Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spatial or Linear Writing Style

Spatial versus linear writing

There are two schools of thought on how to write a book, or story, or article. Some people are linear writers where they put down each event in the piece as it happens and tie it all together. Some people write more spatially by just writing the whole thing and inserting items after the fact to bring it to a successful close.

Either way is fine, there is nothing wrong with writing in the manner that you are most comfortable. If you write a equals b equals c then you are a linear writer, most likely. If you get a whole story done with a bare bones feel, but yet, all out on the page, and find it easier to work backwards and insert information to fill it out, you are most likely a spatial writer.

I believe I have done it both ways during my writing career. That definitely tells me that being one or the other is not a lifelong sentence. You can change methods with each book. One might work better for a mystery than it does for a romance. Good news, eh?

In a mystery, you may have to go back and insert clues, suspects, false leads. That would make it a spatial sort of method, right?

In a romance, you may want to keep the couple apart then together, then apart again, before closing with them together happily ever after. Sounds quite linear, doesn’t it?

It would be very easy to take a book that you enjoy and think of it in these terms and decide if the author was spatially writing or linearly writing when they wrote it. This is a fun exercise for those interested, and I would be happy to hear what you found.

Either way, you can see where thinking in terms of writing style is a good way to flesh out the story of your heart. So – what are you today? A linear storyteller, or a spatial one?


Marta Stephens said...

Interesting post. Just last night I discovered something in my WIP that when changed will make the plot far more interesting. for me it's often happened that as I develop the plot, I dicover new angles I hadn't thought of initially. So to be honest, I think I'm both.

s.w. vaughn said...

Today? Today, I'm a procrastinating writer. :-P

Usually, I'm mostly linear, but I end up going back and plumping things up after the first run (I guess most writers cut things out in edits, but I end up adding them). So I have spatial tendencies. :-)

Sheila Deeth said...

Interesting. I'd not heard of linear vs spatial but it makes sense.

Kim Smith said...

Hey y'all! I am procrastinating too, to promote A Will to Love. I guess I sort of did that one linearly 'cuz I wrote a while, quit. Wrote more. Quit. Rewrote all. Quit. It took a LONG time to get those precious words on the page for that story. I think the story is better for it though. Hope you all will read it and tell me!!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

I'll be first in line to read A Will to Love, Kim! Can't wait, I love your style.

SW, "spatial tendencies." You crack me up. I follow your method exactly - write it all out in one linear burst, then go back to fine tune later. ;o)

Maggie said...

Hi, there !

I am a spatial person. I find it difficult to write in a linear manner, and I usually react more to symbols, metaphors, key words and chunking.

I think your blog post has been very helpful in giving me an important confirmation about my writing style.

I have been worried about why linear writing hasn't worked for me.

I look forward to similar blog posts in the future (about Styles and Personalities), if it's not too much to ask.

Thank you.