Recently Rolling Stone has inspired a couple of posts. Once again the current issue has something interesting, worth sharing, concerning how much planning goes into a story. As you might expect, this comes through an interview with an author, in this case George R. R. Martin. You might be familiar with his works on the “Tale of Fire and ice” series, recently turned into a little TV show “A Game of Thrones”. I might have covered it a few times in TV Vegetable.
It is a decent interview, especially his opinion on the use of sex in the series and how it relates to US culture. However in the part I am concerned about George was asked a question about how much he plans his stories. He starts by describing story writers as two types, either “architects” or “gardeners”. The architect knows what he will be building, has detailed plans, knows where the walls, will go, where the pipes will be laid and so on. The Gardener plants a seed and watches it grow. The gardener knows what is expected to grow i.e. the type of plant or flower, but not exactly when or how, there are plenty of surprises on the journey.
Obviously these are analogies of how someone plans a story. He explains how he is closer to a gardener (in the context of a game of thrones):
“I know the ultimate end to the series and I know the fates of all the principle characters, but there’s a lot of minor characters and other details that I find along the way… it’s about the journey not the ultimate destination”
If you have read any of this series of books, you will know how long they are, and how they have a lot of characters, and jump perspective a lot. This allows for a lot more with the minor characters, but still, you’ve got to love his approach. This is the approach I try to take, to have a basic spine of the story, and certain events which need to happen. But I also try to see also what happens as I write it. I’m still learning, and this approach seems to work for me. I would be happy to come up with something half as good.
Obviously either approach has it’s positives and negatives, and some approaches are better suited to different types of story, e.g. the architect approach to a murder mystery. However, generally speaking you may stick with one approach. Which approach do you take?
Lexicon word of the day: impecunious.