Are You a Gardener or an Architect?

“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. 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. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”

I am totally fascinated by this quote because I’ve been told time and time again that, as a writer, I should be creating outlines. I should have my whole story planned out, I should know exactly where I’m going and how I’m going to get there.

Which, to me, takes all the fun out of writing. A lot of the reason I write is because I want to see what my characters do, where they will go, how they will react, what they will say. For me, I write like a reader – I don’t really know what everything means until I’m done with the story. I’m in it for the fascination of discovery.

This also blows my mind because there is so much detail and complexity to Game of Thrones in particular that it’s difficult to even imagine that he made it up as he went along! I haven’t done a lot of world creating and that kind of endeavor is complicated and you might need a few hundred spreadsheets just to keep track of everything!

So I’m definitely in agreement with George R.R. Martin here – I’m a gardener. I start out with a romance novel and end with a very dark, very intense crime/drama romance novel. I start out with a romantic comedy and I find that there is actually a lot more depth to the story than I initially imagined.

That’s fun for me. But I think taking the architect approach is perfectly legit, too.

Which are you? What are the benefits of being an architect? Why does that appeal to you?

2 thoughts on “Are You a Gardener or an Architect?

  1. This is a very good quote. For myself I am more of an architect, but only at the start. I come up with an idea for a story and like to map it out to know where it will go from point a to b. Once that is established then I go to work and bounce all over the board. Maybe that map stays true, but then again that map can also be rewritten depending on a mood swing or even an idea that I or someone else suggested. It is a fun process.

    Liked by 1 person

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