Today we’ll pick up another installment in the “Puzzle Method” by Cindy Martinusen Coloma. This is installment #7 in the series she’s doing with us.
Yielding the floor to Cindy:
Time frame – week to a month
As you read this, I’m in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains about to begin 5 days where the subject will be writing. There’s something rare and amazing about Mount Hermon, and it’s been 6 years since I’ve been here. My husband of less than a year is here for the first time, so I’m excited to share this with him and to be on faculty for the first time. Okay, back to the Puzzle.
Reminder – this method is for “Advanced Fiction Writers” – those who have read a lot, know story, and have worked at the craft. Otherwise, the structure of a story will not be understood and so all those pieces will be like when you first open a puzzle box. But with this group, “advanced” seemed a given.
Step 7: FINAL CONSTRUCTION
* NOW start with chapter 1 and go from beginning to end. Some parts will be sent to the cut file (but don’t just delete them) and other sections will surprise you with a vivid way to raise the stakes. But now you’ll smooth it out.
* This is when you can compare your story to The Writer’s Journey, or other structures if you wish.
* Be sure to check EACH scene to make sure it PROGRESSES the story. If it doesn’t, move it to the cut file.
* I mentioned this earlier, it’s amazing how much easier it is for me to connect and add needed scenes when I create this way.
Step 8: EDITING STAGE
* From Chapter 1 to End – Edit and rewrite
* Again, check each scene for story progression
* Within each scene check paragraphs and sentences – tighten and cut unnecessary interior monologues, descriptions, etc.
* Check for development of characters - each should evolve and be changed from the beginning to the end (unless your story is about a character who fails and doesn’t change)
* Check balance of narrative and dialogue, action and raising of stakes against development of character, setting and plot.
* Finish editing, revising, & polishing
Randy sez: LOL, the Puzzle Method is starting to look a lot like REAL WORK. The truth is that you have to do the hard work of analysis sometime. You can either do it up front or on the back end. Let me emphasize that there is no “best method” that works for everyone. There are “best methods” that are best for certain people and are not so great for other people.
Your mission (and you have no choice but to accept it) is to find the “best method” which works best for you. When you do that, writing will be a joy and a delight. If it’s not, then look around for somebody else’s “best method.”
We’ll conclude next week with Day 8 of Cindy’s Puzzle Method.