing left is to write an epilogue. Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options.


A nonsensical twist.


An epic downer.

Aomen

Jon, Danerys, and Tyrion dismount, allowing their dragons to take on the undead Balerion while they dispatch the deceitful old man. To their surprise, Aemon uses the same black magic he wielded to bring back the dragon to completely disassemble the iron throne. As the weapons separate from the chair, they re-form as a writhing storm of swords whirling around his body like a tornado.

As all four dragon combatants are naturally fireproof, they opt instead for claw-to-claw combat, dancing a deadly aerial ballet of a secret karate known only to mythical flying beasts. Below, Jon and Tyrion have armed themselves and decide to rush Aemon.

Just before reaching Aemon, Jon yells, “Hup!” and Tyrion leaps at the signal. Literally. Bounding up from the group, Jon catches him and thrusts him high into the air. His tiny hands are barely able to wrap around the tips of two of the skeleton dragon’s ribs, but they do. With a quick flex of his biceps, the rib bones break, and Tyrion falls back toward the ground with two jagged dragonbone clubs pointed ahead of him.

Reeling from the pain, the undead dragon jumps back, allowing one of Danerys’ dragons, Drogon, to slap at its uppermost vertebrae with the end of his tail. The vertebrae loosens, and Balereon’s skull tumbles to the floor, breaking the spell that had kept him alive.

Below, Tyrion completes his fall, landing on Aemon from above and using his weight to jab the broken rib bones into the man’s heart by way of his shoulders. Aemon collapses and the day is won.

The only thing left to write is an epilogue. Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options.


Total fan service.


An epic downer.


Something completely arbitrary.

The Wall

It’s been a long road to get here. Some of it has had meaning, and some of it hasn’t. Most of it hasn’t. And you liked those bits more than all.

As you write your epilogue, you try to think of an appropriately obnoxious ending, one that sums up all of the arbitrarily frustrating death and general pointlessness, one perfectly non sequitur moment that will once and for all make the readers feel like they’ve completely wasted every moment they spent learning your universe.

And then it hits you.

As the years pass, characters die, and the noble houses rise and fall. Religions are founded and forgotten, rebellions topple kings and queens, and the very tectonic plates below people’s feet shift continents into new shapes. The world freezes over, and is survived by just two dragons, Adamon and Eventor, the great great great great great great great grandchildren of the ones Daenerys brought across the sea.

Faced with extinction, they choose to take a new form that can better survive this new world. They become two humans, Adam and Eve.

The end.

You’ve done it. You’ve written The Best. Game of Thrones Book. Ever. And everyone will love it. Your last decision is to name your masterpiece, and see how well your fans receive the decisions you’ve made.


A Poem of Property.


A Hashtag for Hodor.

Jon 2 naked

If your series has been anything, it’s been a storm of double-edged swords. You’ve striven to balance giving the fans what they want with wrenching their guts out. In the end, only one idea can win out, and it wouldn’t be frikken Game of Thrones if it wasn’t the latter.

Jon ascends to the throne. He finally forces the largest houses to send troops to the wall, but the threat has passed, and they aren’t needed anymore. He wishes to return the Starks to their former glory, but none of them are left to take up the mantle. He strives for peace, but there are no threats to it.

He lives out his days on the Iron Throne in abject loneliness, cursed by great fortune and not a soul to share it with. His family is the scheming Varyses and Littlefingers of the world, and his friends are anyone hoping for him to pass a law or decide a case in their favor. He is the personification of unhappiness, and the world hasn’t changed a bit for his ascension.

The end.

You’ve done it. You’ve written The Best. Game of Thrones Book. Ever. And everyone will love it. Your last decision is to name your masterpiece, and see how well your fans receive the decisions you’ve made.


A Company of Caveats.


A Castle of Carrion.

White Walker army

Regardless of the personal machinations of your 70 some-odd characters, and regardless of who ended up sitting on the throne, regardless of who lived and who died and who saved and who killed, regardless of any of it, this book was destined to end in a way that disregards the lot of it. If there’s one thing you’ve sought to teach your readers, it’s narrative nihilism. And if they haven’t gotten it by now, this ending should drive the philosophy home.

The walkers may have been temporarily defeated at the wall, but there were more of them. Far more. And eventually, they break through to the South. Westeros has spent too much gold and far too many lives fighting each other to stop the undying army sweeping through their farms, homes, castles, and kingdoms.

Everyone dies.

