Writing & Sliding Tiles

My assistant for this post.

Tools of the Trade is live, introducing some of The Suntosun Chronicles cast members. The sequel novel, Suntosun Circus, is slated for release this fall. As I roll forward with writing the next book (tentatively titled Suntosun Seasons), I dig again into inner territories. Discover anew links between my fictional stories and the masks worn in autobiographies of the psyche.

Literal and figurative puzzles recur in my stories. But it’s amazing how some children’s toys teach us how to deal with adult challenges and tasks. The sliding tiles puzzles I enjoyed when I was young proved especially useful.

With the assistance of my beloved cat, here’s how a fiction/real-life connection works for a quest story.

Because she loves climbing, I learned the domestic housecat can find every possible route into a basement’s drop ceiling.

So, I (protagonist) move one ceiling tile (obstacle, setting), and cat (goal) backs across tiles to another section. Central plot. Also approaching badlands/cave/et cetera where setting complicates goal.

Pull down two more tiles hoping to intercept cat. Simple plan: achieve the goal without venturing into badlands/etc.

Cat skirts the gap to a different part of the basement. Simple plan failed.

Move more tiles and take down others to widen the gap, possibly cornering the cat. Plan #2 is better, right?

At this point, not too many tiles are removed. I’m already encountering dust, cobwebs, and dead bugs. The badlands become more dangerous, the goal even farther & further from sight.

Cat displays unsuspected athletic prowess as she leaps the overhead chasm. More desperate pressure for achieving the goal.

Cat pauses to sniff a decomposing mouse. Lull before the final conflict or confrontation.

Move another tile. Oh, so close! Cat is now intensely interested in a ductwork section where a former homeowner cut a vent hole. Plot twist.

Our eyes meet. Oh, no! Don’t you dare! Cat scurries just out of reach and kicks a petrified skink into my hair. How’d that get up there‽ Cat dives for the hole! Focus on goal. Gross out later.

I break a tile and knock down part of the tile frame as I lunge for cat. Cat wriggles head and shoulders into the vent hole, but I grab cat’s back legs. Cat is captured. Success! Victory! Resolution!

I wipe cobwebs from her face and remember a sliding tiles puzzle I enjoyed as a kid. Eyeing the mess above and on the floor, I consider taking down the entire drop ceiling. Satisfied with her adventure, cat snuggles against me and purrs. Epilog.

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