So, a good friend of mine one day asked me if I wanted to hang out and try something new. Not knowing what this “something new” was, I said yes out of curiosity. She then took me to my very first escape room where we had to figure out the mystery of a break out at Alcatraz.
Since then, I have done about five escape rooms, and I am already planning my next visit.
If you don’t know, an escape room is a game in which you use clues and hints to solve puzzles and riddles in order to strategize an escape or to solve a mystery.
I’ve experienced very low-key escape rooms where it’s only one room with a bunch of written clues that lead you to opening locks to find the key to get out. I’ve also experienced some very immersive escape rooms where there are multiple rooms, employees that play a character that helps you out with hints, and interactive decoration that makes the environment feel all the more real.
Whether I successfully escape or not, I always have fun. Not to mention, I’m aways impressed with the clues that are created for the room which leads me to writing.
No matter the genre you prefer writing, there is always an element of mystery you have to consider. Whether it’s the secret of a king that will be revealed at the end, the plot twist involving your antagonist’s motivation, or even who will end up with who at the end of your romance novel, there will always be some level of mystery you’ll have to play with.
Unless you are a master at writing mysteries, it can be difficult to figure out where and when you should lay a hint in order for it to have its full effect for the reader.
You don’t want to lay all the hints in one place where they’ll end up forgetting them by the time they need them. You also don’t want to have one hint show up in the beginning of the book that is just overshadowed by the next hint.
Escape rooms are a great way of getting a hands-on experience of how you can lay out all the hints and clues of a mystery. Not only that, but they can also help you learn how to lay fake hints to try to shift your reader’s attention elsewhere for a better plot twist reveal.
These escape rooms are all story-based in one way or another. So, they are also a fantastic and fun method of learning different tools for storytelling. When you’re in a group, you can see how people interact with certain hints, so when you get to writing your novel, you’ll have a more realistic idea of how your characters may interact with certain scenarios.
You’ll also naturally get a feeling of suspense as the clock ticks down to zero. Once you hear that you have ten, five or even three minutes, try and pay attention to how your body reacts. Do you get sweaty? Do you start to pace around? Or do you try to calm yourself down? How about those in the escape room with you? How do they react?
There is no better way to write about how someone reacts to panic or suspense than personal experience. So, if you can’t really find the words to describe it, an escape room is a pretty good way to get a visual and physical example of the feeling. Then, you’ll be able to write it out with a fresh memory.
You can also pay attention to how things are worded in the escape room. Hints and clues are written in a way that gives you just enough information to get you to where you need to go without it being too obvious. If you need help trying to word something without revealing something obvious, paying close attention to the wording of the hints can really help.
Lastly, escape rooms can help with pacing. Some escape rooms make the hints very linear, so it’s easy to follow. Others may have the hints all scattered around, so you have to keep on top of the hints you’ve found, so when you find something, you know what to link up with which hint.
Different methods used in escape rooms create a different atmosphere with pacing. For example, with a linear path, I found myself fairly calm with the countdown, because I knew I just had to keep following directions. However, with a hint-scattered room, I got panicked a lot quicker, because I started to realize that though I may have found a hint, I may not have to use it until far later after I’ve figured out a few other puzzles.
Escape rooms are just so fun. Even if you’re not the type to figure out puzzles quickly, you can still try it out. Hints will be given to you, because at the end of the day, the people there want to make sure you’re having fun.
While you’re figuring the clues out, you’ll subconciously (and conciously if you so choose) be learning new tricks for your own writing.
So, why not give it a try? Find a few friends and check out an escape room. I definitely recommend any writer to try one out.