SG Showrunners 34 – Game of Thrones Season 2

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What’s the lowdown?

One sentence review from the editors?

Randall: The intertwining storylines are so intriguing.  Great setup.

Mel: The Game of Thrones has officially started in this season with everyone wanting to be the next king, no matter who has a right to it and who does not. 

Parul: The hunger for power in Season 1 (society genre)  continues and kicks off a war. 


What’s the Global Genre?

In a multi-plotted saga like Game of Thrones, how do you work out the genre and why should you? So why we dissect it is to help us understand why we love it, and why it’s compelling. By analyzing this masterwork, we come to understand how stories are constructed and we might be inspired for our own stories. 

How do we determine the genre? One method is to look at the core event of the season. What is the big showdown that happens towards the end of the series? We have the big battle scene, which is the core event for a war story. But we also have an attempted revolution – Stannis tries and fails to overcome the Lannisters. This is the Society genre. Power battles still rein within the Lannister households and amongst every house

We have a range of values that run through the season from victory to defeat.

Of course, there are other storylines going on alongside these:

  • Horror: (core series storyline): White walkers emerge ready for battle  (life/death)
  • Action: The Stark children are on the run to save their lives. Jon is beyond the wall (against nature – cold, against time – missing uncle, against state – wildlings)
  • Love: A twisted power/ love game between Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon. Robb Stark falls for Talisa Maegyr, culminating in their secret marriage. 

What are the objects of desire?

Lannisters: To win the war and beat down the revolution and to keep Joffrey in power

Renly, Stannis, Daenerys: To gain the throne

Starks: Peace and revenge for the death of Ned Stark

What is the Beginning Hook, Middle Build, Ending Payoff?

Beginning Hook: Tyrion becomes Hand of the King, tries to prepare for war, and rein in Joffrey’s worst instincts. Meanwhile, others lay claim to the throne Renly Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Robb Stark sends Caitlyn Stark to broker an alliance with Renly Baratheon. Daenerys is weakened

Middle Build: Robb wins a decisive victory against the Lannisters at the Battle of Oxcross and angers Joffrey. Littlefinger convinces Catelyn to exchange Jamie Lannister for her daughters. Tyrion uses subterfuge to find Wildfire to use in the upcoming battle against Stannis. Daenerys takes refuge in the city of Qarth. Theon betrays the Starks and takes on Winterfell but the children manage to escape.

End Payoff: As Stannis bears down on King’s Landing, Tywin must decide whether to ride for King’s Landing or move against Robb. Tyrion leads the first attack against Stanis but it’s his father Tywin who saves the day and destroys Stannis. The Lannisters form an alliance with the Tyrells through marriage.  Daenerys fights and plunders Xaro’s treasure ready to buy ships to sail to Westeros.

What are the Obligatory scenes of the Global Genre (War/ Society) 

Editors choose one to discuss. For the full list see the download available.  

  • Randall: Inciting Attack – Rob Stark has numerous victories against Lanisters off-screen
  • Mel: Protagonists’ initial strategy to outmaneuver antagonists fails: Attempts to trade Jamie for the Stark girls fail because of his escape attempt causing friction between Catelyn and Karstarks. Tywin continues to lose battles to Robb Stark. Half of Stannis’ fleet gets destroyed. Tyrion tries to put pieces in place against Cersei to gain more power over her but gets almost killed in the battle by one of her hired gold cloaks.
  • Parul: The Big Battle Scene: protagonists’ gifts are expressed or destroyed – Stannis attacks King’s Landing, Tyrion uses wildfire to defend the seas, but Stannis presses his attack on land and Joffrey hides while Tyrion leads a counterattack.  Tywin saves the day against Stannis in a last-minute surprise attack

What are the Conventions of the Global Genre

  • There is one central character with offshoot characters that embody a multitude of that main character’s personality traits  – Characters like Davos and Jon Snow are the moral end of the character spectrum, versus Joffrey and Cersei who are power hungry and crazy. We have a full spectrum of characters here. 
  • Big Canvas.  Either a wide scope external setting or the internal landscape – The intrigue of the 7 kingdoms and the mystical element of the white walkers who are beyond the wall.
  • A clear revolutionary Point of No Return. The moment when power shifts must be clearly defined and dramatized – Stannis’ forces are destroyed, he has no navy or army or money.
  • The vanquished are doomed to exile – Stannis returns to Dragon Rock
  • The power divide between those in power and those disenfranchised is large – Stannis clearly outnumbered the Lanisters
  • Ironic win-but-lose/ lose-but-win ending – despite overwhelming forces, Stannis loses and Tyrion’s gallant attempts to save King’s landing are shown up by his father saving the day. The Lannisters win is a blow for the Starks.

What’s the point of view?

The point of view has not changed. Similar to the book of G.R.R. Martin, we use multiple point of view characters. So instead of repeating ourselves, let’s answer a FOCUS Question:

What’s the controlling idea/theme?

War lacks meaning and revolution fails when leaders are obsessed with the game of thrones and fail to address the real enemy (and using dishonourable methods)

Focus on: How to write a series? How to hook a reader/ viewer in the first episode/ chapters?

Mel: As mentioned in the last episode, I think GOT captured the viewer so well because right in the first scene, the show revealed the truth about the existence of those mysterious creatures, later called the White Walkers. We as viewers know the rumors are true and we know the ultimate danger lies beyond the Wall, but we have to witness how all the forces play their game of thrones instead without paying attention to what’s happening. So using Dramatic Irony, when the viewer knows more than the characters, was an amazing choice to hook the viewers into this series. As well as not dealing primarily with the fact to what the viewer has become witness to – just revealing it piece by piece over time.

Randall: It’s a good idea to plan the series out through the number of books – and by that I mean, plan what the big reveals are in each book, the important events and the main points of conflict, and do the setups for the big reveals.

What was your favorite part?

Leave your answer in the comments.

Randall: Tyrion stepping up and taking charge of the defense of the castle.

Mel: When we finally see a part of the army of the dead. Because we have spent one entire season seeing all those lords playing their game of thrones while the real threat becomes more and more imminent. And seeing the dead army was just such a great cliffhanger for the next season.

Parul: Tyrion playing political games with Baelish

Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you next time.

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About Melanie Naumann

About Parul Bavishi

Parul Bavishi started her publishing career in the editorial teams at Quercus and Random House and was later a Literary Scout for Eccles Fisher. She now edits Thriller and Young Adult novels through Publishing Uncovered and co-hosts the London Writers’ Salon, a creative writing hub in London where she runs events such as the Pitch an Agent Masterclass. At the Salon, she has interviewed award-winning writers, including poet Amal El-Mohtar, and the journalist and writer Luke Jennings, creator of the Killing Eve series. She believes in the long-game approach to creating work that matters and taking time to hone your craft. She has helped many writers create their best work and would love to help you.

About Randall Surles