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.