Okay, the rules and explanations for the game Scrabble on the internet are mind-boggling, so I’m not even going to attempt to explain ‘em. Let’s just get that out of the way right off the bat.
What does Scrabble mean anyway? And how in the world does it relate to writing?
1. to scratch or scrape, as with the claws or hands.
Oh. My. Stars!!!! Isn’t that the truth? Sometimes we scratch out our stories as if we’re clawing through wet cement. We dig our way through the plot, sifting out impurities and searching for nuggets to make the story shine.
When you draw your tiles in Scrabble, at first your heart sinks. You see NOTHING in your tiles to help you win the game. Shoot, you don’t even see a word, for heaven’s sake. But don’t give up...
2. to grapple or struggle with or as if with the claws or hands.
Do you ever grapple with your characters? Struggle to get them to do what you want? Sometimes it’s hard to pin them down, but the more time you spend with them, the more you’ll learn. Once you know what makes them tick, (Remember: be true to thine own characters) and how to apply that inside knowledge to their story, they’ll follow along like sheep when you write about their struggles and trials.
You take a deep breath and study your tiles, and eventually a word emerges. You get excited! You might have a chance after all!
Do you sometimes scrawl your words frantically on anything that comes to hand? Scribble notes on toilet paper, napkins, grocery bags, or your child’s homework? Isn’t it exciting when the words are coming so fast and furious that you must get them down on paper as soon as possible…even it tp is the only thing at hand? Treasure those moments of inspiration, embrace the chance to scribble, but be sure to transfer your scribbles to something a little more substantial as soon as possible!
You eye the Scrabble board. You can barely sit still waiting for your turn to play your tiles. You’ve been scribbling frantically in your mind making words out of the letters you’ve been given. Go you!
4. to scratch or dig frantically with the hands; claw (often followed by at): scrabbling at a locked door to escape the flames.
Then there are the times you dig all around a scene looking for that nugget that will take your story up a notch. You know there’s something hidden there waiting to get out. And when you find it, you’re off and running with a new and better scene or story.
You gleefully place five tiles on the board, then draw five more out of the bag. You’ve got this! But then you realize you have to make up more words from your new tiles AND study the board at the same time. Uh oh! Your heart sinks again!
5. to jostle or struggle for possession of something; grab or collect something in a disorderly way; a disorderly struggle for possession of something; scramble.
Sometimes you have to study your story just like you’d study a Scrabble board, looking for just the right place to hang a word or scene. And, of course, just like with Scrabble, you can’t just throw a scene in there. It has to connect with the rest of the story. In the process of rewriting, or if you’ve written scenes out of order, you might have to do a bit of jostling to make things fit.
And sometimes it’s a scramble to get the scenes organized at the last minute before a contest deadline, or in the wee hours before your manuscript is due at your publishing house. But when you find just that right spot, it fits just like a puzzle piece…or the winning tile on a Scrabble board.
The words on the board grows, and the game becomes more complicated, but keep your head in the game, planning, thinking, plotting where to put that next tile, that next word, always struggling for possession for a spot on the board.
Then when the game is over, and you type, THE END, you have a beautiful interconnected list of words that make up sentences, paragraphs, scenes, story. Oh, and contrary to playing Scrabble with 2-3 other people, this Scrabble is yours and yours alone.
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Now for the fun and games. Jot down all the worn letters on your keyboard. The letters on mine are S, D, F, J, K, C, N. If you have 2 vowels worn off, use those. If not, you get to pick 2 free vowels. I pick A and I. Now see how many words you can make with your letters in your comments. Go!
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