Monday, November 25, 2013

Scrabble: Seekerville Story Style

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? says…

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!

3. to scrawl; scribble; a scrawled or scribbled writing.

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.

You win!

* * *

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!

* * *

Claiming Mariah
EPIC eBook Awards Finalist

New Print Release Coming 
February 2014!
Available for Pre-Order

Comment on today's post for a chance to win a copy of Claiming Mariah.
Print* or Digital: Winner's choice.
*Print copy available February 2014.


Marianne Barkman said...

Now I know why I don't like writing! I suck at scrabble, too! Great analogy. A fun read for this reader. Not playing the game....none of my letters are worn off yet. Thanks for a great post. Looking forward to reader the other comments later.

Jenny Blake said...

But my tiles are still newish cos no one will come visit me to play. I do get to play words with friends.
But I so understood what you were saying. But if I can have 2 vowels I would love a u and I. I would want Q U I Z, I would take X K and C.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well bummer. I just got a new keyboard because all of mine were pretty much worn off!!

Gosh, love those pictures Pam.

I am a Scrabble-aholic.

Melissa Jagears said...

Is it weird to be a word person and find Scrabble to be totally uninteresting? I don't like Crossword puzzles either, give me logic puzzles instead and Taboo!

Anyway, my letters: a,s,e,o,n,l,m

elms (this S is handy!)

okay time procrastination done - check - time to get back to work!

Debra E. Marvin said...

my keyboard is in perfect shape, thankfully. I have to put all my brain power into editing this morning. I'll be doing that all day long. ugh. and YAY!

I'll be scrabbling all day. It's a wonder our brains and fingertips are bloodied!

Have a great week, all you scrabblers and a lovely Thanksgiving!
thanks Pam!

Annie Rains said...

Thanks for the post, Pam! My keyboard is looking pretty good, too :)

Is it Thanksgiving week already? How did that happen? And look at the date. Christmas is one month from today. Oy. Must get shopping, and plotting. I'll be starting a new project on January 1 :)

Happy Monday, Seekerville!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Worn letters.... :)

I kill computers long before I have a chance to wear down the letters! #brutal!!!!!

I'm not a game player. My daughter Beth keeps chastising me because her in-laws love to get together and play games.

I raised a bunch of competitive capitalistic Neanderthals it seems. When they play games, we end up in the E.R.....

Risk? Monopoly???? Are you kidding me? #bloodbath

Melissa Jagears, I'm with you. I leave the word-winning games to my sister at showers, etc. She can sit for hours and do word puzzles. If I sit for five minutes... unless I'm writing... the urge to make trouble for someone, somewhere, overtakes me. :)

But I do love the idea of fun, warm, family game-playing. As long as I can watch from afar. Or bake something!!!!!

Laughing in upstate.

Jackie said...

Good morning!

N is definitely worn off and my mouse pad on my laptop has a big worn circle on it, which doesn't help me in Scrabble.

What a fun post. Thanks!

Sandra Leesmith said...

PAMMERS I love scrabble. Mom and I used to play. We even sat in the snow and played the fastest game ever. LOL

Great analogy to writing. You are always so clever.

I won't get tempted into playing today though as I have to scrabble and write my post for tomorrow. Maybe later when I need a break.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great list of words MELISSA

Rose said...


Scrabble was my mom's favotite game! But I don't remember any worn tiles. That could be because she had several game boards and tiles!

Cindy W. said...

Loved the post Pam. My computer is relatively new so my keyboard is new as well. I do love to play Scrabble though. I've loved it since I was a little girl and I think it helped my spell (along with my older siblings and parents helping me with the right tiles).

Congratulations on Claiming Mariah coming out in print! I would love to be entered to win a copy.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Janet Dean said...

Pam, I love word games. Fun post! I relate to all that scratching, grappling, scribbling and digging that goes into getting our stories on the page.

I could make gobs of words with my worn off keys since the only letters that remain are Q, Z, X, most of J and the barest peek at P. I must have a heavy touch.


Pam Hillman said...

Good morning, Villians, from the cold, rainy south. Soup's on!

