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"Architects and Gardeners", 16th Apr 2018, 2:14 PM #1
Birb is the Worb
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George R R Martin said something very interesting once, about how writers/creators tend to fall into one of two categories; architects, who plan out everything in advance, and gardeners, who begin writing, and see where it takes them, to paraphrase a lot. I'm sure a lot of people fall somewhere in between, but it makes me curious. Which category would you guys say you fall into most? I'm definitely an architect, I get lost if I just try to wing stuff, and Beyond is planned out a whole lot. I'd say it's pretty close to being completely planned out, to the page. Silk and Sword is different as it's a collab, and Blue's going for a more free sort of approach. Though we do still have a massive doc of plans.

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16th Apr 2018, 2:53 PM #2

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I am an architect all the way. I write the script, I rewrite if I'm not happy with it, I edit it, I do concept art, I make sketches and I will even redo stuff entirely. I never wing it unless it is a stand alone art piece. I just don't.
16th Apr 2018, 2:54 PM #3

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I'm a bit of an architect but I am definitely a gardener. I have a premise of each chapter in writing but its
the dialogue keeps changing especially Birthmarks.


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16th Apr 2018, 3:07 PM #4
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I'm a "broad strokes" architect, I guess. I plan a lot of events or arcs in advance, but I leave the freedom of deciding how stuff happens to my future self, whenever it happens. Details seem a lot more natural when they're improvised, although that may just be because of the silly nature of what I write. I also learned to never underestimate sudden flashes of inspiration when writing something I planned a long time ago. It often leads to priceless stuff.
16th Apr 2018, 3:26 PM #5

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If I had to lean on one end probably architect? Cause like I'm always thinking about a certain story or narrative for a LONG time before I start to work on it. And have a script of the major story arcs but definitely change up the dialogue and little things depending if (when) I get inspired. Don't know if I could plan out every meticulous detail without changing it cause I'm lazy, but I don't think I'd like to just jump in either cause I do A LOT of foreshadowing.
16th Apr 2018, 4:19 PM #6
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That's a really interesting way of putting it; for categorizing writing types. It's like the "Type A and Type B" of creativity, hehe.

Definitely leaning gardener, here.

So many comics are started on a whim, from one idea, with very little planning. There's often one scene or climax that I want to build up to, and really motivates me, but the journey and the wrap-up are uncovered along the way. I love when things just tie themselves up perfectly! (the downside is the stories that were dropped because I couldn't figure out where to take them or the 'journey' took a dead-end turn) But it's much funner and usually comes out better, for me. Planning things too much seems to deflate some of the enjoyment, and I can't seem to pull off too much without it feeling stale or too scripted.

Of course, these are mostly 5-to-50 page mini-comics. The longer ones develop a "skeleton" where I have a vague idea of how it will pan out, but the parts in-between are still improvised.

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16th Apr 2018, 4:32 PM #7

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Yep, I'm the architect that builds a very thorough skeleton of a house, then lets nature take over. I need detailed outlines to work, ones that go over every scene in chronological order in the story, maybe a few quotes I've thought up that I really love, just so I don't forget them, chapter dividers, everything. I get all that laid out first. THEN I actually get into the creating. When I write a novel, it's just writing down prose. I follow the outline in that all the events happen (unless I realize that they're stupid and/or just don't work, so I change or cut them) but I have enough creative freedom to let the characters do their thing within the outline.

I really don't work well any other way. Flying by the seat of my pants means I lose the story and don't have a solid plot, and scripting for webcomics is.... well, it doesn't work well. I keep going off script as I panel and figure out what people are ACTUALLY saying. So no script for the next chapter, just an outline. Hopefully that works better that way.
16th Apr 2018, 4:42 PM #8
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I think it's more of a spectrum than a dichotomy. But I'm mostly a gardener myself. I like to set very loose outlines, leaving plenty of room for the characters to surprise me and develop the story down the most natural path. Of course, going in completely without an outline mostly just leads to dead ends and unwanted tone shifts, so I always need at least some idea of where to direct things.
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16th Apr 2018, 7:24 PM #9
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I'm probably more of a gardener, since I also rely on my outlines to keep things moving, rather than a detailed script. It forces me to reflect on what I've written/drawn previously, meaning things are more likely to make sense if I garden.
That being said, I don't seem to be very capable of weeding! Yet.
16th Apr 2018, 7:47 PM #10
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Obviously Martin has never heard of landscape gardeners, who have to combine both skills, and I'm sure there are writers like that as well - ie, they plan a lot of the details in advance, but still make allowances for improvisation.

