Wednesday, July 10

Just Playing Around

I came to Sudoku late in life...okay, just late in the Sudoku craze. But I love the game. I've finished something like 20 books and DH even bought the computer game, filled with limitless puzzles..and one for my DS and another for my iPad.

My name is Kristi, and I'm a Sudoku addict.

The funny thing is, I've learned things from the game, and reinforced other firmly held beliefs. Like not giving up, that thinking outside the box is a good thing and that the best feeling is fitting that last piece of the puzzle in it's slot. It's also taught me a few things about writing. Things like...

1) Every puzzle (or story) has a key. Sometimes, you just have to sweat blood to find it and figure out how to use it.

2) Even Sudoku has a Sagging Middle. Figuring out the first few numbers is simple, but toward the middle of the puzzle things can get dicey. Maybe you've misplaced one number -- but that one number messes up four more. That is the sagging middle. In romance writing terms, the sagging middle (for me) has too little because too much is already out there. I've put too much information, too much heat, too much backstory in the wrong place, the best way to fix this is to see #3.

3) Erasers (and the Delete key) are our friends. Once you've misplaced one number and that misplaced number has morphed into eight, the best thing to do is bring out the eraser. When you hit the middle and things just aren't moving, the best option is to go back to the beginning. Whether you choose to delete it all or edit the existing copy the D-K will be used. Probably often. Don't be afraid of it.

4) No good ending comes without sweat and tears. I don't know about other Sudoku fans, but I can't leave a puzzle - no matter how badly I've screwed it up - unfinished. Sometimes that means I spend another hour trying to figure it out. To me, that is time well spent. This is the same in writing. If a book isn't ripping you apart in one way or another, you may not have a book. Fiction is about triumph over adversity. Not rosy glows and easy fixes. I'll admit I have a few unfinished works of art (hardy-har-har) sitting under the bed. But the stories I love, the characters that speak to me all have their stories finished. Or at least in some form of completion. I just can't leave them alone. And that is okay.

5) The devil is in the details. The numbers in a Sudoku puzzle only go in specific places. One number will only go in one place for every row, column and nine-square box, but you usually don't find out you've misplaced a number until it's too late. This is also true for novels. Whether you write suspense, action-adventure, romantic comedies or paranormals if you don't have the details right the ending won't sit well. You may not even get to the end...

6) Finishing a puzzle (or the last edit on your final draft) is so worth it. There is nothing like the glow of filling in that last box with the #9 (or writing The End) and knowing that you couldn't have done it better. That feeling may only last a few minutes, but it's infinitely worth it.

Any other gamers out there? What have you learned or had reinforced by your favorite games?


  1. Sudoku is a great example. I've played a few times and my biggest problem is putting the same number in a column. That's a no no in sudoku. Same with writing. I tend to use the same word over and over. A crit partner once pointed out I used the word knows five times in a three line paragraph.

  2. I do that same thing - and I *never* catch those repeaters the first time through...sigh.

    Thanks for visiting, Shawn!

  3. This is a cool post. I can't do Sudoku, though I can't explain why--my mind just won't deal with numbers, I guess. Crosswords (hard ones) are my game of choice.

  4. Kristi, I'm a Sudoku addict as well. I just recently managed to solve the difficult ones, and it takes forever - much like writing a book :) I'd never really compared the two, though. Good job!

  5. Interesting comparison Kristi :) I was late to the craze as well, but I do enjoy sitting down with a puzzle from time to time (although words with friends is still my fondest addiction) lol

  6. I played sudoku early on but haven't in a long time. But I will admit to an addiction-compulsion with Candy Crush on my phone. And what I've learned is that while you struggle for days(months??) with one level until you're ready to hurl your device out the window, when you finally succeed, it doesn't feel so hard anymore.

    Kind of like how I'm struggling with writing Bix's new ending. I know it will eventually click and all the candy--words--will fall into line and I'll think, 'That's it!"

  7. I hate games. All games. I tried this one, just couldn't get into it. I can't seem to concentrate on them. Once in a great while I play Scrabble, but not often.

  8. I play Spider Solitaire on my computer when I get stuck in my writing. I have the version where you can go back and undo when you get to the point where there are no more options. I sometimes have to go back to the beginning to get it to work. But I keep working at it. Like with my writing. Sometimes I have to go all the way back to the beginning, but most of the time I can get back on track.

  9. I love Sudoku too. I haven't played in a while. I should download an online game and do a few puzzles to exercise my brain. LOL

  10. I'm not much of a gamer, especially numbers, but you're right about the writing. It won't fit together if any one component is out of place. Nice analogy, Kristi.