Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Puzzles And Books Under Construction

I can’t help but think how much writing novels compares to a puzzle.

Though I can’t really claim to know the proper steps to producing a magnificent puzzle nor do I know the secrets or have the ability to write a Pulitzer Prize winning novel, I do believe there are some similar procedures to acquire both finished products.

Just as there are numerous styles of books, there several types of puzzles. First of all, you need fresh original puzzles to capture your audience just as fresh ideas captivate your reading audience.

I myself, am terrible at putting together a puzzle with anything more than a 100 pieces, I have learned that finding the pieces to the border gives me a good basis to work with,. Likewise, a first draft gives my story direction. While working with my border, I watch out for the corners. In writing, my draft helps me to beware not to “write myself into a corner.” (I still manage to do that from time to time but it was a good analogy, anyway.)

Persuasive thinking can be done with wording content just as writing in a crossword puzzle makes you think one way when the answer is really another. This is a fun way to throw the reader into questioning who the villain of the story might be and give them multiple choices to choose from.

While writing. hidden within an author’s plot are words that heighten the suspense, just as words can be found in word search puzzles. Sometimes they are easy to spot, while other times a reader skims over them, unaware that they have any significance until later in the story.
Brain teaser puzzles work in a similar fashion. The author has written the story in such a way that the answer may be right in front of your very eyes but you don’t see it until the author reveals it to you and even then you wonder how you missed it. (I love those kind of books-- the hard to figure out ones-but the answer was right there all along!)

Events interlock and lead up to the climax of the book, they keep the reader wondering what will happen next just as piece by piece the jigsaw puzzle eventually reveals the full picture.
Some puzzles require grids. As an author it’s crucial to keep track of time lines and character roles. Have you ever read a book when a character role was confused with another? YIKES! Bad writing and bad editing. I shamefully admit a time line was a hard lesson for me to learn.

Every child’s favorite is the Tic- Tac- Toe, Three in a row puzzle. Basically there are three parts to the story, the beginning (introduction) the climax, and the ending. Okay, there is a lot of stuff in between those three steps too but the point here is that when the story is told, it’s time to end it.

And then there is the all time favorite of every Primary and Sunday School teacher who finds their lesson has ended early, the Hangman style puzzle. It’s the common knowledge puzzle. In writing, you may have the bad guy figured out, but you read on because you love the book so much that you have to see how it ends. So really, “Hangman” is a bad name for this analogy-- I was going more for the “Common Knowledge” theory on this one.

Last but not least, the “Jigzone Puzzle.“ You may be wondering what this puzzle has to do with writing. When I find writer’s block has me stumped, I wander over to the “Zone.“ Sometimes I just need a break and this is my favorite puzzle site. It’s about all the puzzle I can handle, nothing too mind boggling. It gives me a quick escape while my book is under construction.

May all your puzzles be best sellers!

Here’s a "Happy Harvest" challenge for you:
Click to Mix and Solve

1 comment:

Cheri J. Crane said...

Wonderful analogy, Jeri. I love puzzles, much to my family's dismay. During the holidays, I try to have one out to put together. I think I'm the only one who enjoys this kind of pastime. =D