The game is over
Written by John Millen
Scrabble is a board game in which two to four players score points by building up words from individual letters. Each letter has a value and words can be formed either across or down the board like in a crossword. Players pick up extra points by placing a letter on special boxes marked on the board.
Scrabble is sold in more than 120 different countries, and in America, a Scrabble set is found in one in every three homes. Death by Scrabble is the story of a game of Scrabble with a difference. The two players hate each other and one of them uses the Scrabble tiles to cause a terrible ending to the game. An intriguing idea. Read on.
An effective short story
Writers of short stories usually do certain things to make their story effective. Which six of the following things does the author of Death by Scrabble do to make his story tight and exciting?
1 Set the story in several locations.
2 Involve a small number of people in the story.
3 Set the story in the present.
4 Have a lot of characters in the story.
5 Set the story over a short space of time.
6 Put a lot of different events in the story.
7 Set the story in real time.
8 End the story with a twist.
9 Break the story up into chapters.
10 Set the story in one single location.
Point of view
Writers can use either the 'first person' or the 'third person' to tell a story. The 'first person' is 'I' and the 'third person' is someone else. The first person is always involved in the action of the story and things are told from his or her point of view. The third person is someone who looks at the action - an observer - and tells us about it.
Does the writer of Death by Scrabble use the first person or the third person?
What effect does this choice have on the story?
Is this the right choice in your opinion?
Would the story have been more effective if it had been told from a different point of view?
A clever idea
The basic idea behind the story Death by Scrabble is a simple and clever one. A couple is playing Scrabble and each time they put down a word on the board, it happens. The man puts down 'FLY' and a fly enters the room. He puts down 'EXPLODES' and there is an explosion.
What happens in the story when the following words are put down on the Scrabble board?
now do this
1 Turn it around
Death by Scrabble is told from the husband's point of view. Take a section of the story and re-write it from the wife's perspective.
2 My own story
Take the idea of events brought about by words on a Scrabble board and write a short story about what happens. Do the words cause someone to win a great deal of money? Do the words make a man propose marriage to a girl when he doesn't really want to? Think of your own ideas and put them into a story.
The vocabulary used in Death by Scrabble is not complicated, but there are a few difficult key words and phrases. Here are their meanings.
blistering hot - very hot
crap - rubbish
smug - self-satisfied
a clipper - a fast sailing boat
jinxed - cursed
frayed - ragged at the edges
to finish someone off - to kill someone
to cross my mind - to enter my mind
to zap - to attack something with quick force
thermals - warm currents of air
unambiguous - with a definite meaning
awed - filled with great respect
vindication - proof that something was right
Read Death by Scrabble at www.short-stories.co.uk
For the motion: 1. a, 2. a, 3. b, 4. a, 5. b, 6. a, 7. a, 8. b
Against the motion: 1. b, 2. a, 3. b, 4. a, 5. a, 6. b, 7. a, 8. a