We are writers.
Right? But what kind? We aren’t talking genre. Yet. Just the basics. Think Meyers Briggs and the four dichotomies. For writers, the preference pairings go something like this:
Plotter – Pantser – Basher – Swooper
Kurt Vonnegut gave us the top row. Bashers are the nine to five, master masons of writing. One brick of a word at a time. Swoopers ‘stream of consciousness’ onto the page, damn the grammar and spelling, full speed ahead. But only when the mood strikes.
Plotters are our architects, our engineers. Get the specs. Plan the plot. Write! Pantsers–as in flying by the seat of their pants–well, they tend to be a little more… spontaneous. They don’t usually follow a plot. They take dictation from their characters.
Which is best? If you survey published authors, the answer is pretty clear.
They all work.
This is a good thing. It means we have one less thing to agonize, feel inferior over. And one more reason to join a clique and point out, in writerly love of course, that “You’re doing it wrong!”
I think the best advice I’ve been given so far is this: We read what we like to read for a reason, be it romance, mystery, horror, historical this autobiographical that. We discover what we like by trying a little bit of everything. So for me, as a writer, the lesson is pretty clear.
I came into the writing world as a card carrying Pantser Swooper. I think I owe it to myself, to my tradecraft, to try all the different approaches. In the end, I’ll go back to what works best for me.
Write what I like to read. Write how I like to write. Have fun doing it.
Know what? I already am.