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, will release in March, 2017. It's now able for pre-order on Amazon. 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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