Monday, August 17, 2009

Don't Play Games With Me. I'm Just Not Ready.

I know I'm not the only kid who played computer games as a kid, but I can say with some certainty that not many kids played chess as a computer game when they were younger. My dad, who wanted my siblings and I to learn to play the game, one day brought home a computer game designed to teach the principles of chess. He'd already taught us some things, but he really wanted to get the game going in our heads.

I played my way through all the levels of the game, cementing permanently in my mind at least a rudimentary knowledge of the game. After that, I dipped my toe in the pool of chess. I played my siblings, my dad, my uncle, and my grandfather. My grandfather was good. He could play my siblings, me, and my little cousin all at the same time, and win all four games, too.

Me, I'm not good. I never seemed to have the head for it, could never see my opponent's moves coming, nor plan very far ahead. That's important in chess.

Here's the thing. I'm trying to use chess in the Thief Book. In my mind, it's supposed to be a metaphor for the game being played between my MC and the chief of police (and, in a wider sense, the game the thief is playing with the police). Also, it's something for the characters to do while they talk to each other. What this all means for me is that I need to map out the chess game in my head.

It's hard. At the moment, I'm focusing on the dialogue that occurs during the game, so I have a place-holder game going on. A sort of a rough draft game in the rough draft text. However, I cannot avoid it forever. I will, at some point, have to figure out what kind of game those two are playing, on the chess board at least. To do that, though, I'm going to have to return to the world of chess and learn to play the game all over again.

Writing requires a lot of things from us. Patience. Devotion. Love. Now, from me, it is requiring something more. Chess.

Do you use games in your writing? How do you like to choreograph scenes like this one? Do you choreograph them? Do you use skills of yours in your text? Have you ever learned a skill to use it in a book? What's the most unusual research you've ever done for a story?


  1. I know nothing about Chess, so I can't help you there, but the most unusual research I did involved the Irish Mafia and police dogs. It actually turned out to be quite interesting. Good luck with your chess research!

  2. The Irish Mafia? Really? That sounds fascinating. I seems to me the Irish tend to get overlooked in the Mafia world because of the Italians and the Russians. That's just unfair.