This past summer I successfully read Dune for the first time after at least ten failed attempts. In part, I think those earlier aborted attempts were due to my failure to connect with the book, but there was definitely another factor that definitely had an impact: the length. The version of Dune that I finished was nearly 800 pages long and required a serious time commitment on my part. Fortunately for me, I was working nights for a while and had some time on my hands but that was not my normal schedule. Though I enjoyed the book, I came to one inescapable conclusion: it was way too long. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Brandon Sanderson
As a fairly prolific reader, I often get asked for recommendations from people looking to expand their reading list of doom. Over the summer and into the first few weeks of fall, I’ve been catching up on a lot of the books I’ve been meaning to read, and here is my list of the books you should add to your pile right away, as well as a couple that I would recommend avoiding. Continue reading
If there is one thing that I abhor in literature and in real life, it is inconsistency. I also despise inefficiency and incompetency, but those usually apply to the workplace more than to the bookshelf. Still, inconsistency stands out as a peeve that has grown from a cute, cuddly pet—an endearing idiosyncrasy—to an enormous, vehement monster, which is ready to jump out and rant away at any time. Usually this happens when I am alone in my room, but occasionally bursts out during conversations with people who always like me just a little bit less after the fact.
My friends would have me believe—and in fact I actually did believe for quite a while—that I am alone in these crazy tirades, but I have recently learned that I am not. Indeed an entire generation of readers now thinks the way that I do, and our prayers have been heard by the gods of our beloved genres: the Authors themselves. Continue reading
There are two types of people in this world… Ok, ok, there are many types of people in the world, but there are two schools of thought when it comes to writing. Whether they write short stories, full length novels, academic research, or blog posts, most authors either are organizers or explorers.
Organizers believe in brainstorming before they begin writing. They know the direction in which they want to take their readers before they jump into the meat of their prose. I personally enjoy this method most—especially in more formal writing. If I don’t have an endgame in mind, it is difficult to get my writing to move from the beginning to the end at a decent pace. George R. R. Martin, Therefore I Geek’s man of the month as we gear up for the premier of Game of Thrones Season 4, describes these writers as architects.
“I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the explorers. 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 benefits to organizing are obvious. The author knows exactly where he is going. He may start with a bare bones outline and begin to add sub-points or blocks of text. If he gets stuck on one point, it is much easier to move on to the next point or section of the story. I often have short bursts of inspiration that don’t fit where I currently am in my writing. As an organizer with a penchant for outlines, I find it easy to take a break from the parts of my project that I’m in the middle of and quickly jot down the bits that have sprung into my brain. From there it is just a matter of fitting that section under the correct bulleted heading.
Unfortunately, the downside to having a detailed plan is that the author may feel like he’s already written the story, and may get bored of his work before it is complete. This has happened to me several times.
One famous outliner is Brandon Sanderson, author of The Way of Kings, and the brand new Words of Radiance.
The other type of writer is an explorer. These writers follow where their personal inspiration takes them, no matter how many twists and turns that entails. It is less that they have an endgame in mind, and more that they trust their ability to come to a conclusion when the time is right. G. R. R. Martin describes them as gardeners, “The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if they 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.”
Explorers have an easier time of writing in that they don’t feel as much pressure to know where their plot line is going and under what conditions. This style of writing is very story driven, and can feel more natural to the writer.
Unfortunately, the exploration style of writing can also lead to stymied authors, who have run into writer’s block, and cannot take a break to write another portion of their work, because they don’t know where the work is going.
Which type of writer is George R. R. Martin? “I’m much more a gardener than an architect,” he tells fans