Hell, even the walkers die after killing everyone else.

The world is a frozen, sinister heap of crap.

The universe won’t be happy until everyone is miserable, dead, or both.

Everyone you ever love will one day be eaten by worms and then dumped back into the soil meaningless and cold, without even a hope that the nutrients released by their decomposition will find use because the world is dead, and the ideas of rejuvenation and growth are nothing more than forgotten memories.

The end.

You’ve done it. You’ve written The Best. Game of Thrones Book. Ever. And everyone will love it. Your last decision is to name your masterpiece, and see how well your fans receive the decisions you’ve made.


A Castle of Carrion.


An Insight of Ice.

Tyrion Wine

You’ve spent too long fighting the fans, and you’re tired of it. You don’t want to go down in history as that guy who disappointed everyone. You don’t want to be Lost, and obfuscate your work to the point of irrelevance. You don’t want to be Battlestar Galactica and have your attempts at being clever and original fire back in your face. You don’t want to be Buffy and continue on long, long past your prime. You don’t want to leave things unfinished like Firefly or pull a Dexter and have everyone remember the series as if it was garbage from the beginning. No. For the first time ever, a writer is going to give fans what they want, and no one can ever complain about it.

Jon and Daenerys get married and become king and queen after Tyrion volunteers to serve as the Hand. The dragons serve as a force for peace, chasing the last Lannisters, Freys, and Arryns across the sea, never to be heard from again. Anyone dead and likable is brought back as a Force Ghost like they did in Star Wars so that you don’t feel too badly about them being gone, and the wildlings are given control of what used to be the Stark’s lands, free to govern themselves as they see fit.

Hodor learns to speak like a normal human, and the family of dire wolves (yes, even the dead ones — they’re Force ghosts, too) rejoin as a pack, and spend their days frolicking and hunting and baying and whatever it is that wolves do when they’re having a super great time.

Bran finds a girlfriend, Jaqen H’ghar teaches The Hound how to make his face look normal again, Varys and Littlefinger just make out and get it over with, and for the love of the Old Gods of the Forest somebody finally makes a damn cushion for the Iron Throne.

The end.

You’ve done it. You’ve written The Best. Game of Thrones Book. Ever. And everyone will love it. Your last decision is to name your masterpiece, and see how well your fans receive the decisions you’ve made.


A Song of Games and Thrones.


A Poem of Property.

To hell with everything you’ve written so far; somehow George, the POV character from your last chapter, becomes king because why not. You wrote these damn books, and it makes as much sense as anything else.

And they all lived happily ever after under the rule of King George of the house R.R. Martin.

Suckers.

The end.

You’ve done it. You’ve written The Best. Game of Thrones Book. Ever. And everyone will love it. Your last decision is to name your masterpiece, and see how well your fans receive the decisions you’ve made.


A Hashtag for Hodor.


An Insight of Ice.

Tyrion 2

Like so many other great scenes in your book, you decide to end with something that looks good, but has the shadow of a gigantic “OR IS IT” beast lurking somewhere in the tree line.

So, Tyrion becomes king — screw that — Tyrion becomes the emperor. But, because he’s Tyrion, he basically devolves over time into a new, much more diminutive version of Robert Baratheon, spending most of his days chasing tail and lazily downing vats of wine. It’s a lukewarm ending to an epic tale … BUT…

A new force dwells in the south! In a chapter set to read exactly like the first chapter of Game of Thrones, a small expeditionary force is wiped out by a whole new sinister set of magical creatures that may come to eventually threaten all of Westeros! The walkers were basically zombies but not, so these new guys can be … hmmm … oh, you’ve got it! Vampires…but not. Yeah! People can’t call them overdone if you don’t call them vampires.

You can come up with something more original to name them later.

The end.

You’ve done it. You’ve written The Best. Game of Thrones Book. Ever. And everyone will love it. Your last decision is to name your masterpiece, and see how well your fans receive the decisions you’ve made.


A Company of Caveats.


An Insight of Ice.

The release of A Hashtag for Hodor is the pebble that began the avalanche. The HBO series ends amidst terrible reviews, but wonderful ratings, leading the executives to talk you into all sorts of new ways to cash in on Game of Thrones. Spin-off after spin-off hits the shelves and screens in the form of prequels, sequels, and offshoots.

Your book sales: 10,000,000.
Your viewers: 20,000,000.
Your profit: Billions.
Your reception: Everyone hates you, but can’t stop supporting your work financially.

