Friday, September 17, 2010

Writing Is Like Chess


4:55 PM | , ,

Stolen from the Cascade Literary Agency Blog

Occasionally while doing the total mundane (such as brushing my teeth) a few gems of wisdom pop into my head. Well, maybe not wisdom. But I like to think they are. Tonight while working through the next scene in my current work in progress, it occured to me to pull off what I'm striving for, I have to move each player very carefully.

Like chess. And thus the thought took root.

For anyone who writes with secondary characters, or includes extensive sub-plots, chess is a very appropriate term. Each person and element has to play off the other. The "Checkmate" is the resolution to the story. Getting there requires strategy, not just haphazard relocation of pawns and bishops (and if you're writing about Templars, the occasional Knight.)

Characters and elements can't just appear. Readers get highly annoyed by this. They have to be layered in, embedded in a plausible fashion, and dropping these little tidbits isn't nearly as easy as it may sound. Those who've faced the delimma of how to expose just the right amount of detail without giving away the whole package, should be jumping up and down in agreement. I think for some writers this comes more naturally. Others practice it (Romantic Suspense authors) so regularly it becomes habit. But those of us who are focused on different aspects of different genres have a bit of a difficult time with the chessboard.

Who moves to black? Who kills the pawn. When? With what piece? And how does that affect the pawn behind him?

I admire pantsers for this reason. I would seriously go into fits if my characters changed an aspect of my plot. I have to plot and in detail. But to sit down at a keyboard and possess the ability to navigate unexpected twists and turns? Simply amazing. Kudos to those of you who do.

Others, like myself, dictate out our plots over several pages, and then still stare at the screen, or pace, or chew on our nails as we realize "Oh. THIS must be in here. Now how to do it."

My current WIP is pushing that aspect of my brain a great deal and I am finding the challenge immensely enjoyable. But I'm curious -- how do you do it? Are you a strategic chess player, or are you the sort that takes the move, and then re-evalutes how to make the next one?

While you're considering that, I'd like to share with you the teaser for my Templar series.

For the higher quality version, go here: My Paranormal Website Page

For the faster-loading, but lower graphics quality YouTube version, go Here

Be sure to come back and share your thoughts on both.

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com


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