Sunday, November 2, 2014

Swooping Through November

If you have writer buddies on Facebook, you've probably seen the latest meme, a quote from Kurt Vonnegut about "swoopers" and "bashers." Otherwise known as "pantsers" and "plotters" and probably a lot of other nicknames, we writers seem a touch obsessed by dividing ourselves into these two camps: we swoop through a first draft, then go back and revise; or we bash out a book sentence by sentence, scene by scene, not moving on until each is done.

I'm not certain why we feel it's so important to claim our tribe. Maybe because writing is essentially solitary, so we cling to anything that creates a sense of not being in it alone. Or maybe we spend so much time working on something before it gets to readers (often years), we need some interim validation along the way. Perhaps our inner students want to prove we do it "right" ("we're bashers, bashers rule, neener neener!").

Well, put me solidly in the swooper tribe. In terms of the joy of writing, there are two pinnacles for me: the sheer rush of the story as it pours out onto the page or screen, an expression of pure connection between my imagination and my fingers; and the profound glow of holding the finished book in hand. Nearly everything in between seems more like work. Which doesn't make it bad, or even unpleasant. It's some of the best work around. But still, it's work.

That's one reason I adore November. By joining National Novel Writing Month, I turn my swooper loose on whatever crazy story idea appears on or about November 1, and come up for air on or about word number fifty-thousand and one. Thousands of other swoopers join the fun, along with a significant number of bashers who speed up their bashing to ridiculous levels.

Like Rita Bay, who threw down the NaNoWriMo challenge here on TWV a few posts ago, I've been able to turn at least one NaNoManuScript into a published book (You, Jane, released this past June). Mostly, though, the fifty-thousand words in thirty-days madness is pure fun.

And why not? There's plenty of slightly-less-fun bashing ahead. Let's go swoop.


Big Mike said...

By the time I hit the keyboard I have all chapters and characters planned out. By the end, much has changed as the stories take on a life of their own.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012

Liz Fountain said...

You're a basher who gives in to the swoop, eh? :) Thanks for the comment, BM!

Rita Bay said...

Hi Liz, This basher will need to swoop, if I hope to win NaNo. I was out of town the first eight days and am seriously in the hole. We'll see!

Liz Fountain said...

Hi Rita - you can do it! Remember, it's the one time of year we'll take quantity over quality!