Scrabble Day the Writers’ Way
Scrabble enthusiasts have a lot to look forward to as April 13 – Scrabble Day – approaches. Scrabble, which involves forming words with a set number of lettered tiles on a grid-like game board, is one of the most popular word games in the world. It is available in 29 languages, and has become a household name for families and word enthusiasts everywhere.
For grammarians, playing Scrabble can be a fun way to enhance creativity and polish your spelling. It can also, interestingly enough, help to improve your writing. Here’s how:
The goal in Scrabble is to use as many lettered tiles as you can to form words, and to gain points by using less common letters (which are worth more points). Not only does this stretch a writer’s vocabulary, but it helps you to think outside the box in creating words that are uncommon and/or more advanced than you may typically think to write. This aspect of Scrabble makes it a great learning tool for both professional writers and student writers. There are also a variety of ways you can bend the rules of the game to encourage spelling prowess. Wikihow.com explains some of the ways you can change the game to help teach spelling in this article.
When we write English, we construct sentences from left to right and stack our sentences downward. Similarly, Scrabble words are formed from left to right, and flow downward in columns. If even subconsciously, the act of forming words in this manner helps even novice writers to improve their writing skills. By practicing the motion of moving from left to right and then downwards with words, our brain learns not to waste energy on such structural functions because it is already familiar with them.
Scrabble rewards the rarity of words and letters. By ranking tiles based on frequency in the English language, the player with the greatest ability to think up uncommon words is often the victor. By thinking of rare words, the Scrabble player is unconsciously developing his or her ability to come up with synonyms (words with the same or similar meanings) on the fly. One important skill among writers is the ability to state things in the most creative terms possible; our work can be enriched using infrequent phrasing and unique synonyms.
Scrabble teaches us to use specific language. As languages change over time, we tend to incorporate slang into our everyday life – just take a look at urbandictionary.com to get a taste of the immense amount of slang that we use every day. But Scrabble only allows players to form words that can be found in the standard dictionary. While slang is not off limits in writing, practicing official words and definitions can help writers make their work more universally understandable.
Keep in mind that definitions are always being added to the dictionary. Take a look at this list of new dictionary words that Grammarly published in 2012.
In playing Scrabble together, we have the opportunity to take a step away from the television and familiarize ourselves with the simple act of communication. This invariably helps us grow as writers. Much like a writers’ group, Scrabble engenders an atmosphere of competition and creative dispute.
“That’s not a real word!”
“You don’t spell that with a ‘w’.”
So the next time you find yourself sitting down with friends or family to play the popular game of Scrabble, remember to take the time to fully absorb the lessons it has to teach. If you’re a teacher, lighten the mood in your classroom by bringing out the Scrabble board. If you’re an author, give your eyes a break and bust out Scrabble to help give your brain a stretch.
If you’re just looking for something interesting to do, train yourself to be a Scrabble expert – and know that you’re both entertaining and teaching yourself at the same time!
What was your highest Scrabble score? Let us know in the comments!