Clarion Nostalgia Reading and Two Types of Writers

storyteller coverJust finished reading Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, by Kate Wilhelm, half-writing-tips-book and half-autobiography-of-a-writing-workshop.  A lot of the writing advice is familiar, the stuff that was drilled into us at Clarion (e.g., “No deus ex machina!”), which made for a nice refresher as well as a nice trip down nostalgia lane.  Other parts were less familiar, which made for some thought-provoking reading.

One of the most interesting things that was new to me was the idea that there are two types of writers: visualizers and constructionists.  Visualizers often start with a strong visual image, then work backward to figure out the world and characters where the image came from – sort of inductive writing.  Constructionists are more deductive – they need to know where it’s taking place, what the historical background is, the characters’ birthdays and favorite colors, etc., and then all of that leads naturally to images , scenes, dialogue.  Oddly enough, I lean slightly more toward the visualizer camp, even though my stories aren’t very cinematic. Though lately, I’ve been learning to do a bit more of the constructionist approach and have been enjoying it.

Definitely worth a read for any writer, especially Clarion grads or would-be Clarionites.