You’ve found one of seven possible epilogues, and one of seven possible outcomes based on your choices.

Didn’t run into your favorite character? Didn’t like the public’s reaction to your enviable genius? Click here to erase your notes and start again.

If you’re looking for more paths to pick–and come on, who isn’t–or you’re just painstakingly bored, you can check out one of my other PYPs that wasn’t published on April Fool’s Day:

Mass Effect
Dragon Age
Assassin’s Creed
Skyrim

A Poem of Property is met with mixed feelings. The majority of people who encounter it — some by book, others by the show — enjoy it, but those who call themselves “true fans” never forgive you for what you’ve done to “their” precious series. Though there are ten times as many people who love your work than hate it, you receive ten times more hate mail than fan mail.

Your book sales: 5,000,000.
Your viewers: 15,000,000.
Your profit: Millions.
Your reception: Most people love your work, but those who hate it, like really hate it.

You’ve found one of seven possible epilogues, and one of seven possible outcomes based on your choices.

Didn’t run into your favorite character? Didn’t like the public’s reaction to your enviable genius? Click here to erase your notes and start again.

If you’re looking for more paths to pick–and come on, who isn’t–or you’re just painstakingly bored, you can check out one of my other PYPs that wasn’t published on April Fool’s Day:

Mass Effect
Dragon Age
Assassin’s Creed
Skyrim

A Song of Games and Thrones is met with universal adoration. Every one-a-day T-shirt company on the web is running ASGT shirts, Wizards of the Coast have released a card game, and Minecraft has released a full set of character skins. Facebook tries to buy you for two billion dollars. Your days are filled with phone calls from big-time publishers and producers, and within the year you’ve officially been handed the reins to Star Wars, Star Trek, The Avengers, Sherlock, Doctor Who, and the impending resurrection of Firefly.

Your book sales: 10,000,000.
Your viewers: 50,000,000.
Your profit: Billions.
Your reception: Everyone loves your work but the hipsters and the people who realize that it’s a terrible idea for one company or creative force to be in charge of so many facets of geekdom, who come to boycott anything you become involved with. It doesn’t make much of a dent.

You’ve found one of seven possible epilogues, and one of seven possible outcomes based on your choices.

Didn’t run into your favorite character? Didn’t like the public’s reaction to your enviable genius? Click here to erase your notes and start again.

If you’re looking for more paths to pick–and come on, who isn’t–or you’re just painstakingly bored, you can check out one of my other PYPs that wasn’t published on April Fool’s Day:

Mass Effect
Dragon Age
Assassin’s Creed
Skyrim

An Insight of Ice is an absolute failure. You were close, so close, to writing a successful final book, but you went just one tiny step too far. You completely lose your audience. It gets so bad that Michael Bay and Zack Snyder get into a bidding war over the movie rights. You spend the rest of your career trying to resurrect your glory days by penning inane prequels.

Your book sales: 300,000.
Your viewers: 1,000,000.
Your profit: Thousands.
Your reception: You’re a laughing stock to many, but there are still those few capable of judging you not just by your final moments, but instead by the overall quality of everything you’ve written when considered as a whole. You find these people, and spend hours playing Mass Effect 3 co-op with them online.

You’ve found one of seven possible epilogues, and one of seven possible outcomes based on your choices.

Didn’t run into your favorite character? Didn’t like the public’s reaction to your enviable genius? Click here to erase your notes and start again.

If you’re looking for more paths to pick–and come on, who isn’t–or you’re just painstakingly bored, you can check out one of my other PYPs that wasn’t published on April Fool’s Day:

Mass Effect
Dragon Age
Assassin’s Creed
Skyrim

An odd thing happens when you release A Company of Caveats. You’re festooned with bad reviews, complaints on forums, petitions to change the ending, hate mail, and satirical YouTube videos that aren’t laughing with you, but laughing at you. And yet … everyone is buying. You’re selling more copies than you could have hoped for. HBO can’t believe the amazing ratings the final season of the show was able to bring in.

Your book sales: 10,000,000.
Your viewers: 10,000,000.
Your profit: Millions.
Your reception: Though a quick Google search would say that you’re universally reviled, your bank account says otherwise. HBO and many other networks have offered you an automatic greenlight for any other project you have in mind.

You’ve found one of seven possible epilogues, and one of seven possible outcomes based on your choices.

