You will be happy to know that I had a breakthrough last night. I was revising the chapters and plodding along with my outline when it suddenly hit me.
The main character is talking throughout the book about this major event in his life that has really affected him, but he only talks about it. What if I redid the first chapter and we experience that event with him? Then we can be as affected as he is, and his later interactions and difficulty getting through it are that much more impactful on us as readers as well.
It was like a piece of the puzzle finally came together. The chapter literally flowed from my fingertips and it made the succeeding revisions that much better because we had seen and felt the same things he'd seen and felt. We were there, on the emotional map with him as it were. And it colored the perception of the story's events. It made it better.
Stories are like a puzzle that we have to fit together. We have the characters, conflict, and setting that have to be balanced, but they also have to fit. It's a fine line for sure, but once you're on it, it's an exciting line. And I'm totally excited right now.
David Farland gave a great Kick in The Pants Entry about Story Puzzles. It's well worth the read. And with my experience over the past while of frustration when my puzzle wasn't coming together, it feels great to finally feel like a master puzzlemaker. The conflict is working. My characters are awesome. And my setting seems perfect. And I realized finally that my story puzzle is beautiful.
Do you see stories as puzzles? What do you do to work things out in your mind so the puzzle comes together?