From Harry Potter and Wikipedia to Persian poetry by Rumi, literature is designed. Phenomenologically, we may read into literature as a mirror reflecting the author. Structurally, with language as the basis of cognition, literature is its own source for both the author and reader.
Literature can be approached by just about any design school to form a literary school of thought. Marty Seigel’s PRInCiPleS and themes of design are one of many examples of a design process / criteria for good design that I have been able to easily apply to literature. Predispositions, research, insights, concepts, prototypes and even a strategy may all play a role in a pre-writing exercise. All literature is ‘user-centered’, where the user could be either authors or readers. ‘Transparency’ is a major goal through the use of vocabulary, creating settings, characters etc. Literary ‘imaginativeness’ may be at its peak when unique arguments are formulated. Grammar and the flow of an argument play major roles in the ‘ease of learning’. Good books have also often been revised through a process of ‘continual redesign’. It may be perceived as a ‘craft’ and always involves ‘tradeoffs’. The most common literary tradeoffs I encounter these days are in the use of vocabulary. Thesauri are very handy for that.
Pre-writing is a technique we are all familiar with through the process of design. Design is arguably the most difficult part of writing. For those in design school, we know the significance of a powerful ‘design argument’. Similarly, we now emphasize literary arguments through the process of pre-writing. For the ‘first stage’ of pre-writing we are exploring our design space, and the ‘chaos to order stage’ may be perceived as enhancing our space based on constraints. Although we have been presented with some foundations for effective pre-writing, I am sure we are all using our own design techniques in order to create unique pre-writing arguments.
In addition to those literary techniques presented (e.g. sketching, separating out paragraphs, etc.), which design techniques have you found effective for pre-writing?