Scott Finlay's "The Agile Development of a Novel" Post

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I came across this post by Scott Finlay which somehow caused a bit of an epiphany for me regarding the production of fiction: The Agile Development of a Novel.

He compares processes for the production of software with processes for the production of fiction. Directly comparing these two things seemed to unlock something I kind of knew but hadn’t consciously acknowledged before. I’d say the key insight was the intersection of the “try it and see” exploratory approach, and the “visual storyboard plan” approach. These are similar for software and fiction and share some of the same effects on the whole process.

Using a visual planning approach, you can build up a scaffold to then explore from, and vice-versa. The two processes feed into each other back and forth to build up the product. I also appreciated the point that sprints as used in software development methodologies also make sense in the production of fiction. A sprint is used to expand some of the scaffolding from planning into the full product.

The idea of documentation for fiction writing is good as well:

“As a writer, documentation comes in the form of notes like character bios, timelines, and glossaries. Such notes are essential for keeping consistency across your book.”

Continuing the software development cross-over, there’s the idea of QA for fiction writing. Again, this seems intuitive or even obvious, but it’s helpful to explicitly consider the similarity:

“When you do find a plot hole, it can take a lot of thought and re-planning to fix it, and sometimes requires a lot of effort to locate the optimal place to resolve it. This process is similar to debugging when a bug or issue is identified in the code.”