Wednesday, February 18, 2015

When is a game like editing a manuscript?

Maybe I’m stretching this a bit, but last night I got to thinking… yeah, I know, but stay with me anyway.

When I’ve spent a long day writing, I like to unwind by playing a game on my Kindle. Sometimes it’s a word game, other times it’s a mind-challenging game, other’s, and more often, it’s a puzzle game. Like Mahjongg. That’s what I was playing last night. This particular version is timed. Not a race against time, but a race against yourself…you have to beat your previous game time.

As I played, trying to match the tiles, eyes busy, I realized this was a lot like self-editing a manuscript. There are times you just don’t see where errors are hidden.


And, with Mahjongg, you have to decide which is the best match to choose. In the above illustration, you’ll see there are several ways to go. For example, to unblock the lower tiles, I need to start at the top of the stack. So, that means I need to get rid of that top tile of three dots. Can you see several ways I can go? Likewise with the the tiles with five dots.

Now, lest you think I’ve lost my mind, let me explain my reasoning. When building story, we spend time finding the right words, phrases, or scenes, making sure we’re moving the story forward. Then, when done with the rough draft, we have to read it through, making corrections, rearranging things.

In Mahjongg, when there are no matches left, it reshuffles the tiles, and you keep matching them until you've cleared the board. In editing the manuscript, it's much the same. Sometimes we have to move—or remove—words, sentences, or entire paragraphs, and keep going until the final draft is ready to be sent to the publisher's editors.

Last night, my eyes were so tired I couldn’t see a match, so I clicked on ‘hint’s’ and it showed a very obvious match that jumped right out at me. And I go, ‘How did it miss that?”

Like I said above, maybe I’m stretching the analogy a bit, but that’s the way my mind was working last night.

What do you think?


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