How Pokemon GO Can Fix Your Stuck Story

Before you debate the wisdom of my title, let me clarify: if you never write, your story will never be finished. So, no, you can’t say your twelve-hour streak of catching little golem-like creatures is equal to quality time with your manuscript.

BUT.

You can use your play time to help you improve your story, and in so doing, you’ll fix that “stuck” spot that’s got you blocked from making progress.

Let me unpack that a bit with a personal example.

The advent of Pokemon GO drew me to…Ingress. Yet another augmented reality game (AR, for short), it’s a science fiction strategy game played via phone app and requires social participation to succeed. Ingress was created by the same company that recently released Pokemon GO, and it uses the same locations and stops that its contemporary uses.

It’s incredibly addictive. I could have probably named this article, “Confessions of an AR Junkie,” but I do have some restraint.

In theory.

Anyway, for someone who works from home, anything that drags me out of the house is a good thing, and that’s what playing Ingress has done. It’s also engaged my husband, introduced us to a bunch of local players, and led us to exploring more of where we live. Despite daily commutes (prior to working from home) and regular outings, there’s so much we don’t see as we wander around in our everyday lives.

Games like Pokemon GO and Ingress help us discover them.

How does this help your story?

It reintroduces your tired, frustrated writing brain to new stimulation. But it can do even more, if you so choose.

As I wandered passed a “portal” the other day, “hacking” for gear and debating the wisdom of attacking the enemy’s nearby location, I questioned what my character would do in this situation. Literally. I’m writing a futuristic paranormal romance right now, and something like this would be a legitimate question. I chuckled, but then I pondered that further.

What would her strategy be?

Who taught her that strategy?

Why would she make that choice vs. this one?

What technological advances would she have that might alter her view compared to my own?

Can you see how that happened? One silly analogy later, I’m delving further into my character than I would have otherwise. That’s called a trick of the writing trade — finding ways to use what we do everyday with little thought and employ it for our craft.

So how might you do this in the event you are writing a very different story than mine?

When you discover that new stop — or even discover a super hard-to-get Poke — ask yourself, what would my character do? How she feel about this? Why would he have missed seeing this spot before? What would this mean in his/her world?

Then keep going. Ask yourself “why” four-to-eight times, or until you smack against a hard stop that feels right. I bet you’ll have discovered something about your character you didn’t know.

Try doing that at every stop, every portal, at every level, and plug in different characters to see what they’d do differently or how their thoughts would segue to something else.

Silly as it may sound, it works.

We fall in love with games or puzzles because they encourage an activity in our brains that we enjoy and hopefully benefit from. Fighting that is useless! We’re going to find a way to do it. Rather than letting it be a hindrance to our craft, why not find ways to use to help you grown and develop as a storyteller, even when you aren’t writing?

Oops, I gotta go. Someone just attacked my portal in the town square, and I have to go even the score!