The Writer as an Archaelogist

I never really thought about my writing process until someone asked me. I just assumed all writers were like me, and we just…wrote. It wasn’t until I was speaking with my talented uncle and fellow writer Alex F. Fayle that I realized we have very different methods to our madness. My uncle is a plotter – before he is fully writing scenes he has the book plot laid out, and all the questions answered that he wanted answered (plus creating a few that he perhaps will answer later). He is flexible as the story unfolds, but before that happens he can have up to ten pages already written outlining the plot.

I hate outlining the book first. In school, we would get plot outline templates to fill out. The ones that looked like this:

I couldn’t do them. I would write the story first, and then go back and fill them out the information.

There is nothing wrong with this style of writing. It is organized (which I love), simple (also great), and motivating (you know where it is going). And it makes me cringe.

That got me thinking…what is my style?

My writing style is different. I see pieces of scenes in my head, and write them down. They are never in order, and do not link together. I write and write and write all these scenes until no more pop into my head. What I am left with is a disjointed mess. And that is when the magic begins.

I am an archaeologist.

Not literally of course (though that would be super cool). I dig up an area. There are broken pieces, pots, ceramics, bones, chairs, whatever you can find. I might start in this section, or move onto the next. In the end you have pieces, and fragments of a story. You rearrange the fragments to create a whole piece. With your whole pieces, you find common threads, and make links. This becomes the story.

The same with paleontology. Personally, I think dinosaurs are rad (and don’t get me started on the deep sea). Paleontologists uncover pieces of dinosaur bones. Some skeletons are whole, and that’s great. Others are missing fragments, or have multiple type of dinosaur bones all jumbled together. Taking the pieces, they find what fits, what doesn’t, and make the links as necessary. And in the end, you get a Tyrannosaurus Rex, hopefully with a side of Jeff Goldblum.

And that’s what I do when I write. I find the dinosaur. I find the story.

Do you like to write or create? What is the method to your madness? Are you more plotter or archaeologist? Let me know in the comments!


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