Sunday, May 26, 2013

Drawing Outside the Lines

It was an interesting day today. This afternoon, David Lubar posted the puzzle below on his Facebook page.
by David Lubar

Now I've met Mr. Lubar, heard him speak (he talks way too fast), and I've blown snot while reading three or four of his books. I might be wrong, but he seems to be more of a word guy than a number guy. So I started thinking about what the the words that go with all these numbers are. Well, they all start with a "T." The next number that starts with a "T" is 21. That was one right answer. (The other right answer is 22, of course, based on the pattern in the second number). The point is, if you look a little outside the obvious pattern--draw outside the lines, if you will--you can arrive at a more interesting answer.

by Kate Annex Terrasochi
Later this afternoon I paid way too much for two tickets to a Pacers game. My wife, Margaret, is gaga over the Pacers, and one of the nice things about royalty checks is that I can occasionally treat her to something we never could have afforded just two years ago.

There were a couple of Miami Heat fans in the section next to ours, and the large and obnoxious Pacers fan directly in front of them decided to stand the whole time to block their view.

First nearly everyone nearby tried to convince the guy to sit down--he wouldn't. Then one of the Heat fans spoke to a police officer, the officer called an usher, and there was a long conference during which they decided that there was nothing they could do--the obnoxious fan was allowed to stand for the whole game if he wished. This took all of the first quarter and most of the second.

Finally, it hit me--there was a simple solution to this problem. I asked Margaret if she was okay with it, she agreed, and we got up to go talk to the Heat fans.

The solution? We traded seats with them. The big obnoxious fan took one look at our vintage Pacers shirts (we've been fans for far longer than I care to admit), and he sat down. And the Heat fans got to sit with a group of non-obnoxious Hoosiers. We're like Canadians, for the most part--way too nice for our own good.

Anyway, the point here is to look beyond the obvious solution. Particularly if you're a writer. The first and the second ideas you think of are usually mundane: boring. Sure, they might be perfectly serviceable ideas, but to really thrill your readers, think deeper--try something unexpected or just plain weird. Color outside the lines.