Remember in my very first blog post back on January 1st? When I said, “…I’ll be revealing more about who I am with each blog post. Topics will include writing, books, comics, movies, video games, music, food, weather, medieval gardening tips…” (See, I did say it.) You probably thought I was just being sarcastic. Well, I was but also being a little tongue in cheek with an aftertaste of meta.
The following quote comes from author, George R.R. Martin:
“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.”
I’ve written a prior post on outlining and the value of doing so in the short and long run of your writing. I’m more of a rough outliner now than I was when I first started the Ravanguard series. It came out of writing a minor scene found in the first book and I liked it so much, I decided to expand on the idea, developing characters and ideas until I had a general sense of where to start.
However, as I’ve been revising a lot these last couple of weeks, I’ve come back to this idea of being an architect or gardener, which is a term I heard a few years back when listening to one of my preferred Game of Thrones podcasts. The phrase was discussed a bit and I looked for Martin’s quote. Back to the present and I very much consider myself a gardener despite my attempts at thinking ahead and outlining subsequent books in the Ravanguard series.
I’m currently revising chapters 6-10 in “So Speaks the Gallows” (Book 1) and I’m reading through each paragraph, cutting, massaging, polishing, etc. with forethought and understanding I have now that I didn’t have back when I first wrote these chapters. My point (and I do have one) is that I’m able to approach this revision process with a much-needed advantage I otherwise would not have had if I only tried to outline the future books.
Years ago, I had very rough ideas of where these plot arcs were heading. Now that may sound a little chancy and reckless (it is actually) but I had enough faith in my writing to steer the story where it needed to go. So, the gardener writing method was at full play in the beginning but as the years and subsequent books and novellas came into existence, I can now return and trim the dead branches and dig up the weeds, able to have a bit of foresight.
All of this encompasses my writing style. I am not convinced this is the perfect way to write an epic fantasy series and I bet I could write a counterargument that even I would be convinced of. But I cannot shake that this is my method. I’ve worked at this for over a decade and found many things that work and don’t work, still adapting as I edge closer and closer to releasing the first Ravanguard novella to launch the series.
My medieval gardening tips are just that. If you are a gardener more than an architect, continue to process and write in a way that works best for you. Be careful of comparing yourself to others. Writers are quirky folk. Get too many in a room discussing process and method and you’ll have a real kerfuffle on your hands.
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