Today is Day #2 of guest blogger Cindy Martinusen Colomo, who is sharing her “Puzzle Method” with us. I’ll yield the floor to Cindy now:
BLOG 2 – MAYBE THE MOST FUN IN WRITING WEEK
Today, I’m jumping right in and tomorrow I’ll add some thoughts on trust and publishing realities.
Day 1 to 7 (at most 7 days or else you won’t ever get done!)
1. THE SPARK – a story begins with a spark of something. It might be:
* An image, situation, a character (someone you see on the street or someone who comes into your head) a climatic moment, a surprise twist, a newspaper headline. (My character of Emman in Orchid House started when I pictured a Filipino kid with a gun at his side, a cigarette butt in his mouth, as he watched Magnum P.I. through the open window of a small house)
* WRITE IT DOWN!!!
2. FIRST STORY PIECES – take that spark with you, and just see how more pieces arrive in your life.
* Many of these ideas and images come at the worst times, like in the shower, before bed or right when I wake up, or especially when I’m driving in the car. WRITE THEM DOWN!!! (Get a tape recorder for the car or pull over, take a notepad to the bathroom and have one by the bed)
* There is great power and fun to this time of free-roaming imagination. Don’t obsess over putting anything together right now. Just keep creating pieces. If two click together, then by all means, put them together! Don’t miss opportunities, let the story reveal itself with the knowledge that it’s going to change a lot. New plot twists, characters that surprise you, and research are just a few things that take your story to new places.
Note: I’m a big believer in writing every day or at least consistently. For the first week of creating this story however, I’d advise letting the pieces of your story come to life throughout, well, your life. Be open to the world around you. Give imagination some space to be free and maybe work on non-fiction if you have daily writing goals. For your fiction, meditate, go on a drive, take long baths, watch and read what inspires, eavesdrop at restaurants. And write down everything that comes to you.
Randy sez: It was interesting to read the comments that were posted today.
Gerhard asked a question for Cindy:
When you write out of sequence, do you know that you are now going to write an ending? Or do you just write a number of scenes and then later decide, or find, that a certain scene ends up being THE ending?
Second question: When you write a number of scenes there are obviously gaps between them, gaps to be filled in order to get the story from A to B so it makes sense. Do you then analyse and draw up a list of missing scenes and tick them off as you write them?
How do you know how not to overdo or underdo filling in the gaps? Too big a gap and the reader gets lost, too much filling and the reader gets bored?
Randy sez: I’ll defer this question to Cindy. Cindy, email me privately and I’ll post your response here tomorrow.
I used the Snowflake on my second novel (which is finished and resting before a final polish before going out to my critique group) and loved it. I am now trying to use it on my newest one and it’s just not gelling for me. This novel has multiple subplots and I think that’s why… for some reason I cannot seem to get the subplots integrated into the one paragraph summary, and without them the ‘main plot’ feels too thin to carry a novel.
I do think the Snowflake is right for me, but maybe not for this book? I have all the sample Snowflake materials but none seem to handle subplots like mine. Randy, any suggestions? In the meantime, I await the puzzle method’s explanation.
Randy sez: You should not try to get the subplots into the one-paragraph summary. Each character has a one-paragraph summary for their own story, so put the subplots there. It’s hard to say what method will work best for you. You may be a Snowflaker but need something different to get you unjammed. Or maybe you’re a hybrid. It doesn’t matter. When you’re stuck, just try something different till you get unstuck.
Tomorrow, I’ll be in Minneapolis for the board meeting of my favorite writing organization, but I should be able to post Cindy’s next article on the Puzzle Method without any problems. See ya then!