But first, biscuits with homemade butter, sorghum molasses and patty sausage for breakfast. Molasses on your sausage? Don't knock it 'til you've tried it! :)

Marianne, I have a Deluxe Scrabble set that's over 10 years old and has hardly ever been played. My kids were too young to enjoy it when we got the game, so I might enjoy it more now. I think my younger son would too.

Jenny spelled QUIZ. And what would you spell with X, K, & C? I probably should know, but coffee hasn't kicked in yet!!! l0l

Pam Hillman said...

Wowzers, Meiissa! Look at that list of words. Good gravy, woman! And you did this at 1:45 AM????

I BOW at your feet!

Pam Hillman said...

Scrabble away, Debra, then come out to play! Here's hoping you have a fantastically productive day.

Pam Hillman said...

Tina, as busy as you are, it's no wonder! :)

Annie, I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already. And then there's Christmas. Happy Thanksgiving week.

Pam Hillman said...

Ruthy, you should play Spoons while baking. Adds a new meaning to having your cake and eating it too. lol

Pam Hillman said...

Jackie, I suppose you could spell NO with those options, yes?

Pam Hillman said...

Sandra, you played in the SNOW? How in the did that come about?

Pam Hillman said...

Rose, I'm looking for worn letters on your keyboard, not on the scrabble tiles. :) But not to worry.

Sounds like your mother would have been a formidable Scrabble opponent!

kaybee said...

PAM, what a great analogy, proving that almost everything in the WORLD can be related to writing. And everything you said can be related to my current WIP and my struggles with it. (The WIP I'm doing for NANO, not the one I'm doing with my crit group nor the "finished" piece I am touching up after a few comments from agents. Yeah, I write a lot.)
Totally unrelated, I had good feedback this week from an agent who REJECTED me. I've never been so happy to get a rejection. I think it must be that chemical in the turkey, the dopamine?
Too many things hitting too many fans, will check in later.
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

Please enter me in the drawing for the PRINT edition. Yeah, where e-books are concerned, I'm not there yet.

Pam Hillman said...

Thank you, Cindy! We played very little board games when I was a child. Daddy liked Checkers and he and I put jigsaw puzzles together, but that was it.

We used to get a new puzzle every year before Christmas and work on it together. Now that my kids are old enough to sit and concentrate, I might try it again. (2-3 yo and 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles do not mix well. :)

Pam Hillman said...

Janet, your right up there with Tina with the worn keyboard. You really HAVE been scrabbling, haven't you?

Pam Hillman said...

Kathy, the comparison actually came together even better than I expected when I started on it. It's funny how some blog topics just fall into place while I struggle with others.

Hmmm, a lot like some of my ideas for stories.

There you go. I could even find an analogy in writing blog posts to writing novels. Ha!

Mary Connealy said...

Well this is strange.
I've got three computers in this house. Two laptops, one quite old, though it wasn't used that much, mainly when I'd travel (sez the woman who rarely travels) and the desktop.

Sum total of all worn out letters.
And N on my own newer laptop.
and a M and N on my desktop.

That seems strange.

I must have the delicate typing technicque of a monarch butterfly.

That is a lovely image that I believe I will just savor for a while. There isn't that much that is butterfly-like about me!

Mary Connealy said...

I used to play Scrabble with Tina on Facebook. We were pretty well matched (at least that's my memory, go ahead and correct me Tina! Brat!)

Then Myra started playing with us. Yeesh. Scrabble Savant Enters the Picture. Then Scrabble sued Facebook for stealing Scrabble...they called it something else I think, but it was, let's face it, SCRABBLE. amd they discontinued the game...and I could no longer play Myra and it was like a mercy killing.

I was put down like three-legged horse and the pain was at an end for us all.

Janet Dean said...

Pam, The time has come for a new keyboard. Sorry truth, it won't be long and I'll be back with blank keys.


Janet Dean said...

Mary, smiling at your butterfly image. Will try to talk my fingers into lighting, not pounding on the keys.


Jeanne T said...

I loved these comparisons, Pam. Our boys and I like to play Scrabble. My hubby...not so much. But when he plays, he usually beats the pants off all of us. He's such a strategizer.

