Back in 2011 Game of Thrones debuted, as George RR Martin published his latest A Song of Ice and Fire book, A Dance with Dragons. Jump forward to 2019 eight years later and the award-winning TV show has ended, with the last few seasons having to go on planned narrative outlines for the books that the author has yet to write. Meanwhile, the penultimate book in his epic fantasy series, The Winds of Winter, still doesn’t have a release date. Although Martin himself has a personal deadline of summer 2020.
But what is taking Martin so long aside from the distractions of the Game of Thrones TV show and its two (for now) spin-offs?
Well, a popular new fan theory argues that the key for The Winds of Winter’s delay is found in the author’s 1993 outline for A Song of Ice and Fire.
Reddit user bh1981, who has had over a thousand upvotes on their post, argues the difference between this and the finished product reveals the truth.
They wrote: “The outline that George submitted to the publisher in 1993 is a fascinating document for a number of reasons, not least of which is that, because of the sheer volume of differences between the outline and the finished text, we get some great insights into how he writes.
“These insights go a long way to explaining why the books take so long, and why the showrunners of GoT had a nearly impossible task once they ran out of books to adapt.
“Comparing the outline to the finished books, we can surmise that GRRM is very willing to deviate from an outline if following it does not feel natural.”
The theorist continued: “He doesn’t just move from point a to b to c, he reevaluates each point when he gets to it.
“I’d guess that he asks himself, ‘Is this adequately set up? Does this make sense for the character at this juncture? Does it make sense for the larger political context? Is it consistent with the themes I’m trying to communicate in this volume? Is it the most interesting, compelling or poignant thing that could happen at this juncture?’
“If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ it seems like he either a) pushes the plot point farther into the future or b) changes it.
“And in either case, he looks meticulously at the butterfly effects and then revises all other plans accordingly.
“This is why the books are so high quality and also why they take forever.”
They added: “I suspect though, that the last book, whether its the 7th, 8th or 9th, will be written much more quickly than the preceding books because he’s taken all this time to set up his elaborate domino sculpture.
“Once he reaches the point where he tips it, gravity will sort of take over and propel the writing process.”
Meanwhile, Martin has revealed his writing order for after he completes The Winds of Winter.
Next up will be a fourth Dunk & Egg story, followed by A Song of Ice and Fire conclusion A Dream of Spring.
After that, he’ll pen a fifth Dunk & Egg adventure before tackling Fire and Blood volume 2.