Jigsaw Writing

I just wrote this:

 “He spied the train coming out of the tunnel seconds before his right engine would have hid it from him. It wiggled out on the winding tracks like a huge dark worm leaving the safety of its cool hole in the ground for the warmth and brightness of the sun. He banked hard into a tight right turn and watched as the tail left the tunnel portal and the train hurried along as though its speed could somehow keep it from being seen. The black locomotive threw out a long thick ribbon of smoke as the engineer pushed it to its limits but it was too late. George circled the A-20 back around and turned towards the train, lowering the bomber’s gun filled nose. As he got closer George could see an anti-aircraft weapon mounted on a flatcar and orange golf ball like tracers began to rise up from it but slowly drifted back down and out of sight. The crew was possibly new and firing too far out of range from excitement and fear. Or maybe, thought George, they are old hands, purposely firing from a long distance to frighten the pilot of the diving airplane and keep him from attacking. George continued his dive and the orange golf balls came nearer.

The gunsight showed that the target was now in range of his battery of fifty-caliber machine guns. George placed the flatcar mounted anti-aircraft gun squarely in the sight’s center and pressed the button on the control yoke. The entire airplane shuddered and smoke from the guns wafted back from the plane’s nose and drifted passed the windshield. Yellow tracers showed George’s aim to be true and dust and smoke and pieces of both the flatcar and the AA gun flew into the air and dropped behind the fast moving train. A body was thrown from the gun and bounced alongside until finally disappearing into the dense brush that grew on either side of the tracks. The gun was still and silent as George roared over it. He glanced back at the still speeding locomotive and freight cars and could see that they would soon be entering another tunnel. George was determined that they would not make it. He kicked the left rudder hard and gripped the yoke tightly in both hands as he wheeled the twin engine attack bomber into a hard left turn and dove once again, this time placing the A-20’s reflector gun-sight reticle onto the black and heavily smoking locomotive. He pressed the firing button and the ground around the locomotive erupted into a cloud of dirt and dust and then the bullets found their target. Bright flashes appeared as metal struck metal and white vapor poured from the loco’s puncture wounds. Then, bright and sun-like against the dark green jungle, an explosion that ripped apart iron and steel and the blazing wreck flew from the tracks. The wooden freight cars dutifully followed it, crashing and splintering. George saw, as if in a dream, two of them flying through the air along with dirt, dust, palm trees and human bodies.”

 I think it’s pretty good. I’m happy with it. It’s a scene from my second novel. The thing is, though, it’s not happening until a long ways into the book.

I write like that, sometimes. Scenes keep coming into my head and I rush to get them down before I forget them. But it may be a scene, like this, that happens far into the book while I am still on the third chapter. I have another that involves my main female character, an Army nurse, in a heated argument with one of her Japanese captors. It also occurs much farther into the novel than I am, but it’s ready to go when I get there.

I had a lot of these disjointed scenes when I wrote my first novel, ‘Jenny.’ I keep it all in a folder I’ve labeled, “Vignettes.” When I’d get to the part of the story where those scenes are needed, I go in and copy and paste them. Sometimes they need a little work, of course. Often, things change while you’re writing the book, but the gist of it is there. Just lift it out and stick it in the right place. It’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I think I’ll call it, “Jigsaw Writing.”

It works for me for a couple of reasons. First, as I’ve mentioned, I need to get these scenes down while they are still fresh in my mind. But also because it keeps things from getting too boring. Sometimes there are scenes that are not particularly exciting to write, but they are important to the story none the less. It helps to leave them for a bit and jump into a more exciting part of the story. Once you’ve gotten that out of your system it’s easier to go back and write that less exciting part of your book. Or maybe you’re stuck. Jump ahead and write a scene that might happen ten more chapters into the story. The great thing is, you’ll still be making progress on the book.

There aren’t any rules on how you should write a novel. Who says you have to be linear? Try Jigsaw Writing.


I’m starting to get lazy about the cartoons! I’ll make sure I think of one for next week. I promise.


6 responses to “Jigsaw Writing

  1. Jigsaw is my favorite means of plotting a book. I write the story in scenes from different character’s POV, and make a note in a master list of who and what they are doing. It can be an adventure piecing it together if I’ve been working on it for a year or two…

  2. I Just did this yesterday. I cannot get moving on the “next in line” chapter, so I wrote another chapter that I hope will still be able to be used later. If not, well, at least I wrote something instead of being stuck for another day. I’m glad I’m not the only one to do this.

    What do you do if the piece doesn’t end up jiving with what you already have written by thy time you get to it? How much editing is too much? Where do you drop the piece as non-cannon to your story? Thanks for the blogs.

    • Tiffanie, if you’ve got your story outlined in your head, at least the basic idea of where you’re going, the chapter you wrote ahead shouldn’t be drastically different from the rest of the book. Names may have to be changed…places, maybe. Things like that. But as I said in the blog, the gist of it should be there.
      In my book, ‘Jenny,’ there is a section where a woman is thinking about her life and how badly she had screwed it up. I had written that for a man. But I realized it was perfect for my character, Laura Lynn. By simply changing a few things it fit perfectly.
      And even if you can’t use all of what you wrote, I’d guarantee that you would be able to salvage something.

  3. Yay! I love George. But I’m giggling over the mental image I get when I picture a wiggling train. Love the simile.
    And I don’t just jigsaw write, I write backwards, forwards, sideways, and sometimes while knitting. Whatever works.

    • Yeah, George is back. And he’s mad! Now, I don’t know where you’re going with that “wiggling worm” mental image. Maybe I’d rather not know.

  4. People actually use many different languages in order to communicate.
    After all, these artists generally have big budgets behind them.
    A singer, songwriter, producer who is also into fashion and movies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.