I bought my Mac almost a year ago, so none of the letters are worn off my keyboard. But the shiniest ones are: A S R T F J E.

From that, the following words came to mind: JAR, JARS, TAR, TARE, EARS, FRAT, SEAR, FEAR, TARS, STARE, FARES, STRAFE, FEATS, ... I'm sure there are more, but my mind needs more coffee. :)

I definitely want to be in the drawing. :)

Elaine Manders said...

Hi Pam,

Interesting analogy. I've never been into word games. I like numbers like monopoly. But it's a tradition to put together a jigsaw puzzle after Christmas.

I find words get in the way when I'm writing. Yes, I know that doesn't make sense, but it does to me. That's why I have to go to the dictionary and thesaurus a hundred times a day. The only keys not worn on my old laptop are the numbers...interesting.

Yes, I'd like your book, in print if you autograph it. Beautiful cover.

Debby Giusti said...

Racing out the door and don't have time to create new words right now...but wanted to leave a comment.

I love Scrabble, although I haven't played in years. When the family gathers at Thanksgiving, I may dig out the old board game. Won't that be fun!!!

Pam, your post reminded me how much I love to write them, change them, move them around the page, pull them into a phrase, cut a few, add a couple...

Do all writers love words? I think it goes with the profession.

Hope to "play" later when I return home!!!

Pam Hillman said...

Mary, are you typing

Mary CoNNealy over and over and over???

Pam Hillman said...

Mary Connealy
Floats like a butterfly
Stings like a bee.

Jeanne T, you're going to give Melissa a run for her words if you keep this up! :)

DebH said...

Great imagery post today Miss Pam. I love scrabble, but dear hubby is sort of like NCIS' Gibbs - he prefers simple words. I may try scrabble a little with my four year old. Right now he prefers numbers over letters and adores puzzles (put together a 50 piece with minimal mommy help). I think the tiles will interest him. I'll have to be careful though, he likes to lose small things. Hmmmm, perhaps I should just stick to the puzzles for now...

No worn out keys. Two removed by little man though (the return and number 6). I suppose I could use your list to create some words.

Would love an ebook copy. My home is too cluttered with books as is *heh*.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your book cover btw. Always have. It's gorgeous.

DebH said...

okay, real quick since I have to get back to work *sigh*. from your worn keys I've the following:
can, cans, fad, fads, fain, nick, nicks, ick, sick, sack, ask, ack, sad, ads, kin, kind, dink, dinks, ink, inks,,fink, finks, fin, fins, din, dins, aid, aids, said, sand, and jack, jacks, dank, disk, cask

boy, the 'S' can sure make one look clever/smart.

Mary Connealy said...

Pam, I suppose that explains the N problems.
And the M is a little worn.

Still this desktop is quite a few years old. Now I'm thinking maybe the keyboard isn't as old. It says DELL and my desktop is HP. I maybe have replaced the keyboard at some point. Probably chock full of crumbs and I finally broke it after turning it upside down and whacking it a few too many times????

Mary Connealy said...

You know what, now that I think about it My Cowboy about two years ago...not much longer than that, finally broke down and started using the computer a little bit. minimal online surfing. (mainly Steer Planet...yes, that's a real place) and checking email.
And I had a keyboard that was really worn. And ... here's the point, several letters were worn completely away.
Including the N probably that double N in my name, right?
Heaven knows I type it often enough signing into places.

So well, My Cowboy...he's a hunt and peck typer. He has ZERO typing skills. And honestly...why would he know how to type? So if the N and a few other crucial letters are utterly gone...well, he doesn't just KNOW where they are supposed to be.

As people who type all the time (authors do that!) we just know where those letters are. But he doesn't.
So that was a crisis and for a while I was putting a little sticky label on the keys with a letter written on it. N M Whatever.

But they kept wearing away and were annoying to type on so I finally bought a new keyboard.

I think some of that is true. I maybe have actually SCROUNGED a new keyboard.

Connie Queen said...

I'm w/Ruthy--my computers don't last that long.