Didn’t run into your favorite character? Didn’t like the public’s reaction to your enviable genius? Click here to erase your notes and start again.

If you’re looking for more paths to pick–and come on, who isn’t–or you’re just painstakingly bored, you can check out one of my other PYPs that wasn’t published on April Fool’s Day:

Mass Effect
Dragon Age
Assassin’s Creed
Skyrim

Daenerys 3

Deciding what to do with Daenerys was never going to be easy. After all, by placing so much of a focus on her while simultaneously keeping her removed from the relevant storylines, letting her win would be almost too obvious. Too boring. And yet, not letting her win could be much, much worse. A slap in the face to everyone who spent hours and hours poring through Daenerys chapters, waiting to get back to the actual plot.

In the end, in a stroke of fan complicity that surprises even you, you decide to let Daenrys rule Westeros uncontested. She’s great to the people, the people are great to her, everyone is happy, and she rules, confident, effective, and beloved, until she dies.

The end.

You’ve done it. You’ve written The Best. Game of Thrones Book. Ever. And everyone will love it. Your last decision is to name your masterpiece, and see how well your fans receive the decisions you’ve made.


A Poem of Property.


A Song of Games and Thrones.

A Castle of Carrion isn’t exactly popular with the public, but that’s only because they didn’t get it. Your true fans did, though, and they reward you by making the book a cult classic — in certain circles. HBO refuses to invest a budget to film any of it, but you retain the rights to their pre-production work, and collaborate with your fans to make an amateur adaptation of it with Kickstarter funding. You even attract the kid who played Jojen to reprise his role, giving it some serious credibility!

Your book sales: 500,000.
Your viewers: 100,000.
Your profit: Thousands.
Your reception: The people who read the book dislike you, but the majority of your fans (the people only involved with it through television) reserve their hatred solely for HBO, never quite understanding why those bastards cancelled their favorite show so early.

You’ve found one of seven possible epilogues, and one of seven possible outcomes based on your choices.

Didn’t run into your favorite character? Didn’t like the public’s reaction to your enviable genius? Click here to erase your notes and start again.

If you’re looking for more paths to pick–and come on, who isn’t–or you’re just painstakingly bored, you can check out one of my other PYPs that wasn’t published on April Fool’s Day:

Mass Effect
Dragon Age
Assassin’s Creed
Skyrim

Daenerys 3

Tyrion pulls Jon’s chin left as he pushes the back of his head to the right. There is a loud, wet, snapping noise like the breaking of a celery stalk, and Jon’s body flops limply to the ground.

“You saved my life,” Daenerys says, as she stands back to her feet. “Who are you?”

Tyrion goes on to explain how awesome he is, but how everyone in the story seems to unfairly hate him despite his massive appeal with the readership. Daenerys listens intently, then describes herself to Tyrion as someone with a right to the throne, who’s kind and benevolent, and who never stands down when faced with threats or impropriety.

With Daenerys’ clear ability to lead, and Tyrion’s knowledge of modern Westeros, they agree that she should become queen, while Tyrion is made Hand. They shake on it, and Tyrion is given one of the dragons. They ride to King’s Landing side by side.

Of course, you can’t make it that easy. They’re going to have to deal with an antagonist at some point. When they arrive, who should Tyrion find seated on the throne?


Melisandre.


Cersei.

Melisandre

While everyone was gone messing about at the wall, Melisandre led a religious coup, killed Stannis, and ascended to the throne as queen. Not having any of it, Daenerys and Tyrion command their dragons to fill the throne room with fire.

The dragons comply, and soon the entirety of the court is a blazing fireball. As the light fades, however, they find Melisandre still seated, unharmed.

“I serve the Lord of Light,” she proclaims. “I cannot be harmed by fire.”

As she finishes the words, she releases a massive fireball of her own. The fire soon burns out, and Tyrion has been reduced to ash. Daenerys and her dragons, however, are unharmed.

“I am the Mother of Dragons,” Daenerys proclaims. “I, uh, also cannot be harmed by fire.”

It’s a standoff. You lovingly stroke your beard while you try to think of a way out of this narrative pickle you’ve gotten yourself into.

You clear you mind and remember the most basic law of writing Westeros. This can only go one of two ways.


Sexy*.


Violent.

*Not actually sexy. Like at all.

Cersei

After living the life of a spider, filling King’s Landing with webs of lies, weaving traps, and being generally creepy, Cersei has met her aspirations and taken control of the throne.

