Well, I’m Off To Bed

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Crossword puzzle with blacked out spaces in the shape of a smiley face

Happy Puzzle by madmolecule http://www.flickr.com/photos/zeke_/ / CC BY 2.0

Tetris will be the death of me…or Solitaire…or Sudoku…I am addicted to puzzle games and play them rather than write.

My sister tried to convince me to write about the similarities between writing and Tetris: how information and scenes fit together like a puzzle and what happens when they don’t.  A worthy blog post if I ever heard of one, unfortunately, this is not that.

This is about why I play.

I’m avoiding the complex human puzzle in front of me by completing one that has pretty colored blocks. With Tetris, there’s happy music that gets stuck in my head and there’s triumphant music when I succeed. With Julia, the human puzzle, there is none of that. Sure, I can pat myself on the back and think “what an excellent scene, what a well crafted character,” but when all is said and done, if I’ve done it right, there will be no happy music. Instead there will be a miserable character who I will then push to be even more miserable throughout the course of the book.

OK, no, that’s just a fancy-sounding excuse. Did I have you convinced? I almost convinced myself, but I know I’m not really that noble. I just play to avoid because I’m on a scene that’s difficult for me to write.

After figuring out why I was running into a brick wall, I thought fixing my problems would be easy. Not so much. Knowing may be half the battle, but that still leaves half to be fought.

Julia is about to learn part of a family secret. I’m having difficulty capturing her range of emotions. I’m refraining from asking all my friends what they would do because 1) that would give away part of the reveal, and 2) what you say you’d do and what you’d actually can totally different.

How many emotions should Julia run through at once? How quickly? Then what does she do? In one version, she decides to go to bed. That seems like a cop out to me.”Well, I can’t figure out what she would really do, so let’s just end scene and pick up on the other side of the black whole when she wakes up.”

The more I think about the scene, the more I end up cutting because it’s just silly fluff that I added because I couldn’t answer my fundamental questions. And that leaves me with a scene that needs to be written and a very scary blank page.

On another note: Holy crap! They have Tetris Birthstone Birthshape Jewlery! They have a “calculator” to let you know which shape is yours…all based on highly scientific principles, I’m sure. Mine, is the awesome purple T shape. It is “artistic, creative and spiritual – purple is your color. It expresses your royal, complex, spiritually rich and noble character. Purple is the symbol of wisdom and enlightenment.” I guess I am that noble!

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4 thoughts on “Well, I’m Off To Bed

  1. Jackie

    First of all, this post really makes me want to play Tetris!

    Moving on to the writing-related aspects of your post, my advice is to consider that people rarely act the way you’d think they’d act. The “normal” flow of grief-triggered emotions doesn’t necessarily play out the way we’d think — they might feel shock one minute, anger the next, and denial the next. It’s possible to feel all the stages of grief in one day — or even one minute!

    When people receive truly bad news, they’re usually in shock at first. If you write a scene where Julia learns about the secret and suddenly screams or bursts into sobs, it might not ring true. I think it’d be more realistic to have her accept the news stone-faced and dissolve into tears much later when it finally hits her.

    Good luck! Let us know what you decide.

  2. Cam

    Thanks, Jackie.

    I think you’re right about needing to space out her reactions. I’m trying to shove too many emotions into too short a time.

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