Magical Words: Bashers vs. Swoopers

Photo by Don Stott on Unsplash

I’m pretty sure everyone reading my blog at this point knows if they are a plotter or pantser. I’m a mix – plotter – extremely so – for long works … which is one of the reasons I think they never get done; I get caught up in the wonder of worldbuilding. On the other side of things, I’m a pantser for shorter works – embracing the joy of writing quick flashes to get story ideas out. Right now I trying to see if I can plot with one sentence for a chapter outline, a very lean outline of just one or two dozen thoughts, then pants each chapter back-to-back.

I’m still, after all this time, learning to write effectively and productively, as well as embracing into the joy and wonder that has kept me exploring writing for so long.

Edmund Schubert in his Magical Words post from June 8, 2012 raises a similar question – “Bashers vs. Swoopers.” These are terms Kurt Vonnegut used to discuss writing styles. Swoopers write quickly, like a flash or Nanowrimo, planning to fix-things-in-post and Bashers move forward one written then hardened then polished sentence at a time. It’s an interesting thought.


WRITING EXERCISE: Comment below on your writing style below. Are you are plotter or pantser; swooper or basher?

My Attempt: I’ve already covered the plotter vs. pantser above. As to Swooper or Basher, I’m about halfway between. I do a lot of internal editing as I go. I guess I write about half as many words as actually make it to the final computer screen by the end of the first draft. So not a willy-nilly breakneck past down the hill in a soapbox cart, but not a snail-pace crawl of back-stitches with two steps back for every step forward. After the zero-draft is done for pantsing flashes and blog posts, I read it through – then copy it to a different program which will make it appear differently on the screen and read it again. Then post it. After all these aren’t sales product. Short stories and novellas – they get REAL drafts – multiple passes with days and even weeks of “rest” time before the next pass. So I am a Swoop-Basher in both plotter and pantser mode.

Attempting NaNoWriMo Again

Attempting NaNoWriMo again, this time a possible Vella serial. The concept is a Gothic Sci-Fi Romance (with maybe a murder mystery thrown in) – just to see if I can throw the depression of the Gothic style with the hope of the Science Fiction and Romance genres. Conceived as a serial, if it goes the way it is in my head, at some point the story will be morphed into a two to three book series. But first, seeing if Vella works as a release style for me.

Also in the mix for NaNoWriMo is getting more of the blog in order and working on two anthology pieces due by Dec 31.

I’ve never succeeded before – and the normal roadblocks are all there – too many jobs with tax season study gearing up, the package season for the post office going crazy (yesterday for Halloween, I pulled a full twelve-hour day), and family obligations for the holidays. Plus the normal juggling nine gigs, editing, and keeping mind and body healthy and alive.

Writing over 1,000 words a day should be a piece of cake, right?

Any amount of words is a good thing. I hope you will enjoy snippets as I get them done.

Cover: Gothic Sci-Fi Romance

Memes: Write Something (Four)

Time to renew the NaNoWriMo memes. These are available to all who want to use them.

(Need more writing memes in your life ?– see my previous memes under Memes: Write Something and Memes: Write Something (Two) and Memes: Write Something (Three))

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (9349516i); Letitia Wright; Black Panther – 2018
THE OLD GUARD – Charlize Theron as ÓAndy”
Photo credit: Aimee Spinks/NETFLIX ©2020

Other Cool Blogs: Liana Brooks 2/24/2016

Photo by Todd Ruth on Unsplash

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that in the middle of NaNoWritMo you have been taking care of your Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Because it is awful hard to write (a Self-Actualization product) when your Physiological and Emotional needs aren’t being met.

If you are not familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it goes as follows:

Bottom layer 1 – Physiological Needs (breathing, water, food, excretion, sleep)
Bottom layer 2 – Safety Needs (Physical safety like shelter and clothes and health; Mental safety like steady income, security of body, and security of those under your care)
Bottom layer 3 – Belonging (Friendship, family, sexual and/or emotional intimacy, sense of connection)
Top layer 4 – Esteem (Confidence, achievement, respect for self and others, enjoyment of arts)
Top layer 6 – Self-Actualization (Morality, problem-solving, lack of prejudice, creation of arts)

While for most of NaNoWriMo, writers are reminded time and again not to let their Physiological Needs slide – it’s hard to write hungry or without sleep – that is not the only layer which needs to be in place to write well.

Today, being Thanksgiving in the United States, is a day of Belonging so let’s look a little at that. I think this is where most of writer’s block comes from. Argument with significant other, parent or child being sick, depression – anything that breaks or endangers the ties of connection taking the energy away from the higher layers where creativity lives and bring it down to the more important needs to survive.

Just like a child isn’t going to learn while hungry, or cold because of no winter clothes which fit, or worried about being taken away from their parents, a writer isn’t going to do their brain-best if they cut back on their sleep, worried about their day-job, or hasn’t had a hug in a while. Humans need these things.

Now you can skip around the pyramid some – you can go hungry for a couple hours if you enter The Zone. Sometimes health is never going to be completely met because of disability. But don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write too much today because your family is 1,000 miles away (like mine is) and you are missing them. You look at all that free time and go “why can’t I write?!?”, but emotional fragility undermines your efforts. I am going to go talk to my mom on the phone for a while. That should help me.

To find out more about this topic check out Liana Brooks post: The takeaway comment which hit me the hardest “The secret to hitting your deadlines in the chaos is to recognize your needs, and meet as many of them as you can.”

WRITER EXERCISE: Take care of one of the three bottom layers today and tomorrow share below how it changed your approach to writing – and maybe not just word count, but your enjoyment of the creative process or quality of the creative process.