Novels and programs (was: Re: [plt-scheme] Prereqs for robotic programming

From: Grant Rettke (grettke at
Date: Tue Feb 17 13:41:06 EST 2009

On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 11:21 AM,  <hendrik at> wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 17, 2009 at 10:23:38AM -0600, Grant Rettke wrote:
>> You can't be a successful author without first being a successful
>> novel designer, though; at least if you are writing novels.
> There are authors who cannot write from an outline.  FOr them, the novel
> is what they discover along the way while they are writing, and then
> they have a *huge* revision job when they finish the first draft.

Yes, the same thing happens in software. It is painful and very expensive.

> Others cannot write without an outline.

I talked to an author about this and skimmed some books about "how to
write books". Books, all books, have structure and a plan. They have a
design. It is just like programming. Call it iterations or increments
of deployments or whatever you want they have a plan.

> But other writers confess that they only thing they can use to motivate
> themselves is that they want to find out whodunit.  Once they know that,
> it becomes excricuatingly hard to commit words to paper.

Why?! :)

> The thing is, there are good writers in both camps.

The "non planners" have internalized an approach but don't know how to
verbalize it. They know what they think, but not why they think it.

> Are there similar phenomena in computer programming?

The the non-planners sometimes get away with it and are called
superstarts until they fail miserably and they call in the designers
to clean up the mess! :)

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