“Some people I met thought we have to find the story’s through line. Who’s the important character? Somebody thought that Dany’s the important character – cut away everybody else, tell the story of Dany. Or Jon Snow. Those were the two most popular characters to build everything around, except you’re losing 90 percent of the story. “ - Rollingstone 2014
“[T]hey couldn’t get a handle on the size of the material, the very thing that I set out to do. I had all these meetings saying, “There’s too many characters, it’s too big — Jon Snow is the central character. We’ll eliminate all the other characters and we’ll make it about Jon Snow.” Or “Daenerys is the central character. We’ll eliminate everyone else and make the movie about Daenerys.” And I turned down all those deals.” -Time Magazine 2017
These two quotes are probably the most important quotes from George because he plainly states that the story is not just about Jon/Dæny. George narrows them down to being only 10% of the story. Are they important? Yes. But so are a host of other characters.
“So all that time I thought Gandalf was dead, and now he’s back and now he’s Gandalf the White. And, ehh, he’s more or less the same as always, except he’s more powerful. It always felt a little bit like a cheat to me. And as I got older and considered it more, it also seemed to me that death doesn’t make you more powerful. That’s, in some ways, me talking to Tolkien in the dialogue, saying, “Yeah, if someone comes back from being dead, especially if they suffer a violent, traumatic death, they’re not going to come back as nice as ever.“ That’s what I was trying to do, and am still trying to do, with the Lady Stoneheart character.” - Time Magazine, 2017
Death does not make you stronger or nicer. Applying this to Jon, he is not the same and never will be.
“At some points, when [Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] and I had discussions about what way we should go in, I would always favor sticking with the books, while they would favor making changes,” he said. “I think one of the biggest ones would probably be when they made the decision not to bring Catelyn Stark back as Lady Stoneheart. That was probably the first major diversion of the show from the books and, you know, I argued against that, and David and Dan made that decision.” - Time Magazine, 2017
Leaving Lady Stoneheart out was something George feels is a big mistake, we can assume that Lady Stoneheart is integral to the storyline in the unreleased books.
"It was the summer of 1991. I was still involved in Hollywood. My agent was trying to get me meetings to pitch my ideas, but I didn’t have anything to do in May and June. It had been years since I wrote a novel. I had an idea for a science-fiction novel called ”Avalon. I started work on it and it was going pretty good, when suddenly it just came to me, this scene, from what would ultimately be the first chapter of A Game of Thrones. It’s from Bran’s viewpoint; they see a man beheaded and they find some direwolf pups in the snow. It just came to me so strongly and vividly that I knew I had to write it. I sat down to write, and in, like, three days it just came right out of me, almost in the form you’ve read.”- Rollingstone, 2014
The Starks sparked the idea, and are at the very root of the story, but not the entire story. This also emphasizes that this book is not just about a bastard and dragon. +Bran is important, though the show fails to portray this.
“You have to remember that I started writing this story in 1991 and I first met David and Dan in 2007. I was living with these characters and this world for 16 years before we even started working on the show. They’re pretty fixed in my mind and I’m not going to change anything because of the show, or reaction to the show, or what fans think. I’m just still writing the story that I set out to write in the early 1990s.” - Time Magazine, 2017
“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up.”
The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it,“ he told the Guardian. "They kind of know what seed it is, they know if [they] planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows.” -2011, The Guardian
“In the case of any of my novels, I know where I’m starting from, I know where I want to end up, more or less,” he said. “I know some of the big turning points along the way, the stuff I’m building for, but you discover an awful lot along the way.Characters rise up and seem more important, and you get to what you’d thought was going to be a big turning point and… the thing you’d thought about two years ago doesn’t really work as well, so you have a better idea!There’s always that process of discovery for me. I know not all writers work that way, but it’s always been the way I work.” -Time Magazine, 2017
Putting these quotes together because they’re implying similar things.
George has a view of where he’s going but that doesn’t mean things can’t be reimagined. For an example, George’s original outline is almost completely different from the books we have now, but a few parts of the outline are still there, but taking shape in different characters.
“I did consider in the very early stages not having the dragons in there. I wanted the Targaryen’s symbol to be the dragons, but I did play with the notion that maybe it was like a psionic power, that it was pyrokinesis — that they could conjure up flames with their minds. I went back and forth. My friend and fellow fantasy writer Phyllis Eisenstein actually was the one who convinced me to put the dragons in, and I dedicated the third book to her. And I think it was the right call.” -2017 Meduza
“In some senses, Theon is struggling all the way through to be a hero. They both come out of the same situation: they’re both raised in Winterfell by Eddard Stark, but they’re not part of the real, core family. Theon is a ward, and Jon Snow is a bastard son. So they’re both a little outside, but Jon handles this successfully, and Theon fails to handle this. He is poisoned by his own envy and his sense of not belonging.” -2017 Meduza
This quote brings the Season 7 scene with Jon and Theon to mind. Theon tells Jon that he always made the right decision, while Theon made the wrong decisions (choosing the Greyjoys over the Stark family that raised him). Jon will make the right decision.
“So many readers were reading the books with so much attention that they were throwing up some theories, and while some of those theories were amusing bulls— and creative, some of the theories are right. At least one or two readers had put together the extremely subtle and obscure clues that I’d planted in the books and came to the right solution." -The Telegraph, 2014
Extremely Subtle and obscure hints; George’s bittersweet ending will not be predictable. Only a few people have figured out the ending. If your predicted ending involves ultimate good (humans) vs ultimate evil (others), you already lost.