What An Old-Style Gaming Console Taught Me About Writing

“How do I always end up with my hands inside taken-apart electronics?” my brother asked me.

I don’t know, really. He takes computers apart for fun, cleaning, and what-have-ya. But it provided great training for me.

Even though this wasn’t a computer…

And it wouldn’t have been possible without my cousin. A while back, my Playstation 2 wouldn’t work. When I told him, my cousin Cameron said he could help. He had a console he hadn’t used in a while, and said we could have it.

I picked it up, along with some new-to-me games, as part of the Sunday shopping trip. So that was neat.

The thing was, it was an older PS2 model (not the slim one, but the one with the disc reader that pops out like the CD drive on a computer).

Hmm. Okay, that was fine. We got it home, and it didn’t work. No love lost there–my cuz said he hadn’t played it in a long time, and I was prepared for that outcome.

Then, I started to do some research on it. There’s a way to adjust certain things inside a PS2 without killing yourself (imagine that), or blinding yourself (good to know). It voids the warranty, though.

But since the machine is more than 5 years old, I’m 99.999% sure that anything would have run out by now.

And before I relayed that info, my brother had the thing about halfway apart. After a few adjustments, the motor inside makes five noises before stopping. Progress!

Which reminds me of something important…

As a writer, can you take things apart? Sure. Sometimes it’s really hard, but yes, it can be done. It’s not the same as a flathead screwdriver on the bottom of a gaming console, but it’s similar.

Just keep your eyes, ears, and mind open as you read.

Stories, emails, books–what moves you about them? Snappy dialogue, lush description, a good P.S., what-have-ya?

Can you see the threads drawing together–some things that characters “know” to be true, but because you see everything, you know their opinion is wrong? That’s something that will keep readers reading.

I know it’s hard (I’m reading the Legacy of the Force novels right now), but try not to get so caught up in the story that you can’t sit back and observe. Personally I can pick out some things here and there, and I’m getting better at it…that’s what practice is for.

Yeah, I’m telling you to resist. It’s hard with a good story or email–that’s by design. But you can’t see what’s behind the curtain if you don’t slow down to look.

Are you good at stepping back to observe as you read emails, stories, and books? Do you notice that structure? Or maybe it’s harder for you? Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Until next time,

Ty

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About Ty Mall

Thanks for stopping by. I've almost always been interested in writing, among other things. Along with discovering pop culture, I've uncovered a lot about the craft over the past 10 years. And whether you're a fiction writer or email copywriter, I'm here to pass on what I've found out. And have a ton of fun in the process.
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