Thursday, April 21, 2011

Writing and chess

Eastern Europeans pride themselves on being good chess players. I'm Eastern European, so naturally I suck. But I used to really suck. The laptop the wife bought me has a chess game on it, ten levels of difficulty. I haven't played since I was a kid, and even then I didn't play much, though I enjoyed it when I did.

The machine starts you out on level 2 which is one notch above persistent vegetative thinkers. I started out losing for the first couple days, then I had to go up a level to get a good game, and recently I went up to level 4. Still not Boris Spasky by any stretch, but after getting really ticked off because I couldn't beat the machine at level 4, I checked out a couple games, recounts of historic matches, and I could tell right away why I was getting into trouble. Now I'm beating level 4 and thinking of moving up.

It's startling how similar the experience is to writing, although, the act of writing is far more complex and takes much longer to move up the rungs. Practice anything and you'll get better. And when you reach a level and can't seem to figure out how to take the next step up, it doesn't hurt to check out how the masters did it.

And I bet you thought this would be another guy telling you about moving the protag and counter moving with the antag, etc...

p.s. In case anyone's wondering, the picture is a closeup of a rook. Duh.


  1. Good point, Fred.I can see the similarities. My problem - I can't follow the rules of chess. I get fed up before I've moved more than a couple of pieces and I am a really bad loser. I don't want to practice it because I know I won't get any better - bored much too quickly. Sad to say - I have a feeling that might apply to my writing too. I've gradually got a little better I suppose but I'm never going to be great.

  2. I haven’t read everything Barbara's written, but everything she's published and I see a definite progression. Her plots have gone from interesting and fun, a master of one dimension, to multiple boards with characters interacting as three-dimensional as they can get.
    I’m very interested in seeing what you promised to reveal by this fall, Fred. Hell, I never knew what a rook was until you slapped up that pic of a crow. My vocabulary sucks. Good thing google rocks and I've peers to learn from.