I grew up playing board games w/my brother and sisters. We were highly competitive. Monopoly was our favorite. There's nothing quite as stressful as having to mortgage all your property and slowly lose everything you own.

Anyone ever play a game called Stock Market? We loved that one too.

We bought the Scramble dictionary. That help settle a lot of fights.

Toss my name in the hat please.

Jan Drexler said...

My computer is just over two years old, and is missing these letters:
I, E, S, D, H, L, C, N

I found twenty words in about five minutes. Fun game!

Loved your post, Pam! I'm scrabbling to make sense of a new story right now. I'm in the middle of the why's. Why did he do that? Why didn't she like it? Etc., etc., etc.


Myra Johnson said...

Great job at distracting all of us from writing, Pam!!!

Hey, Mary & Tina, if you think I'm a Scrabble savant, you haven't played with my daughter! She wipes me out every time! She's a pro at playing a tight board and maximizing points.

Okay, my keyboard . . . mostly gone are:

S, D, C, H, L, N, and also A, E, and O.


Enough already!!!! Must get back to work!

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, and the iPhone game I just CANNOT win against anyone except hubby is Scramble with Friends!

Courtney Phillips said...

I had to replace my laptop keyboard (Correction: My bf did the actual "replacing.") a year or two ago. I can't remember which one, but one of the letter keys stopped working completely. It wasn't even worn--it just flat-out refused to work.
Never have played Scrabble. My family was more into Skip-Bo.

Natalie Monk said...


I love this comparison!! Great post, Pam!

Now, let's see. E and A are the most worn vowels. T,R,S,D,F,J,K

Uh, oh. Does the "no plurals" rule apply? ;) I guess it could be present tense. =)

This really makes me want to play scrabble again!

Missy Tippens said...

So true, Pam! We do really scrabble around while writing!

What's funny is that I'm terrible at the game of Scrabble and other word games. :)

As for my keyboard, the keys on my Macbook Pro don't wear off like my old computer. Your new computer won't wear, Pam! :)

Ruthy, we're more into Risk and Monopoly, too. Although I've always won at Clue, so that's my fav. :)

But when the family wants to play Boggle or Scrabble, I refuse. Can't take the losing over and over and over!

Jenny Blake said...

Pam I could get quick,
not sure what else head is aching and after joining a Occipital Neuralgia support group I realise this is not an easy fix.

I just like the q!

Pam Hillman said...

Elaine, as Debby said, maybe we love words so much that when we're writing, we have to stop and search for that PERFECT word to fit.

Non-word-ites might just go with whatever comes to mind first.

Pam Hillman said...

DebH, Scrabble with a 4 yo could be quite fun! He'll sure wow his teachers! :)

Pam Hillman said...

I understand the purpose of the QWERTY keyboard for typing ease, but honestly, when a non-typist English speaking/reading adult looks at one, can you imagine their shock???

I think I was one of those people back in about 9th grade.

A is over here, and B over there.


What's up with THAT????

Pam Hillman said...

Connie, I loved playing Monopoly with my cousins. If I remember correctly, the last time we played, I ended up with all the cash, but wanted to keep playing, so I just split the cash up among the players (a gift!) just to keep the game going.

I don't remember ever playing after that.

My Cowboy is not a gameboard kinda of guy.

Pam Hillman said...

Wow, Myra and Jan are really good at finding lots of words! I'm impressed.

Why?...isn't that what a 4 yo repeats every 5 seconds? We are reverting to our childhoods!

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, Courtney, my mother was telling me about Skip-Bo last night. Her quilting friends play it when they go on trips. She's never been a game person either, but she said she definitely enjoys that one.

Pam Hillman said...

Natalie. Wow! So many words with so few letters.

What's also interesting is that I would have thought that most of us would have the SAME worn letters....

You know, the Home Row:

A, S, D, F, J, K, L.

But we don't.

Why is that, I wonder?

Pam Hillman said...

Jenny, QUICK is a great word and you could rack up some points if you were playing Scrabble.

Praying for you to feel better soon, lady!

Chill N said...

