Cuttings: Write Like You Play Tetris Write Like You Play Tetris | Cuttings

Things of interest.

August 27, 2020

Write Like You Play Tetris

Drop it until you clear it.

I never imagined that Tetris could be used so metaphorically, and aptly:

Writing clearly is like playing Tetris. Sentences should be presented with clauses that drop down and slot together efficiently. At the earliest available opportunity you drop in a block that completes the line and points are won/made. […]

Here we see the Tetris player drop a sequence of blocks leaving a 3x1 gap down the left edge. Where are they going with this? More blocks stack up on the middle and right, there are “bubbles” in the pile that are covered by squares and there’s still that annoying gap on the left holding them back from clearing. Time passes. The screen is now getting dangerously full.

Then they drop in a pair of 4x1 blocks that completes rows 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. The bubbles on rows 4 and 7 become exposed making a T shaped hole. The next block to fall is a T shape. The screen clears, the sentence’s cognitive buffer is flushed, and we move on to the next point.

Given that I deal in legalese, I relate well to the (mental) stack overflow metaphor:

Overflowing that buffer really does feel like a stack overflow, too. Your whole mental state just suddenly disappears in a puff of smoke.

This resplendent sentence in the Vulkan spec did it to me the other day:

The layout of subresources of images on other logical devices that are bound to VkDeviceMemory objects associated with the same underlying memory resources as external memory objects on the lost device becomes VK_IMAGE_LAYOUT_UNDEFINED.

I got about half way through and suddenly discovered I didn’t know where I was, what year it was or my name.


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