Jigsaw Plotting

When I was a kid, I loved to work jigsaw puzzles. Don’t have time anymore, but my method of novel construction is kind of like working a jigsaw puzzle. I have a lot of disparate plot ideas, and I make notes about things to include in a novel on random scraps of paper that never seem to wind up in the same place but have to be hunted down among the clutter on my computer desk and my diningroom table.  Then, as I write, I try to fit together these strangely shaped and hard-to-fit pieces to form a coherent plot. Not the easiest way of writing, and I know many authors would call it utterly absurd. The thing is, it works for me, and somehow I do wind up with a novel that makes sense (at least to me !) and tells a story.

Every writer has to find his or her own method of work. There is no “one size fits all” system. In speaking to writing groups, I often get questions from aspiring writers about my work habits. I try not to scare them off by admitting how erratic my “work habits” really are. But the thing is, they are looking for some magic formula that, if followed, will make them a successful writer. There is no such formula. At least not beyond this one: Place your behind firmly into the seat of a desk chair, turn on the computer, and WRITE. The method by which you form your plots, develop your characters, bring your novel or short fiction to a satisfactory conclusion will be your own. You may get ideas from other writers, but ultimately you have to find a way that works well for you. I’ve done that, and no matter how crazy my method may sound, it does work for me.  What works for you?

And now to put those jigsaw puzzle pieces together.



About E. Rose Sabin

Fantasy and science fiction author.
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