Saturday, April 11, 2009

Selective Obsession

We've often heard of "selective compression", the modeling concept of reducing the size of something (a structure, for example) to better fit the layout. A nine-bay factory building becomes five bays wide, for example. A concept I use fairly often is "compressive selection". This is choosing a smaller example of something because it's more achievable as a model. For example, if considering a mainline junction with a branch as a subject for a layout, I might focus on the branch and only suggest the heavily-travelled mainline for a more achievable scope.

But many folks fall prey to "selective obsession". This is where one idea, one element, one town, one industry becomes stuck in their minds and they refuse to consider any change. This leads to compromising the entire layout for this one prize, even though the end result is unsatisfying overall. The other elements are squeezed into less and less space; the operating connections become ever more convoluted; and any logical fit to the real-world exceedingly remote. Yet they hang on to that one idea, come what may.

This might be the guy who wants to handle forty-car grain trains on his HO 4X8, or the fellow who insists on a division point yard, even though it shrinks the rest of the layout so severely that the yard makes no sense operationally. Or the poor soul who clings desperately to an admittedly lousy design from an old book because he already built the benchwork.

Becoming too locked-in to anything too early in the design process restricts your flexibility and creativity just when you need it most. Balance is the key. When you find yourself resisting logical ideas and alternatives because you say to yourself, "But I can't give up Chicago!"; you may be a victim of Selective Obsession.