Games Writers Play


Remember Take Your Kid to Work Day?  My Dad was an aerospace engineer, so Take Your Kid to Work Day was really cool.  I got to see a partially built space shuttle wing, and a grabber arm thingy that was also set to go up in the shuttle for grabbing satellites and stuff.  Pretty awesome.  But for most of the time when I was growing up my father couldn’t talk about work, and our phone was probably bugged just to keep him honest while he was busy with  Cold War stuff.

Now I’m a Dad, and I work at home.  I do most of my writing before my son even wakes up in the morning, but this past Monday we played a little game that you could think of as the fiction writer’s version of Take Your Kid to Work Day:  Help Daddy Hide the Murder Weapon.

Now don’t go calling DSS, okay?  Of course I didn’t use those words with my three year old.  I told him it was the Imagination Game, and his job was to help me think of 100 ways that a guy named Desmond could hide something so that a bad guy wouldn’t be able to find it.  Kind of like hide and seek meets storytime.  I’m looking for fresh perspective here because I’m a little stuck. Sure Desmond could throw the thing into the river, but how many times have we seen that?  When you need devious behavior with a splash of originality, it helps to ask WWATD (what would a toddler do)?

Me and the boy only made it to #34 on our list before snack time, but he came up with some interesting ideas while I banged them in on the keyboard.  Here are a few that have potential:

6. Send it to the smelter’s yard (If this doesn’t mean anything to you, you clearly don’t watch enough Thomas and Friends).
8. Sell it on a web site.
12. Give it to the police to keep it safe.
11. Put it in cement (also a Bob the Builder fan)
15. Send it to faraway coconut island (have I been muttering about Pina Coladas again?)
20. Put it in a train furnace.
21. Hide it in a cave.
22. Give it to a crocodile.
23. Hide it in a cabin.
29. Hide it in a mirror
31. Give it to a tiger

This is based on a writer’s block breaking exercise called 100 Bad Ideas.  When you’re stuck, you try to write down 100 crazy bad ideas for what could happen next.  They say that by the time you get to 20, you usually want to drop the list and get back to work because a few of them are actually pretty good.  And I think one of these will work for me if I find a fitting way to interpret it in the context of my story.

I think I like #29.

Anyway, if you’re reading this and you’re a Dad, I hope you have a nice Father’s Day this weekend.  And the next time you’re stuck on how to solve a problem at work, why not ask your kid for help?



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