Monday, October 24, 2011

The Big Picture

Doing jigsaw puzzles is a favorite activity at a local elderly housing complex. At any given time, three or four puzzles are in progress. Having all the pieces in a big pile looks overwhelming to my inexperienced eyes. I watch these folks separate the straight edged parts and begin to fit them around the edge. There's a definite order to their work. They refer to the picture on the cover often to verify they're on the right track.

Writing a book or article is much like putting a puzzle together. We have a vision for a story and take steps to achieve our goals. A setting is built, characters developed, and conflicts devised. Our early efforts may not look like much, but we have the big picture in our heads, and we work until the guy gets the gal, the murderer is caught, or the crisis is resolved.

Some of us have a more detailed picture than others. As a seat-of-the-pants writer, I may not have all the little nuances in an outline, but I know where to start and where to end. By keeping focused on where we want to go with our story, we don't get bogged down by all the daily glitches.

The end result of both the puzzler's and the writer's work brings much pleasure to others. They'll display the projects for a time, but then they move forward. There's always another puzzle to put together or book idea to spur them on.

Writers: How do you face the daunting task of writing a book?

Readers: Do you see all the individual pieces that make up a book or is the picture seamless?


Marja Verschoor-Meijers said...

Hi Susan, as a writer of non fiction it is a little different maybe, I do not necessarily have a plot since I write on subjects. I do however have a frame in mind, sort of how to build my case. Often I get revelation while writing, I love it when that happens.
Have a good week Susan.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Marja -

I understand since I also write non-fiction. Putting together an article can be just as demanding as crafting a plot.

Susan :)

Karen Lange said...

How do I face the daunting task of writing a book? I get a co-author! :) So, far, we've taken it one step at a time, trusting the Lord.

DenaNetherton said...

Susan, I get a basic idea, then work to figure out the ending. Once I know the characters and their situation, and where they'll end up, the rest is fleshing it out. It's very challenging, but immensely rewarding!

Nancy said...

When I write fiction, I get an idea for a story, a character and I go from there. In a longer novel, I'll do an outline, but only after I know where the characters want to go. That's the fun for me, seeing them flesh out their own story.

Melanie N. Brasher said...

I don't know if I have a system down yet since I've only written one novel. :) I always wanted to fictionalize some family stories, so that's how the novel writing adventure began for me. :)


Sarah Forgrave said...

I'm still experimenting with my writing process. Each story seems to require a different approach. :)

Kathleen said...

I don't know about writing, but I do know when I was in business management I learned to: Begin with the end in mind. It made it easier to design a critical path that would ensure I got to where I was going.

Terri Tiffany said...

I'm still so new at putting together fiction but more and more I am learning about the parts a book needs. I love the process and love seeing it all come together.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen - LOL! It's nice to share the workload, isn't it?

Hi Dena - I usually know the beginning and the end of a story. Getting from Point A to Point Z is the challenge.

Hi Nancy - You have a good plan. :)Getting to know your characters will determine a lot of the action.

Hi Melanie - Fictionalizing real-life stories is both challenging and rewarding. I've used some experiences I've had, but put them in different settings. Maybe I should do a post on the subject. :)

Hi Sarah - You're right. Each story is individual and demands a different approach. After all, your characters have varied personalities and will respond in unique ways.

Hi Kathleen - Yes, a beginning point and a goal is exactly what I was talking about above. :)

Hi Terri - Those puzzle pieces come together, but it's not always an easy process.


Rhonda Schrock said...

I don't write fiction, as you know, but I see each column as another chapter. I guess that would make a patchwork, wouldn't it? All these different pieces, stitched together.

(Your puzzle theme reminded me of my grandmother and aunts who adored jigsaw puzzles. Puts me right back on the farm in her living room.)

Kristen said...

I'm starting to plan key scenes. I used to be a pantser, but it was very inefficient, so I'm forcing myself to plan a little bit. I think that will give me some points to hit as I write the middle scenes. We'll see how it works this time around!
Have a fantastic day:)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rhonda - Chapters, huh? A book in the making - maybe?

Hi Kristen - Each writer has to find what works for them. You might want to check out Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method.

Susan :)

JD said...

Hi, Susan:

I haven't written or attempted to write a book, so I'll answer as a reader. :-)

I tend to research books before buying them, and this has ensured my purchase of some pretty engaging books. The stories are seamless, with all of the different pieces fitting together like pieces of a puzzle. I tend to notice the whole b/c it's the forest that draws me in more so than the trees.

As I study the craft of writing more, though, I may notice the trees a little more. :-)

Have a peaceful week!

Kathleen said...

I love, love, love jigsaw puzzles. I am all about parts & pieces, which is probably why I'd have made a great detective (or, in today's vernacular, forensics expert).

This made me think of the old adage: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.