“Ah, my lovely sister,” Tyrion says as he approaches her. “Would you be so kind as to remove yourself from my good friend’s seat? If you are feeling too weak to do so, I’m sure her three scaled companions can assist you. After a word from one of them, I just know that you’ll be as easy to remove from that chair as, say, ash in the wind.”

“Yes, the dragons I’ve heard so much about,” Cersei replies, unshaken. “A shame they can only respond to the commands of, what was your name again, dear? Daniel?”

“Daenerys!” Daenerys replies. “Queen Daenerys of House Targaryen, First of Her Name. Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons!”

“How quaint,” Cersei replies, clasping her hands together. “And how did you enjoy that apple you ate for lunch today? I thought you might be hungry, so I asked Varys to send you along a little snack.”

Tyrion looks to Daenerys. “No…no!” he exclaims. “That would be too random. Too terrible! She’s been building a name for herself this whole time across the sea, training these dragons, trying to build an army, surviving death and treachery only to be killed by something as dumb as poison, which wasn’t even eaten on screen?”

Daenerys falls to the floor, dead.

You look into your coffee and smile at your reflection. You are such a great writer, you say.

But there’s no time for self-congratulation just yet. HBO’s deadline is fast approaching.

How do you intend to end this thing?


Trust your best instincts.


Fight your best instincts.

Melisandre

Melisandre may be fireproof, but the throne she sits on isn’t. Daenerys can see the Iron Throne glowing orange from her dragon’s last attack.

Without delay, she orders the three dragons to assault Melisandre with another round of flame. Melisandre sits and laughs as she is covered harmlessly in flame, failing to notice Daenerys running past her, hidden behind the blinding light of the fire.

When the fire burns out, Melisandre looks for Daenerys but does not find her. Instead, she finds a blade suddenly jabbing out through her ribs from behind. Daenerys stands behind her, a loosened blade from the melting throne between her hands.

You take a moment to do an impression of what you imagine Melisandre must look like right now. After a moment of this, you put your tongue back in your mouth, and uncross your eyes. HBO’s deadline is fast approaching. You need an epilogue.

Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options.


A nonsensical twist.


Some surprisingly fulfilled expectations.

Vagina Smoke Monster

“You leave me no choice!” Melisandre yells, leaving the throne for the ground. Once seated, she spreads her legs wide, revealing her privates to Daenerys. Soon, smoke begins to pour out of her, eventually taking the shadowy shape of Stannis Baratheon.

As Inappropriately Created Stannis menacingly swings his sword in front of him, Daenerys mirrors Melisandre by sitting on the floor and spreading her legs just as wide. Soon, her own plume of smoke emerges, eventually taking the form of Khal Drogo.

Inappropriately Created Stannis charges at Inappropriately Created Khal Drogo, who parries the impending blow with a quick swipe of his Arakhs blade. They circle each other as their creators cheer them on with “You can do it!”s and “Go for the throat!”s.

Suddenly, Inappropriately Created Stannis runs up the side of the wall and does a quarter flip, bringing his claymore down toward Inappropriately Created Khal Drogo’s head. Daenerys gasps as Inappropriately Created Khal Drogo dodges at the last possible moment, then uses to opportunity to gain an advantage. While Inappropriately Created Stannis’ guard is down, Inappropriately Created Khal Drogo slashes at his neck as swift as smoke lightning, severing his head, and dissipating his form.

Melisandre looks on in terror as Inappropriately Created Khal Drogo approaches her. As he lifts his blade to her throat, she screams. To her surprise, Inappropriately Created Khal Drogo suddenly drops his weapon and, instead of hurting her, sticks his finger inside of her mouth.

Melisandre unsuccessfully tries to spit out the foul taste of his smoke, and he laughs as he dissipates.

“Just get out of here,” Daenerys says as she stands back to her feet.

Melisandre wastes no time in complying, scraping off her tongue with the side of her finger.

As you finish writing the encounter, you realize that you should probably rewrite the scene to something a bit less disturbing. You look to the clock. HBO’s deadline is fast approaching. You don’t have time to change it. You need an epilogue.

Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options.


An epic downer.


Some surprisingly fulfilled expectations.

Cersei wine

“It appears we’re at an impasse,” Cersei says to Tyrion. “I can’t compete with you physically, and you’re no match for my brains.”

“You’re that smart?” he asks jovially.

“Ever hear of Varys? Littlefinger? Maester Luwin?” she says.

