by Deren Hansen
approaches that can be used as you would any other tool.
That said, it is easier to illustrate some ideas with dichotomies like architect vs. gardener.
important part of writing intentionally is writing confidently. Last
week I made the case that gardener is a better model for discovery
writers because gardening involves preparation, and preparation is a
fundamental part of writing intentionally.
architect, as the epitome of someone who plans out every detail in
advance, is the poster child of intentional writing, right?
Not necessarily. There's such a thing as too much preparation.
once interviewed with a company for a software development position,
turned down the job, and then wound up working for them a year later.
During the first visit, they showed me the design for the software
package they planned to build. A year later, when I set to work actually
implementing the software, I found stacks of paper with increasingly
detailed designs, culminating in the pièce de résistance: printed
flowcharts filled with code. Had they skipped the flow charts and put
the code in source files, they likely would have had running software.
particularly those who work in the fantastic and need to create worlds
with consistent history, economies, religions, languages, and magic
systems are particularly prone to a malady that Brandon Sanderson calls,
"world-building disease." It doesn't help that the mythology about the
mythology of Lord of the Rings makes much of the fact that J.R.R. Tolkien spent twenty years building his world before he wrote the novels.
Computer scientist Terry Winograd's
answer to the tendency to over-specify software projects is a new
vocation he calls, "software architect." Like real architects, they must
be able to work across a range of concerns, going from a meeting with
the structural engineer that's all about bearing loads to a meeting with
a client who wants a house that says, "Soaring! ... In mauve"
A true architect is more flexible that you might assume.
writer as architect needs to avoid the trap of forever planning and
never writing. Your goal is not to fully specify the story. Instead it
comes back to writing with confidence. The challenge for the writer as
architect is to have faith that your preparations have been sufficient
and that they provide a framework in which you can solve the story
problems that will inevitably appear as you proceed.
And then write.
Don't fall into the trap of inserting your code into flow charts when you should be building running software.
Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. Learn more at dunlithhill.com.