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Clearing My Head

Last night I tried to work on "Born Loser," a novel about a group of tabletop gamers who join forces to rob a bank, then proceed to stab each other in the back the way that gamers are trained to do.  I'm pretty close to wrapping up my first draft, but I hit a brick wall recently and I haven't been able to get the rest of the story out on paper.

This is a classic case of writer's block, which, as I've described before, is frustrating because it specifically is not a matter of being uninspired.  I know exactly what is supposed to happen in the moments that are still unwritten.  Right now these passages exist as little notes to my self, like, "James goes to the park and finds Clara" or "write more about how gross the basement is."  The story is done, the character arcs are in place, I've figured out the tone... all the actual work is done.  All I need to do now is come up with the right words to tie them together, and that's usually the easy part.

Except that it's not happening.  For whatever reason, I just can't stay focused on the book long enough to actually write the rest of it.

Whenever this happens, it's usually a good idea for me to work on some other project for awhile in order to clear my head.  I end up getting passionate about my work again and by the time I exhaust myself with the side project, I'm feeling ready to come back and tackle whatever I was first trying to figure out.

In the case of "Born Loser," my side project is actually just an inside joke.

Since the book is about board game nerds, I wanted to make as many references as possible to board games.  (Actually, I'll probably need to go back and remove some so that it doesn't come across as overly obvious or irritating.)  For the most part, these are references to real games, but there are a few scenes here and there where I just couldn't think of an actual game that's appropriate for the story.

One situation in particular stands out.  There's a moment where I need a casual, relationship-themed game that has a dark and violent subtext in order for the tone of the scene to really work properly.  Since I don't know of any games that make sense, I invented something ambiguous to fill in the details.

I wrote that scene about a month ago.  Since then I've been trying to figure out how to turn those nebulous half-rules into a real game.  So last night I took a break from my novel about board game geeks to... create a board game.  I'll have to make sure to put some kind of synergy plan into place if I ever try to get both published.

I've never actually tried to create a game beyond just basic brainstorming.  Whatever happens next, it should be a fun experiment.