Sunday, February 10, 2013

Novels Are Like Puzzles


I've come to the conclusion that writing a novel is like building a puzzle. The edge pieces are the easiest, the framework. These are things like the setting, the time period, the genre. Then there are some pieces that stand out from the others, that you build first. Like the hero/heroine, goals, conflicts, and motivations. After those chunks of puzzle picture are assembled, it's time for the more subtle areas, the subplots, the subtext, the secondary characters, the glue-scenes that hold everything together.

What is hard to do is building a puzzle with a major section of pieces missing. Which is what I've been trying to do. I couldn't quite see how the elements in my story would combine into a rousing, exciting climax that will make the rest of the story seem as if it had reached an inevitable and natural end.

This weekend, after a productive week on my WIP, I finally found those missing pieces. After trying out lots of possibilities, I found the ending that would work. And I knew it as soon as I jotted it down. THIS is the one. This is the piece that makes all the other pieces make sense. 

Whew! What a relief! I can now begin to layer in the foreshadowing of this final event in the story and write toward this ending with purpose. Woohoo!

My friend Katie Ganshert and her husband are in the process of adopting a child from the Congo. In order to help raise the needed (and considerable) funds, they're holding a Puzzle Piece Fundraiser. You can sponsor a piece of this puzzle, and you can become part of their adoption story. Please consider supporting the Ganshert family, with prayer, with encouragement, with financial gifts. I just know this child God is preparing for them to bring into their family will be blessed and changed forever.

Q4U: When you build a puzzle, do you build the outside pieces first? Do you separate and turn over the pieces before you start building?


  1. I don't have a lot of patience for puzzles, at least not the 1500-piece kind. Unless it's a group undertaking I rarely do one. But yes, when I do, I turn over all the pieces first, then start building the outside edges. It's a great analogy for the writing process. I'm compiling a church history right now -- *so* many pieces to sort through! I still can't quite figure out what the finished project is going to look like. ;)

  2. outside first. like colors grouped together, then charge ahead! :)

  3. I build by color.

    Love Katie & her exciting future & how you're putting the word out there!
    ~ Wendy

  4. I don't know how I do it in writing but with a real puzzle I always do the edges first. :-)
    Great metaphor and congrats on finding those missing pieces!

  5. Oh, I LOVE it when those pieces fall right into place in our stories.

    And I'm so excited about Katie's fundraiser. I hope it goes amazingly well!

  6. Some times I feel like it's a puzzle and I'm painting one puzzle piece at a time. :)

  7. I always start at the edges and work in. Seems easier. I love this fundraiser Katie is doing. :)