Falling To (Puzzle) Pieces

You know that expression, “Man plans, the gods laugh?” Yeah, they had me in mind. See, I don’t write my books chronologically. I try to, but I end up writing something at the beginning that really belongs near the end, and some things at the end that belong in the first act. What I think are¬†middles are beginnings or ends, and the beginning ends up being the middle.

I’ve told my beta and developmental editor that when I build a book (and it is building), I put it together like a jigsaw puzzle. Some days, it’s finding all the blue sky pieces, other days, it’s finding the leafy greens or the soft purples (but no, not that purple, that goes in the other corner, see how it’s pinker than this?).

There comes a time, though, when I’m ready to work on all the edge pieces. You know, the ones that have one straight edge that defines a boundary of the picture? This time around, when I was working on the edge pieces, I realized the puzzle wasn’t matching up. The corner pieces–the major turning points in the story–weren’t from the puzzle I thought I was doing.

The Shape of Story

Funny thing about working on puzzles. You can almost never do them linearly. In the middle of looking for all the border pieces, you’ll find clusters of matching colors, obvious transitions, or unique parts of the picture that you put together on the way to establishing a border. By the time you get the border built, you have patches of story built up already, along with a general idea of where they go. All you have to do is find those stubborn transition¬†pieces that hook your patches together. During this time, you can see much more clearly where the holes are, but it’s not so easy to figure out which pieces fit in those holes.

Yet in the end, you do finish the puzzle. It didn’t form from left to right, top to bottom, or start to finish, but rather it came into being in spots and patches, emerged from a bunch of discrete images and colors, and into a complete picture. And it’s the best feeling in the world.

 

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