A Study in Strategy

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 writer strategy follow some of the same principles as chess strategy.

Rule #1: Protect Your King!

Whichever side can first defeats the opposing team’s main character (the king) will win. Often both the main protagonist and the main antagonist will have team members… or at least helpers and pawns… who protect and support the central character.

Rule #2: Protect Your Pieces!

Throughout the conflict, the number of supporters and protectors dwindles. Each type of piece (or character) has a different personality, potential, and range of reaction. Even a pawn can become a queen. This gives every character value and every sacrifice meaning.

Rule #3: Control the Center!

The center of the chess board is the higher ground of the story and whoever holds it has more choices. The side with more room to maneuver is the side less likely to make risky and daring attempts. The side in control is able (and tends to) play it safe. While many pitched battles may be fought over it, only one side can truly hold it at a time.

Rule #4: Anticipate Your Opponent’s Moves!

Writing is a game of mental chess where your opponent is the reader. Taking the obvious route will lead to your defeat at the hands of a skilled reader. Learn to think like a reader and then out-think him. To win, you need to think one move beyond the next move — and then at least a few more moves after that. Like a Chess Master.

Easier said than done. To get better at writing or chess, three words of advice remain the same — play, study, and practice. Then, sometimes, you will win.

Do you see any other similarities? Do you like this post? If you do, then let us hear from you.

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