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  • Writer's pictureJudy

June 25, 2023: Jigsaw Puzzles and Writing

I was watching some of my 8-year-old students working on a jigsaw puzzle a while back. It was a puzzle they had never seen before and they were working in a team. It was fun to just sit back and watch them work through putting it together.

As I watched, I began to think how much putting a puzzle together is like drafting a story.

- You need to know what the final picture is going to look like.

When you work on a jigsaw puzzle, looking at the picture on the box is always helpful in giving you a direction.

When drafting a story, it is often helpful to have your summary or synopsis done first, and use that as the completed goal.

- Starting with the edges allows you to frame your work.

It seems an almost universal jigsaw strategy to work the edges first and then the interior.

In writing, starting with the parameters can help to keep the story focused and cohesive.

- It is all about the details when working on the smaller pieces.

As with fitting together those jigsaw pieces and paying attention to shades of color, tiny marks, or interesting shapes, when writing, it is the attention to detail that allows your story to be assembled into a beautiful finished product.

- Missing pieces can ruin the entire thing.

Losing even the smallest piece and having a gap in the completed puzzle ruins the picture, no matter how gorgeous the rest is.

When writing, if your story has plot gaps or missing pieces, the overall enjoyment of the story will suffer, no matter how stunning the rest it.

- Never force a piece. If it does not easily fit, it is not the right piece.

I watched as one of my little ones tried to force a piece into a space it was clearly not designed for. Ultimately, it never fits, and the effort of trying to force it in can ruin some of the adjourning edges.

Like writing, trying to force a character, event, or detail into the story that should not be there, will only damage the rest of the project.

So to all my fellow writers out there who may be drafting their current work-in-progress, when your brain needs a break, pull out a jigsaw puzzle to decompress. 

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