1. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Gardners vs. architects

    Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by DefinitelyMaybe, Oct 12, 2015.

    I've recently heard this lecture on youtube.



    What do people think? Can we categorise writers into Gardeners vs Architects?
     
  2. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    Well it's very common way to go about it, it seems most of the fantasy writers refer to this thinking today.

    Personally, I don't really mind about categorising and universal theories.
     
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  3. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    I'm a hybrid: I discovery write my 1st draft, then outline my 2nd draft.
     
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  4. pyroglyphian
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    pyroglyphian Member

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    Thought I was an architect. All that planning kinda appealed to a meticulous streak, however realised recently that I might be a gardener instead.

    Have been writing this novella-type thing by the seat of my pants and it has been much more fun to write that way. Despite it needing considerable editing later on, being off the leash seems to have contributed to a much livelier voice, quirkier, and with a turn of phrase that has pleasantly surprised me upon reading back over. By contrast the previous WIP – a longer novel – has apparently had the life planned out of it.

    The proof is in the potato I guess. The former I've been hitting like 5000 words each week. The latter I'd be lucky to get 400 a week – so burdened was the spirit with blueprints and spreadsheets.
     
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  5. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Discovery for me, no doubt about it. I explore my worlds and characters, I don't build them. And I definitely need to learn how to write endings, just like the video says. My poor fantasy novel is still hanging after 15 years, stuck at 90%. And needs a shit ton of editing...

    *checks notes* :read:

    Yeap, there's some outlining going on too. Major plot points, character nuances, quotes and quirks I must include. @Tenderiser Somebody is going to get vampired.

    @Inks, I suspect you're (mostly?) an outliner. :whistle: All that world-building you do.
     
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  6. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    @Imaginarily - No, I am a discovery writer.

    Just started with the beginning of the universe... not even a plan in mind. A voice called out and Ibiki was just there... She began guiding me as if to experience life as she did. With no history, memories, symbols, constructs, language, nothing... it all came from zero. I started writing on August 5, and I've been keeping quiet about a lot of things in the world. Parts of it are really bleak...
     
  7. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Ah! :-D I love being proven wrong.
     
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  8. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    Eh!? You say that, but you have really shaken my writing because the 400k words I've written are in that very dense and convoluted prose! I would not be able to write at all if I was an architect writer! I will need a great editor and someone with a good eye just to hammer my draft into shape - your advice has made climbing the sheer cliff of the learning wall ever higher, but there is context showing up in the last 5k words since our chat. This development scares me, but as an architect writer - I'd be paralyzed.
    Keep writing... keep writing. It is like my mantra.:write:
     
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  9. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    :whistle:

    I'm also really good at fucking up people's days.
     
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  10. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Gardeners and architects are just like cathedrals and bazaars. I have always found it interesting how similar the two dichotomies are.
     
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  11. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    This is pantsers vs plotters yeah?
     
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  12. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Those are two broad categories - and Sanderson knows there are a lot of gradations (I listen to his podcast "Writing Excuses" and they dwell on this in several episodes). But writ large you do have those two categories in terms of the methods people use for constructing a first draft.

    Some are pure outliners like Sanderson (he does essentially a scene by scene breakdown of his entire book before he even starts writing) and some really pure "discovery writers" like Steven King who literally don't know what will happen next as they write. But you have people in between who have less thorough outlines, or discovery writers who have a larger plot in mind that may or may not be written down. In my case I consider myself a discovery writer because I don't have a written outline, planned chapter outlines at the beginning, or a storyboard of any sort. But I do have a somewhat detailed plot planned out, I usually outline each chapter when I start on it, and occasionally I'll outline a few chapters ahead of where I am.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2015
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  13. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's an important skill - the thing about discovery writers is that we know going in that the first draft is always going to be structural garbage even if our story is great. The difference between an Architect and a Gardener isn't that Gardeners disregard structure, it's that an Architect does the structural work on the front end while we Gardeners have to do it after the first draft (pruning, to continue the metaphor).
     
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  14. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    That's my thinking. It's basically just another way of describing the pantsers and plotters. I think I'm a strange hybrid as well. I want to try and get it all down while at the same time have a loose structure of an outline to guide me on the path. It's not rigid, nor is it just scattering seeds everywhere to see what will grow.
     
  15. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    Very helpful! Thanks for posting. All of a sudden I'm over the guilt I've had over abandoning my well thought-out outline.
     
  16. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Definitely a pantser, myself. WIP is 250K words, and will probably become two books.

    Began almost twenty years ago, when I learned that the Romans had a presence in the court of China in 166AD, and I wondered, "Wow! I wonder what the very first mission to China would have been like?"

