The Architect and The Gardener

What kind of writer are you?


Taylor Aguilera, Staff Writer

“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.” George R.R Martin

For people who are trying to write a novel or be an author, this quote might help you know more about yourself as a writer. Do you like to plot and know your story before bringing it to life in vibrant colors ranging from cold to warm, or are you the person that likes watching it unfold before you in your mind, not knowing what might happen next?


When I start typing an article, I don’t know what I want the structure to be yet; I need to get a feel for it. Much of the same can be said for my attempt at writing a novel. When I started writing a novel, I couldn’t plot it and still can’t. I ended up abandoning the novel and planning to return later to it. I haven’t given up on becoming a storyteller though, as I am at work on a different novel. Storytelling is something that I knew I wanted to do since 6th grade. I mention my experience so far as an author because I feel it is important for those that have the same ambition as I.


I could keep going on and maybe write a full two articles describing with detail what it’s been like so far to try to write a novel but that’s not what I really want to talk about in this article. I want to talk about these two categories of writers from what I have experienced and have seen or heard. I believe that any person that is an author or wants to be will fit in one of these categories. There might be the few who switch sides sometimes, but otherwise I feel people stay on one side of the line majority of the time, but it’s not say there aren’t those people who switch it up. Everyone is different.


In a video called Writing Chat: Plotting V.S Pantising from Katytastic they shared the quote from George R.R. Martin. When I heard this quote I knew who I was as a writer. If you are familiar with the term/quote from George R.R. Martin or the term of pantser and plotter, then you would know from my description earlier that when I write I am a panster. I have a vague idea of where I am going but I don’t fully know; I like to be surprised by what happens in my story.


I want to start with the gardeners first because, as I just said, I am one myself and I also find them a little more interesting.


As gardeners, we start the process with a vague idea of what the story is. We know where we want it to go, but we might not know the name of main characters, their personality, and what their all around characteristics are. This can also be said for many other parts of the story too, like settings.


For me I know what the basic structure of the story, where I want it to go and somewhat how I want it to start. It’s like looking through glasses that aren’t yours, the picture is blurry, the details dull. You can’t see the texture on the wall, but you can feel the little bumps, small cracks and the tiny crevices. Is it a light blue, blue, dark blue or maybe a shade of blue that burns brighter than the others, a color that is evenly matched in both the light and dark of the world around it. You can feel the keys tap or the pencil run underneath your fingers. As I said, you watch the story unfold in every burst of color.


When I write like this, I feel as if I am in the story myself. Experiencing what is happening to a character as they go through the howling dark and the daunting light. I imagine this is what writers that use the technique of gardening feel like.


I mentioned some of the pros of this technique already: getting to feel like your are in the story and also getting to see it unfold before you but there are other ones.


People who use the panster method or the gardening method have more ease when they want to take the novel in a different direction. With this, the plot and or characters can be molded or gotten rid of.

I do think for the most part that doing this when you are an experienced writer makes this odd process much easier. To me, the cons outweigh the pros in this but I still use it, because it’s the method that is much more enjoyable to me. With this method though you might find yourself having a more severe writer’s block, this leads to the demise of determination to write the novel you had running through your mind already. Novels are often abandoned to lay there untouched and unseen for days, weeks, months, years and maybe even forever. That is unless someone else decides to pick them up and run for the idea that had been blown away in the storm. This has only happened to me once so far. I got around page one-hundred on a book and quit, but plan to go back. If I am like other gardeners then they also probably go back to the novels.


Plotters have a more organized approach and are lucky that they do. I feel many people are born with the kind of approach that they will take to storytelling. Plotters won’t find them self in the problem of moving from idea to idea because they can’t get out of the figurative six foot hole. A plotters novel gets written more quickly and even smoothly.


As I mentioned earlier, plotters are more confined to the plot and when they decide to change one thing they may have to re-do the whole outline. From what I read, Redoing an outline is not fun.


The only thing to really take from the quote and what has been put down into the article is: you are who you are. To better expand on this, don’t feel like you have to stay on either one of these methods. You are your own person and when you are writing for the most part you call the shots on what you do and how you do it. Plotting your first novel is recommended but you don’t have to do so, as I haven’t. For the gardeners I say this: keep going and if you need to plot you can still be true to yourself and for the plotters, if you want to go a little of the rails or completely give it a shot. Go your way.