by Deren Hansen
Briefly, you should know where the story is going. There are certainly
writers who start with an intriguing character or an interesting setting
and develop a story around that nucleus. But if you don't have some
idea of where the story is headed, you're more likely to meander.
Brandon Sanderson says he prefers the
labels gardener and architect instead of discovery and outline writers. I
think there's something important in the occupational analogy.
discovery writers, "gardeners," addresses the fallacy that you don't
have to plan ahead but can simply jump in as start writing. Gardeners
don't simply throw seed out and wait to see what comes up. Based on
their understanding of varieties and growing conditions, they plan which
things to plant in different parts of the garden. Similarly, there's a
fair amount of forethought that goes into deciding what kind of garden
you want to grow. Is it a flower garden that will offer a changing
canvas of shapes and colors as the season progresses? Or is the produce
you'll harvest the main purpose of the garden?
course the gardener doesn't know whether a given seed will sprout and
grow as intended. So they plant more than one. And they cultivate the
garden, weeding, watering, and fertilizing, to make the desired outcome
So if you think of yourself as a discovery
writer, try approaching your project as a gardener, accepting the fact
that there's preparatory work to do. And even though there's a lot you
don't know, if you take a little time to plan your garden and prepare
the soil, you'll find your ability to write intentionally grows--like
Deren Hansen is the author of the Dunlith Hill Writers Guides. Learn more at dunlithhill.com.