If you’re trying to create something, you’re going to do your best work when you are least aware of your fans.
Game of Thrones fans know what I’m talking about.
After six amazing seasons of storytelling, Game of Thrones found itself a bit adrift in its seventh season. There was no writing from original A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin to serve as the backbone for the continued story. And so the Game of Thrones screenwriters, wanting to please adoring fans, did just that.
They made inside jokes that fans would get. They did a lot of cool stuff and had a lot of cool character cross-over interactions. They even had Ed Sheeran make a cameo (trying to appeal to their teenage girl demographic? \_(ツ)_/¯)
In the end, I (and a lot of other GOT fans) think that Season 7 fell short of great storytelling. And it was made worse, not better, by the writers’ efforts to please fans. Plotlines were forced, jokes were forced – I felt less surprised and more winked-at.
Game of Thrones – like most creative work – became popular and earned fans because it was a good story. It did its job well, and it approached the knights/dragons fantasy story in a unique way. The story served the author’s overall vision. That in turn attracted people who wanted something new and good and driven. George R.R. Martin created Game of Thrones after decades writing science fiction + fantasy, and he wrote it before he had fans.
It’s a lot harder to create after you have fans.
I still enjoyed Season 7, and I hope the best for the recovery of the show’s mojo. But I really hope that the showwriters are ignoring things the show’s fans are saying on blogs and forum threads around the Internet (including, I suppose, this blog post).
You can’t let your fans write your story, even if you have a lot of them. You’re bound to disappoint them when you do.
Perhaps the best thing for creatives to do is to get to know human nature. That may be a better guide to creating good and popular work than listening to what people say they want.