Friday, February 17, 2012

Betty Flowers: madman, architect, carpenter, judge

Betty S. Flowers says that one who writes must be, in turn, madman, architect, carpenter, and judge. I’ve found this four-part metaphor tremendously useful in helping students to see the different kinds of work that good writing requires.

A related post
Granularity (“one thing at a time”)

comments: 4

Daughter Number Three said...

Love that. Thanks.

Michael Leddy said...

You’re welcome, DN3.

Richard said...

I agree, completely, about the usefulness of Betty Flowers' four-stage model. (I love her name, too.) I first learned about it many years ago at a legal-writing seminar taught by Bryan Garner, who is a big fan of hers. A large part of its value, for me, is the emphasis it puts on brainstorming (the "madman" stage). I do a lot of writing in my work (briefs in criminal appeals, etc.), and every one of these projects begins with writing, on my computer, over many different sittings, pages and pages of brainstorming notes. You can't possibly have a good idea, it seems to me, unless you're willing to have, along the way, ten (at least) not-so-good ones.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, you almost always have to start with more than you will end up using. Contrast the model for many student-writers: running out of steam and having to think up something else to toss in.

I learned about the Flowers model from Garner too; he writes about it in Garner on Language and Writing.