The other day, I was wondering why I was enjoying writing so much, especially since I was trying to solve a plot dilemma. Then it hit me. The story: plot turns and twists, characters and their relationships, and the unique and strange worlds is the ultimate puzzle.
I’ve always enjoyed puzzles. However, I was often unsatisfied after spending hours solving a complex one. Despite the effort, I felt nothing was achieved. It was just a mental exercise.
Creating a fiction novel, hopefully I will enjoy reading, seems to be the ultimate puzzle exercise. It’s a “human puzzle.” It’s wonderfully complex and contains elements that can be combined in infinite variety.
The challenge is to weave the elements together in such a way as to create an enjoyable experience for the reader as the puzzle is unraveled page by page before their eyes!
How and Where To Start.
When I’m considering what I wish to write about I try to block out specific stories that I’ve read—not easy to do I admit. What I mean is—focus on what you like—subjects that you have followed for awhile. The more familiar the subject is to you, the easier the creative process.
I think its also important to understand your own values. In my case, I know that I prefer to read about individuals who stand up and try to do the right thing for those around them, who try to make the world a better place. This is one reasons I’ve been a supporter of NRDC, Sierra Club, and Greenpeace for thirty years. It’s been my way of trying to do something that will help all people—working toward a healthier environment.
And, importantly, without a passion for writing, I can’t see the opportunity for long term success. This is one of the reasons it took me so long to complete my first novel. I enjoyed the concept of designing a story, but I couldn’t muster the desire, the passion, to see it through—until now.
So you have a good idea and your belly is full of fire…where to start? After dozens of incomplete starts, I did discover more than one truth, at least they’re truths for me. One of these is that as I build my story I must constantly ask myself why? Why did this happen? Why is my character like this? Why is this world like this? Answering the why over and over again and noting your answers builds a back story. This back story creates consistent characters and worlds that bring your story to life, and this is something I believe every writer owes their readers.