I have a relatively new MacBook Pro, so no worn keys. And after your comment, MISSY, I actually looked at those keys closely. They really won't wear, will they? Wow.

PAM, I hasten in the opposite direction when anyone wants to play Scrabble (obviously I'm in the Seeker minority), but your post was lots of fun -- and what interesting correlations.

Congrats on the upcoming print version! That cover is still as fresh and appealing as the first time I saw it.

Nancy C

Jenny Blake said...

Thanks Pam I have to say at times I feel quite down. I joined a couple of online support groups to ask questions and learn more but also learning this is not something that will have a quick fix. But I am thankful it hit now and not years ago.

I do like playing games and wish I had people who liked to play and that I could play with more often. At present it would be a good diversion.

I read a couple of pages on the kindle on a larger font last night which is encouraging for me. I can handle kindle on larger font but not books at this point. it may take awhile to read a book but its a start.

CatMom said...

Great post, Pam! Oh, I love Scrabble (but really I love any game that involves making words, LOL).

Since my keyboard is relatively new, the only letter worn so far is N, so if I choose I and O as my vowels, I can make: ON, NO, IN, and ION. Haha, not very many--but I guess I should be glad the other letters aren't worn off yet!

Thanks again for a fun post, and please enjoy the warm Peach cobbler I just took out of the oven. You can play Scrabble with one hand, and eat cobbler with the other, LOL.
Hugs, Patti Jo :)

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, Patti Jo, I love warm peach cobbler with lots of thick, crunchy crust, topped with French vanilla ice cream! Yum!!!!

We're getting one of those long, slow drizzly rains that's supposed to last all night long.

I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night.... :)

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Hey Pam,
How fun!

Must say, haven't tried writing on TP yet, but have written on just about everything else. :)

No vowels worn, but have S, D, V, N, M. Haven't played scrabble in years. Probably should brush up on the skill since the holidays are coming up though!

Thanks for having us think of it!

Bookishqueen said...

lol, I have two. N and S. I pick I and O.


I can not think of any more.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Mom used to type my manuscripts onto the computer for me as I wrote by hand. We were tired of being in the house (she lived at Lake Tahoe at the time) so we decided to go for a picnic. It was a sunny day, but lots of snow on the ground. We scooped off a picnic table and ate lunch and decided to play a scrabble game. Well the snow covered bench got really cold and so did we so we played three letter words and finished in a hurry. LOL Fun memory.

Okay some words.

letters E and A worn letters s j f m t

test Okay I used the t twice lol

time to quit

Fun post. Happy Thanksgiving PAM

Pam Hillman said...

BookishQueen, that's really good with just 3 letters!

Sandra, so glad you shared that Scrabble in the Snow story. That was probably the fastest Scrabble game ever. lol

Sharon Timmer said...

I love the game scrabble but unfortunately the man I married is the worst speller in the world - even spell check doesn't know what word he wants half the time - LOL

I would love to win a paper copy of Claiming Mariah

Julie Lessman said...

PAMMY!!! I am SO sorry I'm late, but I just wrote "THE END," as a matter of fact, just last night on my third and final book in the Heart of San Francisco series, so now I am playing catchup.

Good night, I absolutely LOVED Scrabble my whole life ... uh, until my kids got in college and started beating me. Haven't played since, so how big of a sore loser does that make me????

VERY clever post and VERY true, my friend, because writing a novel can SO be like scrabbling to come up with something that makes sense. I know I scrabbled more on this final book than I ever have before, but those final tiles on the board -- THE END -- sure feel better than ever before as well. :)

WOW ... SOOOO excited for the print release of Claiming Mariah!! We've all waited a long time for that paperback -- too long in my humble opinion, but your incredible ebook success should be a real boon for the paperback, so I can't wait to see it fly off the shelves!!


Pam Hillman said...

Sharon, I'm right there with you. Sitting still playing a board game is so far out of my Cowboy's realm of thought that we might as well not even have any games in the house! lol

Pam Hillman said...

Julie, Snoopy dancing in MS that you finished your book and just in time for Thanksgiving!

Whoo-hoo!!!! :)