Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey

Writing: It’s Puzzling


Polar Bear

I get intrigued by a puzzle, and writing a book is the best way to solve it. ~ Anthony Storr

I love working jigsaw puzzles. As a child, I worked the block style puzzles with ten large pieces made of wood. Now my puzzles are more of a challenge, more pieces with only the slightest variation in color. I’m frustrated at first, but as each piece is fitted with the others, a picture emerges and I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Beginning a new puzzle isn’t as simple as sitting down and pouring the pieces onto a flat surface. The colors and shapes are crowded together with no rhyme or reason. It can be overwhelming. For me, the process of starting a new story feels like a jumbled mess of puzzle pieces scattered on the table.

Like my puzzle, my story has many pieces. So where do I start? The most obvious answer would be at the beginning, but that’s not always the answer. My story has many pieces with characters, a setting, a plot, sub-plots, dialogue and pace. All of these pieces must be joined together to form a story, hopefully worthy of publication.

My starting point is always the same. I turn all the pieces over and put the edge pieces together. Next, I attempt to make my first connection. This might seem strange, but I don’t look at the picture on the box for guidance, it’s turned upside down. I enjoy connecting the pieces not knowing where it will take me.

Unlike my methodical puzzling technique, I prefer to be a pantster with my writing, but it’s okay. What’s important is the pieces end up in the right place when I’m finished. Where my story began doesn’t matter. I can write scenes out of order and even write the ending first if I feel like it. All that matters is when I’m finished, I have a great story that contains all of the required pieces and is no longer puzzling.


Author: Jill Weatherholt

My name is Jill Weatherholt and I’m a writer. I have a full-time job, but at night and on the weekend, I pursue my passion, writing. I write modern stories about love, friendship and forgiveness. I started this blog as a way to share my journey toward publication and to create a community for other new writers. Raised in the Washington, DC area, I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina since 2004. I hold a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and a Certification in Paralegal Studies from Duke University. My first book, SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE, published by Harlequin Love Inspired released on February 21, 2017 and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. I was the first place winner in the Dream Quest One Short Story Contest in the Winter 2014-2015 competition. In 2014, I placed second in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest. I was also a top ten finalist in Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest in 2012 and 2013. I’m a 2010 and 2012 winner of the NaNoWriMo Contest. I love to connect readers, visit me at jillweatherholt.com

6 thoughts on “Writing: It’s Puzzling

  1. I agree with this 100%. As the various pieces fall into place, a viable story comes together. But it’s not some cut and dried process, each author has their own manner. And, I’ve found, each novel possesses its own method. Great post! And a lovely puzzle. 🙂


  2. Thoughtful analogy, Jill. Pretty puzzle and I look forward to someday reading your other one, your bestselling novel. 🙂


  3. Love the analogy! I’m a total pantser when I write, too, but in the rest of my life I like to plan every last detail and drive everyone around me crazy with super specific schedules. It’s funny how that works out. 🙂 Happy writing!


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