Thursday, June 8, 2017

Writing Is Just Like Completing A Puzzle

I want you to think about completing a jigsaw puzzle. You sit down at the card table with a box in front of you. There is the picture that you are going to create. You open up the wrapper, open the box up and there, before you are 1000 pieces. You dump those pieces on the table and begin your journey. You know what that finished puzzle looks like. You know that all of the pieces fit together some how, and you know that there is only one way for those pieces to fit together.

Writing a novel is the same thing.

When you decided to write your novel, you knew, in your head, what that finished product would look like. You saw the end of the story. You knew the tone and voice of the story. Sure, it might have been a jumbled mess, but you saw that image in your head. Now the challenge was to determine how all of those pieces fit together. To get to that image in your head, there is only one path.

And yet, what I find so interesting, is that I see a lot of manuscripts and I hear from a lot of authors who take a different approach. They start creating a story just by putting things together. They hear one author using first person, so they put it together. Another author decides to start the story with the serial killer doing is dirty work so they put that in the story. The problem, however, is that they are potentially putting pieces to a different puzzle into the puzzle they are working on.

Writing a novel is about pulling the pieces out of that puzzle box, which we call your writer's toolbox that fit with the novel you are writing. If your story calls for writing it in first person, then you use that tool. If your story calls for a flashback, then you use that tool. You don't build the story in reverse. We simply do not sit down and say we are going to write a story in first person and then figure out the story.

Although it might be tempting to toss that literary device or approach into a story that you just discovered in someone else's novel, it does not mean it belongs in your novel.

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