Monday, November 21, 2011

Are You an Architect or a Gardener?
One of my writing friends took a class from Brandon Sanderson (author of the Mistborn series and, my favorite, Elantris.)  In one of his classes, he talked about two different kinds of writers: architects and gardeners.  When I first heard this, I thought it was an interesting analogy, but as my friend expounded on why he called them that, it really helped me to understand myself better as a writer. 

Why? I have attempted to be both a gardener and an architect while writing Cobbogoth, and after three years of floundering with several different manuscripts I'd been trying to "cultivate" or "grow," I discovered that I am most definitely NOT a gardener writer. 

What's the difference?  Well, if you're a gardener storyteller, you like to get down in the soil of your imagination and plant a bunch of different things, then see what grows.  You don't really start with a plan, you just kind of start writing and see what comes from it.  You "explore" the story as you write.
If you're an architect writer, on the other hand, you do most of your writing through "blueprinting."  You outline and create the story in pre-production mode.  Once you have a satisfactory plan, then you begin to write. 

See, after I'd spent three years struggling over my story, I finally realized I had way to much going on in book 1.  My second draft was 600 pages +, and could've easily become three entirely different books--I'd planted too many seeds.  On my fifth attempt, I discovered the art of "blueprinting" or "outlining" as its more commonly known in the writing world, and it made all the difference.  After that one outlining session--my son's three hour nap--I had it, the version of Cobbogoth you'll be able to read for yourself in a little more than two weeks!  YAY!  I'm in the process of "blueprinting" my second book in the Cobbogoth series right now, and I have to say, things are coming along so much quicker than when I started writing Cobbogoth, and I haven't even written a line of dialogue yet.

But, while "architecting" has worked for me, I have good friends who are extremely talented writers who "garden" their stories.  Neither way is better than the other, however, understanding what kind of a writer you are will make the writing process all the better for you.

So, are you an architect or a gardener? Let's hear it.


  1. I am definitely a gardener. I'll think of a few things that the story must hold, then allow my characters to choose the path they take and cultivate the rest of the plot as we go.
    I can't sit down and decide a majority of the plot beforehand, or else nothing flows.

  2. Loved catching up on your blog! And Thanks for answering my question about Cobbogoth the series!!! I am excited its going to be 7 books . . . And honestly I hate the waiting part. But its always worth it. And I always reread the previous books right before the next one comes out (even though some people think its crazy I have more than once started a book over the moment I am finished with it . . . And any good book is worth owning so I can read it multiple times). And I think I would be a gardener . . . At least that is how I tell stories to my kids. But I honestly cant imagine having the patience or endurance to write a book. But never say never, right? :) must go preorder your book on amazon . . . Giving it to a few people as christmas gifts!!

  3. Erisnyx, because of how hard it was for me to do the gardening thing, I'm always in awe of people who can just sit down and come up with a story as they go.
    Tamara, thanks for stopping by and catching up! I agree; any good book is definitely worth owning. As far as preordering my book on Amazon, unfortunately it's not availible for pre-order. Because of the type of printer I've gone with, there's no danger of it going out of stock, so that's good news in and of itself.

    Thanks, for stopping by, ladies!

  4. I'm a little of both. I have to garden around an architectural foundation. Does this make me schizophrenic or a landscape architect?

  5. Thank you! This helped alot. I'm like you Aunt Hannah. When I first started my novel (I had the idea from when I was 11) I just started to write it. I knew what I really had to do, but, I thought I could wing it and make something great anyways. I've finally got my head on straight and this Spring decided I'd do things the right way. So far I've got the Outline, most of the main characters names, around six Character Profiles, what I want to happen for the Prologue, and I'm hoping to start on Chapter Outlines soon.
    -Abbigayle Rashae

  6. Kristen, I think as writers we're all a little schizophrenic. I mean, we all have multiple voices in our heads, right?

    Abbi! I'm so glad you found the way that works for you. I think for the first novel it's a bunch of trial and error, but that's the way you learn, and you're never wasting time. Good luck with the chapter outlines!