    Started writing, characters emerged, and they each told their own story. I literally had to hurry downstairs to write the next chapter, to find out what happened next to Gaius Lucullus, Antonius Aristides, and of course, the beautiful but sorely troubled Marcia Lucia/Si Hoar (Western Flower). (Had to learn at least a little Chinese!)

    Took a break to edit when it was about half done and discovered that editing was a motivation killer, it sat untouched for at least ten years. Now finished, on its second edit, and I still enjoy reading their story (not mine!).

    Couldn't have planned it, didn't know enough about the 1st century world to do so. I figured that some transplanted Roman soldiers (real, not fictional, the fictional Marcia Lucia's ancestors) in Liqian in Gansu province would want some real red wine, not white rice wine that the Chinese drank then... imagine how I felt when I found out that Chinese red grape wine originated within 30 miles of there 2000 years ago! And when I google-earthed Liqian's location so I could describe it properly, there is a low hill to the east of town that is just perfect for a nice vineyard. Now if the archaeologists turn up some old white glazed pottery wine bottles there with Liqian in Chinese on one side, and a six-teated wolf and SPQR on the other, I will really get spooked.

    Writing is individualistic, follow what feels best to you
     
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  17. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is essentially exactly what I do, though I wouldn't call myself a discovery writer--actually, I would prefer to avoid any kind of label in general, since I think every writer's approach is going to be invariably unique.

    I usually know the beginning, the end, and multiple plot points along the way. Maybe a scene or two specifically. But the space in between is unplanned. And the planned bits can change at any time. But I don't think I could work without some underlying idea of what's going on. The amount I need varies with each project.
     
  18. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Same approach. Basically the starting outline was

    1. Romans went to China by sea, lots of pirates trying to capture ships.

    2. Got to China, some sort of problems in court involving soldier and woman gets one or more condemned to death

    3. Escape somehow, come back overland through Central Asia, with many people trying to kill them.


    Filled in the details as I went along. Often did not know how an individual chapter would turn out until I wrote it. I liked to tell my editor/wife that I wasn't writing, I was taking dictation.
     
  19. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I read a short story about that last night. :D

    Actually I don't know if it was meant to be *the* first but the trade route wasn't established.
     
  20. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm learning about myself. It seems that I do both. I've got a story idea around that is already all mapped out with all sorts of details, even though I haven't written a word of the actual story. There is 471 words of architecture, and I'm aiming for this to be 1000 words or less actual story.

    But sometimes I like to start writing and see where it goes. However, as I'm writing very short fiction, it's possible to hold the whole story in my mind at once. When it gets to nano-fiction of say 100 words. Even then I sometimes map stories out before writing them.

    I think that if I was to write a novel, I'd want to be an architect.
     
  21. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry, Tenderizer, but according to Rome and the Indian Ocean Trade, Rome and the Distant East, and also Pliny the Elder, the trade volume was on the order of 100M sesterces per year, or about $400M in 2015 dollars, using gold as the conversion medium at $1200/oz. (1 gold aureus = 1/3 oz, ~$400, 100 sesterces to the aureus). Pretty well established, just not a lot of physical presence as the trade was mostly second hand through India (silk and Chinese iron). Sometime before 166, they found their way through the Straits of Malacca, because that mission took that route, docked in Rinan (Hanoi) then overland to Luoyang. They were also trading as far east as Borneo, but were concerned about the "naked cannibals" living there, and that required transiting the straits.

    My fictional mission picked up a Chinese pilot in Rinan and continued up to Tianjin and the mouth of the Yellow River. They took a short a short riverboat trip to Luoyang while the ships traded first hand without middlemen.

    The Romans had geopolitical concerns about their frequent wars with Parthia, the Soviet Union of their time. They were concerned (factually) with whether China would align with Parthia against Rome, or could they get China to ally with them... or maybe they should bury the hatchet with Parthia and ally with them against a greater threat from China? They did not know what they were dealing with, other than that China was a mysterious place as big and powerful as they were. The 166AD mission actually proposed such an alliance to China, but the global Antonine plague intervened and put an end to further contacts, and shortly after that, Han China fell.
     
  22. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    No need to apologise, I don't care one way or the other. :p Just saying it's been done in short story form!
     
  23. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry, misunderstood... could you give me title and author ? Didn't mean to wax pedantic

    Lew
     
  24. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It's in this anthology and it's called 'The Discovery'.

    Good anthology, by the way. Although you obvious know your stuff so if the author has got things wrong it might really annoy you. Hopefully s/he got it right. :D
     
  25. Ivana
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    Ivana Contributing Member

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    That's exactly how I write. :D
     

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