Writing with Jigsaw Puzzles and Tinker Toys

Patricia Wrede says:

Sometimes it seems that there are a zillion different metaphors for how writers construct a plot. There’s the sculpture metaphor (carve away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant). There’s the pottery-making metaphor (add a lump of clay, work it until you have the center, then shape and add more clay as and where needed). There’s the jewelry metaphor (like stringing different colored beads in a pleasing pattern) and the quilt-making metaphor (combining small scraps of different-colored cloth to make a large pattern). There’s the soup-making metaphor (see what you have in the fridge and start popping things in a pot to cook; season to taste).

The metaphor that I’ve run into most often – and the one that’s been most descriptive of the way I usually work – is the jigsaw puzzle metaphor.

Wrede’s an author I’m quite fond of; I’ll probably have more to say about her books on some other occasion. She has a blog where she talks about writing, with results that are often enlightening and always interesting. In the quoted post, she goes on at length about how she’s currently building her plots, and it’s fascinating, especially since I can’t imagine ever doing anything like it. And that’s OK—one of the reasons I like reading Wrede on writing is that she understands that different methods work for different writers.

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