State Library of Victoria \ Inside a dog
Skip to main content

You're the Voice: Nisma on Architects vs Gardeners

Nov 19,2012
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

"I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners," George R R Martin (author of NOT young adult series A Song of Ice and Fire) once said. "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. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if 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.”

A buddy of mine sent me this quote, and I find it quite intriguing, mainly because so many writers that I know seem to fit more into one than the other, and no one fits into neither.

I think I’m a bit of a gardener. Do you remember when I told you about my first NaNo? None of it was planned, I just randomly spewed out whatever came to mind. It wasn’t that I threw completely unrelated things in – my characters, from industrializing England, weren’t attacked by robots or anything. They just met with possible (if not exactly likely) troubles at every corner, and I was as surprised as they were…okay, not really, I was laughing manically because I really do enjoy tormenting characters.

But I find this works for me. I’m forever impatient when it comes to planning. I have basic notes down, and I guess dot points of the main events – kind of like, if it was a love story (not that I write many of them), it would be like:

  1. Boy meets girl. They hate each other.
  2. Forced to work together in some situation.
  3. Fall in love, the end.

Yeah, literally like that. Very vague, but I have all the details in my head, and for some reason that’s what works for me. When I try get into too much planning, my head implodes, and I die of impatience because all I want to do is write the story already, but nuuuu, I have to make stupid notes on things I already know.

(Of course, if it’s a long story, and I get into writing without putting down all the details… I regret these thoughts… o.o)

Basically, though, planning feels restricting to me – I like having some room for movement, and I do come up with awesome, unexpected, twisted endings that look planned but are so not (not that people know that, of course I tell them it was my planned genius, not my subconscious and… luck).

But I wonder who’s more likely to be a successfully published author?

File 12056I mean, I could bring up JK Rowling and her eons of planning, but I guess you’re sick of hearing references about her. So hear are some others I know of:

My friend and I met John Flanagan – author of the Ranger’s Apprentice – at an event at the State Library… last year, I think.  In his speech, he mentioned that he planned his stories thoroughly before writing – for months and months, I believe.  His stories have been published all around the world, and they’re very impressive – I recommend ^^

Lisi Harrison – author of The Clique series – also mentioned something similar on her blog ages ago (I’m afraid I’m too lazy to go find it now.) She also said, that after much extensive planning, even while she wrote she made a ‘bible’ as she went, of all the little added information that was formed along the way, because she’s very focused on details.

These are some Architects.

File 12064From my own knowledge, the only published Gardener I know is Michael Grant, who writes The FAYZ  series. His books are just as renowned, I absolutely adore them, but from some interview (or perhaps our meeting with him, I kinda forgot), he said that the only ending he had planned was the one which involved Mary and the kids…. I won’t say which, to avoid spoilers (and okay, I don’t remember which one, though I know what happened).

Needless to say, though, the series is amazing, and everything somehow ties together.

But one to two – or three, counting JK Rowling, in terms of Gardeners v Architects still doesn’t look too good.

Do you think that us Gardeners will be perpetually doomed, if not for a lucky twist of fate?

I sure hope not.

Nov 21,2012
@Daydreamer. Rub it in, why dontcha? *glares*
Nov 19,2012
Muahaha, brilliant post. ^^ Not to dampen your spirits, but another architect would be Markus Zusak and the years he spends on planning books like The Book Thief and Bridge of Clay. And Paulo Coleho too. And I think Jodi Picoult. And Dan Brown. Eek, sorry. :P BUT, Stephen King I read somewhere (though I'd double check), doesn't do much planning. And not that I've read any of his books but he does seem pretty famous. :P (Note: Harry Potter references never cease to be awesome. ;) )

Post new Comment

All comments are moderated and will not appear immediately. Please be patient - we're keen to know what you think and will get to your comment as fast as we can.