There’s two types of writers, in fiction, for the most part (oh that sentence is bad, but it delivers my point).
The first type is called an Architect. An Architect is someone who builds the plot of the story piece by piece, making sure that every face is shown and the ending is pre-designed. Many books on writing suggest that it’s best to fully develop the ending as completely as possible, and allow it as the only possible conclusion to finish the story.
To reach the level of architect, you really need to study The Hero’s Journey as well as how plot points work together. This path tends to build a strong plotline (obviously) and disallows the idea of plotholes. You can write plot by the page and just allow your characters to follow their predesigned routes. The weakness is obviously a lack of spontaneity and fluidity. Orson Scott Card, Robert Jordan, and many others use this system to write massive epics.
My novel “The Boy and the Stick” is written using the architect manner. It takes quite a bit longer to write, but I need less revising overall.
The second type, I call streamer, is suggested by the grandmaster of horror himself, Stephen King. King wrote, in his novel “On writing”, that to preplot the….plot, kills the story. He had a belief that forcing your characters to follow a road will kill anything that makes those characters and story “special”.
To reach the level of streamer, you need to have a basic understanding of whereever you’re placing your characters i.e. magical world, scifi world, real world, and then move on from there. The streamer steps into the shoes of his characters, and lets them take him for a ride. King is often quoted as saying “I was really surprised by where my characters took me”, meaning those characters are a partition of his mind that he allowed free reign in his imagination. This is difficult to do, but practice makes perfect. Author examples for this are obviously Stephen King, as well as James Joyce.
My novel “Creation” is written in the streamer manner. It’s very fast in the writing portion, but even after only writing the first two pages I found glaring issues. I’m not going to review my own writing unless it’s for reference as that way begets madness.
The third and obvious choice that isn’t normally listed, is half and half. Brandon Sanderson is the example used for this. Sanderson likes to write up a page or two for each chapter, as well as the ending of the book, but doesn’t go much further. He believes it allows for the best of both worlds, and as he is my favorite author of all time, I’d agree with his analysis.
There’s nothing wrong with taking pieces from any one method. I’d highly suggest that nobody strain themselves in listening to an author state “this is the only way to do it”. The idea that you can write a bestseller, or just a really good book, by strictly following the advice of a bestseller/great writer is simply a bad idea.
Gandhi stated “There are as many religions as there are people”. I’d say it’s the same with writing a book. There are no wrong ways to write a book, but the best way is surely YOUR way.
Categories: Discovery and Writing Tips Thoughts and Tips
I'm a high school English teacher in Texas. I also hold degrees in radiography and radio and television broadcasting. Though I obtained certain knowledge and skills from my prior degrees, I do not currently use them.
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