Writing is a Puzzle

I’ve always been a problem solver. I enjoy understanding a problem and then plotting to solve it in numerous different ways. I guess this is why I ended up in IT and moved towards programming. Although people tend to think of programming as a boring mathematical discipline, it is actually extremely creative. After all, you are given a problem – “create a system that does X” and ultimately you have thousands of ways to solve it. Programming is just a series of puzzles you need to complete in order to end up with a working system.

Now that I have started writing, I find this is just another puzzle. I liken it to a jigsaw. The complete puzzle is the entire story. The plot and character development are the pieces. It is always easier if you can refer to the complete picture on the box, but that is only a guide; you still have to fit the pieces together yourself. I am one of those people who like to pick out the corners and edges first. These are the characters and key events that drive the story forward. I then fill in the middle pieces with description, thought, and speech, which is easier now I have a sturdy frame.

I am currently travelling through Mexico, inhabiting a small island called Holbox (Casa Blat ha) as I write this. So I find another puzzle to compare programming and writing with- learning Spanish. This time, I don’t have a picture on the jigsaw box; it is just too big to visualize. What I do have is friendly locals and travelers who can give me new pieces of the puzzle and show me how they fit together. In this case, the edges are the verbs and their conjugations as well as what I would call “connectors” (to, from, and, etc). The pieces that make up the centre are nouns, adjectives and a vast array of vocabulary that add colour and focus to the bigger picture.

Before I left Australia, I sent Heartless- the sequel to Ruthless, to my editor, so now I can begin collecting the corners and edges for the third and final book in the trilogy- Soulless. I’m sure there will be elements of my travels that impact what the complete puzzle will look like. If it is anything like the view I am gazing upon now (long white beach with aqua blue water beyond), it will be my best book so far.

Esther Krogdahl Mexico Isla



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