“Yes.”

“Morons.”

“Really?” Tyrion replies. “In that case, I challenge you to a battle of wits.”

Tyrion proceeds to fill two goblets with wine, and then turns his back to his sister. When he returns, he places one in front of Cersei and one in front of himself.

“In one of these glasses, I have placed an odorless poison called briocane,” he says. “The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right and who is dead.”

“But it’s so simple,” Cersei says. “All I have to do is divine from what I know of you. Are you the sort of imp who would put the poison into his own goblet, or his sister’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what she was given. I’m not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool; you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.”

“You’ve made your decision then?” Tyrion asks.

“Not remotely,” she replies. “Because briocane comes from Braavos, as everyone knows. And Braavos is entirely peopled with criminals. And criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.”

“Truly, you have a dizzying intellect,” Tyrion says.

“Wait till I get going!” Cersei exclaims. “Where was I?”

“Braavos,” Tyrion replies.

“Yes — Braavos, and you must have suspected I would have known the powder’s origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.”
“You’re just stalling now.”

“You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you?” Cersei says, getting even more excited. “You survived my assassin at the battle for King’s Landing, which means you’re exceptionally strong. So, you could have put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you’ve also convinced the Stone Crows to follow you without being one of their number, which means you must have studied. And in studying, you must have learned that man is mortal so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.”

“You’re trying to trick me into giving away something,” Tyrion says dryly. “It won’t work.”

“It has worked!” Cersei replies. “You’ve given everything away — I know where the poison is.”

“Oh, to hell with this,” Tyrion says, reaching for his sword. He slides it easily into Cersei’s throat. She dies instantly.

A perfect, highly original ending, you think. But you still need an epilogue.

Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options.


A nonsensical twist.


A cliffhanger.

Cersei wine

“It appears we’re at an impasse,” Cersei says to Tyrion. “I can’t compete with you physically, and you’re no match for my brains.”

“You’re that smart?” he asks jovially.

“Ever hear of Varys? Littlefinger? Maester Luwin?” she says.

“Yes.”

“Morons.”

“Really?” Tyrion replies. “In that case, I challenge you to a battle of wits.”

Tyrion proceeds to fill two goblets with wine, and then turns his back to his sister. When he returns, he places one in front of Cersei and one in front of himself.

“In one of these glasses, I have placed an odorless poison called briocane,” he says. “The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right and who is dead.”

“But it’s so simple,” Cersei says. “All I have to do is divine from what I know of you. Are you the sort of imp who would put the poison into his own goblet, or his sister’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what she was given. I’m not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool; you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.”

“You’ve made your decision then?” Tyrion asks.

“Not remotely,” she replies. “Because briocane comes from Braavos, as everyone knows. And Braavos is entirely peopled with criminals. And criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.”

“Truly, you have a dizzying intellect,” Tyrion says.

“Wait till I get going!” Cersei exclaims. “Where was I?”

“Braavos,” Tyrion replies.

“Yes — Braavos, and you must have suspected I would have known the powder’s origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.”
“You’re just stalling now.”

“You’d like to think that, wouldn’t you?” Cersei says, getting even more excited. “You survived my assassin at the battle for King’s Landing, which means you’re exceptionally strong. So, you could have put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you. So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you’ve also convinced the Stone Crows to follow you without being one of their number, which means you must have studied. And in studying, you must have learned that man is mortal so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.”

“You’re trying to trick me into giving away something,” Tyrion says dryly. “It won’t work.”

“It has worked!” Cersei replies. “You’ve given everything away — I know where the poison is.”

“Then make your choice,” Tyrion says.

“I will. I choose — what in the world can that be?”

Tyrion turns around to see what she was pointing at. There’s nothing there. Cersei, meanwhile, has switched the goblets in secret and is now laughing.

“What’s so funny?” Tyrion asks.

“I’ll tell you in a minute,” she replies. “First, let’s drink. You from your glass, and me from mine.”

They both drink their wine.

“You guessed wrong, sister,” Tyrion says.

“You only think I guessed wrong — that’s what’s so funny!” Cersei exclaims. “I switched glasses when your back was turned. You fool.”

“You did?” Tyrion asks. “Oh, crap. I can’t believe that actually worked.”

Tyrion falls dead.

A perfect, highly original ending, you think. But you still need an epilogue.

Your decisions leading to this conclusion have left you with the following options.


An epic downer.


Something completely arbitrary.

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