A Purposeful Plot

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 plots follow some of the same principles as chess games.

A Showdown

Check occurs when it appears a protagonist is about to defeat the main antagonist (or when it appears an an antagonist will defeat the main protagonist). This can occur at almost any point of the story or chess game. Except for in the first few moves of the game.

A Checkmate

Checkmate happens when the defeat of one side is inevitable in the next move. This typically happens after one or more “check”. Before a checkmate, one or both sides often experiences loss and maybe transformation.Sound familiar?

A Draw

This occurs when neither side can gain an advantage.

  • This may be because there are not enough pieces left on the board to force a checkmate. When creating a plot it is important to have enough of the right kinds of characters to overcome the main antagonist. “Enough of the right kinds” could be thing on the spectrum of one powerful character or many weak characters.
  • Another scenario is that the king is not yet in danger but the king has no way to move except for against an unconquerable foe (and the king’s personality does not allow such a move). Whether this “king” is the main antagonist or main protagonist, remember the traits of the character. Most people will not face an unbeatable opponent when ultimate defeat (the loss of the most important goal) is certain.
  • A third scenario that ends the game is when both sides play for a long time (50 moves) without using or removing any minor characters (pawns).

If your story is truly in danger of a draw, you might have the makings of a sequel in which the compromised character flees and tries again while living with the consequences of her choice. in chess terms, this would be a rematch.

Do you have other plot parallels to share? Did you enjoy this article? Let us know your thoughts.

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