"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'" ~ C. S. Lewis

Monday, August 29, 2011

Are you an architect or a gardener?

I found my notebook from Polaris! Yeah! Which means that I now have lots and lots of notes so I will spread this out over several weeks. But it also means that I don't have to worry about what I'm going to post as I get back into the swing of school!

Most of you have heard of the terms "plotting" and "pantsing" but at the panel on "Details, Filler, Plot" Brandon Sanderson referenced the terms "Gardener" and "Architect" - a gardener is a pantser. They kind of just let things happen organically, planting seeds as they go, but unsure exactly how the end product will look. The architect is the plotter. They have blueprints and plans and have a fairly good idea what the finished product is going to be, though of course there are always surprises along the way.

I really like those terms. I am a mixture of those two, so maybe I'm an architect of gardens?

One of the panelists also used a quote from Neil Gaiman saying that writing is like "Jumping out of an airplane and knitting a parachute before you hit the ground." Which made me laugh because it is SO true. Whether you're a plotter or a pantser, an architect or a gardener, you are jumping out into the unknown and hoping everything makes sense in the end.

Brandon also said that the best way to learn how to plot a book is to write one that's a total disaster because you didn't plot it right. That will teach you more than going to a hundred panels on plotting or reading a bunch of books.

The one thing that was emphasized over and over (which I mentioned before) is you have to practice. You have to write. If you're in the middle of a story and realize you forgot something, don't let it slow you down. Make a note of it, go back if you can, but avoid the eternal rewrite if it's keeping you from actually finishing. MUST FINISH.

So, are you an architect? Or a gardener? Or a mixture of both?

4 comments:

Dangerous With a Pen said...

Must finish. Must finish. Must finish. Must finish. Must finish...

Anne Gallagher said...

I'm a gardener at first. I throw stuff into the ground and see what sticks. (I start writing to page 100.) Then, when things start growing, I pull out the weeds and rearrange the plants, and usually plant new stuff where the weeds were. (By page 100, I have the bones in place, but then work out a pantsing outline to keep me in line.)

Great post.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

i like the terms, but i don't think he's correct in how he uses them. Any hardcore gardener will tell you it takes a crap load of planning ahead of time, making sure everything is layed out correctly, constant weeding, thinning, making sure the garden is in the right place so it gets enough sun.
I think gardening is more structured than he realizes. Maybe a better thing would be like a prairie, where things just grow wild and free and you never know what you're going to get.
BUT! that's just my opinion, natch

Talli Roland said...

Love the terms! I always build a base so I know where the story is going generally. Then, I just kind of go with the flow!