I enjoyed reading author George R.R. Martin’s analogy about the two different types of writers when it comes to how a story is formed and executed. (Mr. Martin, if you don’t already know, is the author of the acclaimed A Song of Fire and Ice series, which was made into the highly popular HBO series, Game of Thrones.) This is what he had to say:
“I often said that writers are of two types. There is the architect, which is one type. The architect, as if designing a building, lays out the entire novel at a time. He knows how many rooms there will be or what a roof will be made of or how high it will be, or where the plumbing will run and where the electrical outlets will be in its room. All of that stuff before he drives the first nail. Everything is there in the blueprint.
“And then there’s the gardener who digs the hole in the ground, puts in the seed and waters it with his blood and sees what comes up. The gardener knows certain things. He’s not completely ignorant. He knows whether he planted an oak tree, or corn, or a cauliflower. He has some idea of the shape but a lot of it depends on the wind and the weather and how much blood he gives it and so forth.
“No one is purely an architect or a gardener in terms of writers, but many writers tend to one side or the other. I’m very much more of a gardener.”
I, too, am a gardener. I would feel constricted if I plotted everything out with great detail. Part of the magic of writing for me is when the characters take over and show me things I never expected and take me places I had never planned.
What type of writer are you?