There is a great thing called the internet. Maybe some of you have heard of it. I was using this great thing called the internet this weekend and found a writing class taught by Brandon Sanderson (a well-known sci-fi/fantasy author) at Brigham Young University, and you can watch the whole thing for free. I admit to geeking out about this.
According to Mr. Sanderson, there are two kinds of authors: Gardeners and Architects.
A Gardener, gets an idea and then sits down to create a story out it. They usually have no idea where the story is going and each page ends up surprising them. They are great starters, but the ending gives them trouble, since they don’t know how it’s supposed to end.
An Architect is great at world building and outlining the story. They spend a good amount of time doing the background work, and know exactly how the story is going to go before they start writing the first page. The downside to this type of author is they often get stuck in the details of the world building or outlining and never actually write the story.
Most authors are somewhere in between these two.
I have tried my hand at writing outlines and have lost interest completely in the story before I write it, because it’s already been told. So, I guess it’s safe to say I am a Gardener.
With “Uneasy Fortunes” the thing I started with was the idea of a young man who stuttered, so he refused to talk, and he worked with horses. I saw him in my mind’s eye standing in a stable with sunlight slanting through the doorway and dust motes in the air. From there, I built the story. Needless to say, the finished product was worlds away from the rough draft. And that’s pretty typical for me. The one Architectural (some would say redemptive) quality I have, is that before I begin writing, I already have in mind exactly how I want the story to end, so I have no issues with ending.
From what I understand, scary man Stephen King never writes an outline. Whereas, many others (I just don’t know for positive who) write such extensive outlines that the story is almost done when the outline is. They just have to take out the bullet points and fill in the blanks. I would guess that Cinda Williams Chima is an outliner. I would also guess that J.K. Rowling is an outliner. Anyone who has that much detail that all fits together would have to outline at least a little.
And now, here’s the question I’ve been wresting. Which do you think the better way to write? I mean, which makes the better stories? Which type are you?