Two kinds of writers

“I’ve always said there are – to oversimplify it – two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running, and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up. I think all writers are partly architects and partly gardeners, but they tend to one side or another, and I am definitely more of a gardener. In my Hollywood years when everything does work on outlines, I had to put on my architect’s clothes and pretend to be an architect. But my natural inclinations, the way I work, is to give my characters the head and to follow them.

That being said, I do know where I’m going. I do have the broad outlines of the story worked out in my head, but that’s not to say I know all the small details and every twist and turn in the road that will get me there.”

– Kurt Vonnegut

I agree with Vonnegut’s assertion that all writers are partly both, but I certainly consider myself far more of an architect; I draw out elaborate outlines of my entire story sometimes months before I even write the first sentence.  That said, once I start writing, I don’t strictly follow the outline.  When the characters spring to life, they often decide to take separate paths from my original outline, and I allow them the freedom to do so.

Anyway, I’m currently enjoying a brief sabbatical in Helen, Georgia this week.  I’ll catch up with you guys next Thursday.

-Nicholas Conley


9 thoughts on “Two kinds of writers

  1. I’m much the same way you are. I write up an outline and all the character arcs and generally have a plan, but how closely I stick to that can be hit and miss. That’s not always a bad thing, I’ve found.

  2. Interesting outlook on writers. I tend to avoid strong either-ors in most of the thing I look at in life, including passions. Looking at what Vonnegut had to say regarding the personification of the author, i’d tend to float towards gardening; though, i’m not sure how much gardening one can do without first knowing what kind of seed you are planting. Authors have objectives, i’d imagine, though sometimes what blooms isn’t exactly what we intend.

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