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Monday, June 20, 2011

The jigsaw which becomes a novel

A couple of years I took part in a creative writing course. The woman conducting the course gave the participants a copy of her published book carrying the name; Jigsaw.

Editing is a bit like putting a jigsaw together. You have all the pieces, you might even have the puzzle nearly completed, however a few pieces look out of place; they don't seem to fit properly where you put them. OK there you go; you take those pieces out and put them aside. You fiddle around with some other pieces you hope will fit better. In the process you come to the conclusion the situation is actually far worse than you anticipated.
Panic stricken you throw yourself in front of a passing bus. You've put so much time and effort in writing and editing the story it is driving you crazy.

I found a solution for this problem many writers suffer from; I have a print out of the complete book, going over each page I divide them in different sections.
I color each passage with a separate color;
  • red for action/conflict.
  • purple for discussions
  • green for descriptions
  • brown for memories/flashbacks/dreams
  • blue for anything else

So with the colour pencils out I am able to see which piece of the puzzle is where in the current draft. When making a real jigsaw puzzle I begin with the border and the corners, this gives the jigsaw a strong foundation and all the other pieces fit inside the border. You know if you've read J.A Konrath's tips you  put action or conflict in your first chapter, later you can play with different color combinations to see what suits best to keep the story flowing.

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