Saturday, January 17, 2009


Thank goodness it’s the weekend! LW and I played dominos last night with my folks. The thing about Mexican Train is that at the start of the game you gather up all your dominos, put them in sequence and wait for your turn to come so that you can neatly lay them out one after the other in perfect sequence. The accountant in me loves this orderly little pattern.

Of course, it never quite works out that way. The surprises make the game, naturally. It seems so simple. Someone plays a 6-4. You think that when it’s your turn, you’ll play your 4-2 or 4-5. But, what happens? The antagonistic neighbor to your right plays first and disrupts your sequencing. Misfortune takes you and you end up having to draw (and draw and draw …).

The unexpected twist in a story can be as agonizing to a reader. The sudden defeat just when a victory seemed near for the hero, the heroine sent on a new and even more arduous journey, a sidekick disappearing – all these surprise setbacks in a book ‘upset’ the reader. This is good, however, as it ups the ante. Their commitment increases, and subconsciously, the reader places a greater interest in a book’s outcome. That hero or heroine or sidekick has to make it and triumph over the villain. They know that perfect ending will come, and they are waiting for it.
Now, I never got to play that 11 domino that I wanted to, despite thinking for certain I’d get to go out. I was instead left hanging. Oh, the agony of defeat! Authors, make sure you give your reader the finale they want. And, if your spouse has an 11, let him play it.
Congratulations, LW, on winning last night's domino game.

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