A Clash of Characters

Chess is a story as well as a game. In the “Writers & Chess Series”, you’ll see parallels between chess and story characters, plot, and strategy.

For now I’ll show that story characters follow some of the same principles as chess pieces.

Moves determined by traits

Only certain actions are possible for any particular character or chess piece. Choices that the character (or chess piece) can make are partially defined by role, type, and current environment. Characters may take rash actions when pushed into a tight spot but they don’t act outside their current abilities.

They react

Think about it. One character makes a move and and another can move towards, away, or around the opportunity (or obstacle).When several characters react, only one reacts at a time — and each reaction causes a new reaction. Even plans made for beyond the next move are reactive since complex plans depend on the other side making certain moves.

They change after a journey

When a pawn reaches the other side, it can be exchanged for a captured piece. For story characters, the change may be more gradual but the journey  is still necessary. The altered character (or chess piece) can then re-enter the fray with new abilities. Sound familiar?

They do not travel in a vacuum

Until a king falls, there will always be at least two pieces on the board and usually there are more. Characters — those who change and those who stay the same — start the journey in the company of others. Stronger pieces often look after weaker pieces. The story may end with one character striking the finishing move or the checkmate may be a team effort. For there to be a story (or a game) there must be others.

In summary, people and pieces all move according to how they are made. They react according to their situations and plans. Some even change as a result of a journey. They do not undertake this journey in a vacuum.

Did you enjoy this post? Have another parallel that you’d like to share? Let us know what you think.
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