|Do you think the princess would be my agent?|
Video games are fun. Books require attention. That's why more people will read what Toad tells Mario in my cleverly edited graphic before they even take a second look at all this wordy text. Don't feel bad if you're one of them. The Mario Bros were top notch Italian authors who got their break during the 1980s. Plumbing was just their day job.
What can we learn from Mario and Luigi about writing?
- Don't explain everything. Just start the story. Super Mario Bros opens with Mario being attacked by what else? Mushrooms. Why? Nobody knows.
- Take a break. Whether you are writing or playing video games, if you don't take a break, you'll get cranky. You might even get grounded. Hit that pause button. Save a the end of the level. Go outside and take a walk. And don't neglect your friends.
- You need friends to beat the game. Other people know the secret clues to get to the next level. Someone else told them. No one knows who first figured out where to get the hidden stars or bonus items, but some levels are too hard without them. Writers need other writers for this same reason. Whether you know hundreds of writers or just one or two good ones, you will help each other out when you get stuck.
- Keep sympathetic. Mario struggled. How many times did he die? From your characters to your own persona as an author, all should be relatable.
- Take the money and run. Before Mario and Luigi started chasing the Princess and gathering gold coins, they had a day job. And who in their right mind would have financed these working class boys? Each time they reached the end of the level, they were told, "Sorry but the princess is in another castle." Writers, gold coins will not be discovered hovering in the air.
- Focus on one level at a time. Mario couldn't afford to sit around and day dream about what the Princess would say when he finally got to the right castle and freed her. From the very beginning, players knew the goal and how many levels there were. When we write a book, we outline the chapters. The same method applies to a writing career. Know your what you want, but also define your short term objectives. Break it down so you can focus. You can book tickets to Tahiti later.
- Focus on the game. To operate a controller, you must use two hands. Otherwise Mario walks into a ditch or jumps up and down like a fool. Keyboards require two hands. And distractions can be lethal.
- Winning is not the point. Winning disappoints every player. It's over. The end. Playing is the fun part. Don't worry if you haven't achieved your career goals. You are achieving them.
In reality, video games require as much attention as books. If you've ever played a game with a weak design and a poor writing, you know this. Super Mario Bros ranks as the most recognized and most popular played game. It contains many crucial elements that make for a good story.
Thank You Mario and Luigi!