Architect vs Gardener

Architect vs Gardner Or Plotter vs Pantser or Outliner vs Discovery writer. Whatever terms you prefer (I like Architect vs Gardener, way more visual!) all devoted scribblers should discover the style that melds with their personality and expected level of productivity.


An Architect is a writer who outlines their story before they begin writing.

The Australian crime writer Lee Tulloch has been known to produce 200 page outlines, crafting her tales, dispensing her crumb clues and sculpting a killer ending, a trade mark to the genre.

Once the outline is complete (a process that could take weeks or months!) the writer then ‘simply’ fills in the gaps.

Obviously there are different levels of outlining. Tulloch’s 200 pages is an extremely detail version but, some authors may simply have an idea of a few key points they need to ‘hit’ in order for the book to work.


  • minimal writers block (you already worked everything out dummy)
  • minimal structural editing
  • higher level of productivity and faster word count rate
  • minimal anxiety.


  • creatively boring because, ya’ll know how it ends!
  • story may feel lifeless/passionless/zesty-less
  • you may dump the whole project because you’ve already ‘figured it all out’
  • you make outlining a new form of procrastination—spending weeks on world building and months on researching and no time actually writing.

Gardener/Pantser/Discovery writer

A Gardener does the exact opposite to an Architect.

They are the ones who write by the seat of their pants. Late night drivers who can only see as far down the road as their headlights will allow, trusting that they will arrive at their destination.

Some famous Discovery writers are Stephen King and George R.R Martin.

A Discovery writer typical gets an overall idea for a book and ‘simply’ starts to hash it out—literally discovering the story as they write it.


  • the writing is exciting and full of surprises
  • more original and organic ideas are likely to occur
  • allows the writer flexibility in the story telling
  • you can start writing right now.


  • increased risk of writer’s block
  • potential to go off on a 10 000 word tangent that takes the story in a completely different direction.
    10 000 + oops you should have turned left at the turnpike not right = a week of writing down the drain.
  • massive rewriting and editing to fix all the plot holes etc
  • potential for a weak ending.

Most authors tend to be a hybrid of these two styles. The Australian YA author James Roy for examples crafts character driven novels. As a result he spends a lot of time outlining the characters but then he allows himself the freedom to discovery write his plot.

Sci-fi author Brandon Sanderson does the opposite however, outlining his plots but then allowing characters to reveal themselves through the course of his writing.

Every writer needs to find the blend that works for him or her, but how do you know if you’re particular blend is working?

It’s pretty darn simple.

Did you hit your word count today? If not, re-examine your approach.

But, if you did hit your word count, yay for you! You can totally go Pinterest your heart out—guilt free!


Imagine: Cotswold Barn by Aileen Mozug


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