Thursday, July 31, 2014

There Are Only Two Kinds of Writers (Chances Are You're One Of Them)

For those who missed last week's update (How to Make Money On Your Blog By Selling Swag), the Literary Mercenary now has its own online store! Just check out this link to see my first design, and if you're the sort of person who wants to be vocal about your opinions on whether or not corporations are people just tell your friends to stop by and take a look. It's my avowed goal to get one new design up per month, but depending on how crazy my other professional demands get that might slip to one every two months or so.

You know you want one.
Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yes, how there's really only two kinds of writers in the world.

Well, What Are They?

That's italics for you; no-bullshit and to-the-point. The most common names I've heard for the two types of writers in the world are plotters and pantsers; meaning authors who carefully plot out their stories and those who fly by the seat of their pants. Because I dislike these terms (to me they feel like someone who's teaching a class of third graders how to be writers), I will instead use the ones provided by an author whose career I'd emulate more if I could figure out how; architects and gardeners. People who draw a careful blueprint of the whole structure, and people who bury an idea in fertile soil and see what kind of insanity takes root.

The source of these terms, for the curious.

But Neither One of Those Fits My Style

Yes they do. There are only two kinds of writers, just as there are only seven kinds of conflicts, and twenty kinds of dramatic situations. Whether we like it or not the truth of the writing profession is that mechanically there are only so many colors on our palettes, and there are only so many kinds of brush strokes we can use.

The real miracle is that, with such limited tools, we can still create such a plethora of fiction!

Seriously though, you can still check this out if you want to.
As for myself I'm an architect who likes a little free-flow in my stories. I have a beginning, an end, and a few plot points figured out through the story. How I connect those points I don't know until I get to that particular page. It provides a certain structure, but at the same time allows my story and characters enough free flow that I don't feel like I'm trying to micromanage my own creativity. That's what works for me, but I've spoken to authors who are much more extreme than I am on both sides of the line. I've also spoken to one or two who have very similar methods.

It all depends on how your mind works. Whether you choose to draw an entire blueprint of your short story, novel, or series, or you choose to just bury the idea in a hole and water it with coffee and blood to see what grows is your decision as a writer. If you want to just put up a loose frame for the story to grow around, that's perfectly acceptable too. Maybe you like to write completely blitzed on tequila, or you find you do your best work at 3 a.m. when the world is asleep and the quiet settles in. Maybe you like writing horror, or sci fi, or fantasy, or serious books about serious people who do serious shit.

The point here is that every artist is completely unique, but we're all using the same tools and techniques to create very different masterpieces. What you as an author need to do is find the method that works best for you and to use it to turn out your own masterpiece.

Seriously, don't let other people tell you how to write. But if there's only two methods at either end of a sliding scale, chances are good you fit somewhere on there.

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