Thursday, November 13, 2008

Two Types of Writers

Through absolutely no scientific analysis, I have come to the conclusion that there are two types of writers.

To create a good book, a writer must have two things: an intriguing plot and well-formed characters. Everything else (setting, tone, style) comes naturally when those two things are in place. For example: if you want to have a mystery set in a contained area, and two characters who explore the confines of the area, you could have a book set in a distopic futuristic world that is set in a city underground (such as Ember). Although I don't know Jeanne DuPrau, I'm betting Ember started with Lina and Doon and the premise of the city, and the other details, including the setting, developed from that.

Therefore, since two key elements are most essential to writing, there are two kinds of writers: those whose natural tendancy is for plot, and those who lean towards character development. (I suppose there could be another kind, those who just naturall excel at both, but such a thought makes me gag with jealousy.)

Plot-writers figure out the premise of their book first. Their first question is along the lines of "what if X happened?" and they build characters around that idea. The events are most important, and the book focuses on the progression of the plot (what happens next). Their natural talent is tension.

Character-writers know their characters before their plot. They have an idea of a person, and then develop a situation for that person to explore. How the character changes is more important than the plot itself, and the book focuses on the progression of the character (how does So-and-so deal with X). Their natural talent is emotion and perspective description.

Now, obviously, for a book to be successful it will need elements of both kinds of writing. My only argument is that most writers do one of these things very well, and have to work harder at the other.

Me, I'm a plot girl. That's why now, while I'm revising my current WIP, I'm focusing more on character development and adding in more emotion, but I don't think I have as much of a problem in tension or plot twists.

So, is this true? Are there really two types of writers? And if so, where do you land?
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