Five Angry Birds Takeaways For Writers

21 Apr

If you haven’t had any exposure to Angry Birds this synopsis from Charles Mauro is the best I’ve seen:

The game involves employing a sling shot to propel small cannonball-shaped birds with really bad attitudes at rather fragile glass and timber houses populated by basically catatonic green pigs. The basic thrust of the game is to bring about the demise of the pigs as quickly and expertly as possible by collapsing the pigs’ houses on top of their (sometimes) helmeted heads.

And how can slinging birds at pigs teach us anything? Well that’s the magic of plots and stories. Just do a Google search on what Angry Birds has taught people and you will see everyone from parents to private investigators listing things they learned from Angry Birds. Perhaps we’re all just trying to justify time wasted, or maybe we’re onto something. I decided to come up with my own writer’s list of takeaways from Angry Birds.

1. Keep whacking at it.

No matter how daunting a particular scene may appear, how impossible to find a solution, how far away the end of the book may feel, keep hacking away. Eventually you’ll hit a sweet spot and sail through to the next level.

2. Suffering makes you better.

I throw myself into a scene over and over again. When I reread a day’s work it’s never what I imagined it would be. Sometimes it’s missed the mark a little, or sometimes it’s a huge splat of gibberish. But with every fail there is something learned and usually a hit or two worth keeping to reuse in the next go. That’s how you build toward success, one shot at a time, growing as you learn your characters and their story.

3. Dig deeper to find the golden eggs and superpowers.

The golden eggs are hidden in the places you’d like to skip. I often wish I could skip over the sagging middle and get straight to the drama at the end of the story. But middles are the place where you hide the good stuff — the tools, the kinky love scenes, the clues, the allies, the secret somethings that teach your heroine the lessons that will solve her unsolvable problems and pull out a happy ending. Middles are hard but the work is worth it in the end. The coolest part of writing a middle is the subconscious groundwork you lay, the secrets encoded that will pop out and surprise you when you’re sure you’ve written yourself into a corner there’s no getting out of. This is a writer’s super power. There is always more hidden inside you than you know.

4. Follow the breadcrumb trails

Not sure how to tackle a problem or how to overcome your weaknesses. Follow the breadcrumb trails left by other writers. Chances are you don’t want to end up in the same place they did, but by studying their methods you can get ideas about strategy and eventually find your way out of the rut you’re in.

5. First you get through it and then you make it better.

You don’t need a perfect three-gold-star rating on each scene before you move to the next. Once you make it through all the levels you can go back and improve your weakest scenes. Trouble spots are resolved faster once you’ve acquired the skills you pick up on your trek through the story. You’ve learned a lot on your journey and now you can apply what you know to those places where you barely scraped by.

Bonus Takeaway

The main takeaway from time spent with Angry Birds is that you shouldn’t feel guilty about the time you spend hurling little birds at green pigs. We love a good game for the same reasons we love a good novel — diversions that leave you feeling smarter and stronger inspire you to be more. Good stories are never a waste of time :).

Can you think of something you’ve played or read lately that inspired you to be more? Share it in the comments.

3 Responses to “Five Angry Birds Takeaways For Writers”

  1. themightycharlottestein April 21, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    LOL what a cute post! Loved it. And yes, I often play Mario and wish I could get across his love for Yoshi in every page of every one of my books. Or is it just my love for Yoshi? I always cry when I have to leave him behind in that horrid level. Or when he accidentally flings off Mario’s butt and into a lava pit.

    I swear, my heroes: I will never let you fling off my heroine’s butt and into a lava pit.

    • Nara April 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

      Lol flinging butts trumps flinging birds. Who says video games aren’t romantic.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Five Angry Birds Takeaways For Writers (via ) « Nara Malone - April 21, 2011

    […] If you haven't had any exposure to Angry Birds this synopsis from Charles Mauro is the best I've seen: The game involves employing a sling shot to propel small cannonball-shaped birds with really bad attitudes at rather fragile glass and timber houses populated by basically catatonic green pigs. The basic thrust of the game is to bring about the demise of the pigs as quickly and expertly as possible by collapsing the pigs’ houses on top of their … Read More […]

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