Anyway, in terms of plotting Ed Kline falls more into the gardener category, working out the broad strokes of the plot and then filling in the details as the fancy takes him - with a bit of help from me (and previously from Kishma). This has sometimes led his stories through some very bizarre twists and turns, but somehow he's always able to wrap things up logically at the end. Never figured out how he manages it, but I'm not complaining.
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16th Apr 2018, 8:03 PM #11

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Amithea:I'm probably more of a gardener, since I also rely on my outlines to keep things moving, rather than a detailed script. It forces me to reflect on what I've written/drawn previously, meaning things are more likely to make sense if I garden.
That being said, I don't seem to be very capable of weeding! Yet.

Haha basically this exactly! (Except I weed a lot...and sometimes pull out huge chunks of the garden and put something else there instead and kinda feel sad about that X_X)

I have veery little actually written down. And every time I try to write a script the characters want to say something else....and it's a waste of time! Outlines do help me a lot tho-- usually done a chapter in advance. I know generally what I want/need to happen but it's getting there that is up in the air.

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16th Apr 2018, 8:47 PM #12
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I'd say I'm 50/60 architecht/gardener. I do plan a lot, but details can alter everything and further plot stuff can become obsolete once I actually draw the preceding events. I'm much more at home when I just wing it and channel a higher force
16th Apr 2018, 9:05 PM #13

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Nice concept, but as many said, including Jammy, I don't think there's an "absolute". In fact, I'd be wary of a story/storyteller that only operates on one side. Reason being a story should allow for development and changes as it is being written. Even if it's the "architect" variety. There's always a factor not originally planned on or foreseen which impedes, challenges, improves or enhances etc. what had originally been wrought. Not allowing for these unexpected alterations would deny the story's true potential.

To use the metaphor, a gardener doesn't just throw down seeds willy-nilly. Something about the soil should be known, the rows laid out to plant along... The architect's design could be down to the letter, but the customer/corporation that wants the building suddenly decides it needs another executive bathroom, a parking lot on this side and a few drinking fountains, then adjustments have to be made.

So... somewhere in the middle ground for me. My comic is definitely middle ground. I've got a ton planned out, but there's room to explore and create and modify as I go.
16th Apr 2018, 9:08 PM #14
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I'm an architect, mostly. I have written out my story. I didn't want to start something and end up in a corner 3/4 through, so I like to know it all works out in advance. Especially with the amount of work a comic is, it is not at all easy to go back and change things.

I'm not working by a script though, and I'm not even referencing my pre-written story. I'm just going by memory, straight to paneling. To be honest I don't even thumbnail.

So I'm that house with the ivy and plants growing all up the side of it.
I still haven't gotten anywhere that I want
16th Apr 2018, 9:18 PM #15

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My writing's an odd hybrid. I plan out the basic plot outlines waaaaaay in advance, but as for the actually fiddly bits of the story, they kind of tend to write themselves sometimes as I go along. Alvery in particular writes herself quite a bit.

Or she's a voice in my head. Which I could also buy.
16th Apr 2018, 9:23 PM #16
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what is this planning you speak of.. ???

throws stuff around untill it fits and then goes for it.
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16th Apr 2018, 9:57 PM #17

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My actual gardening consists of buying plants that look cool and then learning as I go how well I can get them to grow... sounds like a perfectly reasonable writing process to me!
17th Apr 2018, 1:06 PM #18

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It's a spectrum, not a binary. It's hard to tell when you're on the end of either extreme, but it all boils down to how much of what you do. I always outline my stories in broad strokes but then allow the dialogue and character actions to meander except where it's most important.
17th Apr 2018, 3:23 PM #19

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I'd say I'm a bit of both. Because like an architect, I like planning out my story before I even put it out. I set up the characters, the setting and have the plot all typed out.

The gardener part comes when I actually start drawing the comic. As sometimes the characters I draw would take a life of their own and go in a direction different from what I originally planned.

That makes me a botanist. I make the greenhouse and let my plants grow.
17th Apr 2018, 3:25 PM #20

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PeterVonBrown:Nice concept, but as many said, including Jammy, I don't think there's an "absolute". In fact, I'd be wary of a story/storyteller that only operates on one side.

PeterVonBrown pretty much nailed it. There's definitely a balance between planning out a story (a necessity, as George R.R.R.R.(R?... R? ...) Martin has proved in his own work -- have you read the last two Song of Ice and Fire novels? Yeesh) and allowing room for the story to take shape. It's all part of the creative process, and all fun for me. I draw my comic based off a 300-plus page script/outline that took me nearly a year to write (just the sheer length required something like that), but as I go, it's definitely not set in stone. I've already planned a few places where scenes will move around or drop completely, and the dialog seems to shift every step of the way, from script to thumbnail to pencil to ink (and when I color everything, eventually, it'll probably get tweaked again).
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