Creating a Puzzle with Scoundrels


I’ve never been very good at jigsaw puzzles.

It’s a skill I’ve just been unable to master. I can’t see where a given piece fits into the picture on the box; sky and cloud pieces completely baffle me; and the red blob that has to be on the piece I’m looking for (because it extends from the red blob on this piece) is always smaller and more inconspicuous than I expect it to be. Generally, once any pieces with words had been connected (I’m pretty good with the word pieces), my job at family jigsaw parties was cheerleading for the others and making sure there were plenty of snacks.

But I do like jigsaw puzzles. So if I can’t put them together, maybe I could try creating one.

How do I start?

Well, let’s start with some Han Solo. Add in some Chewbacca pieces — here he’s a pilot, here he’s assembling complex electronics, here he’s muscle, here he’s just a big, hairy distraction. Yes, those should fit in nicely.

How about some Lando Calrissian pieces? Oh, yeah — definitely. Here he can be suave, over here clever, over here he can run some rings around some of the bad guys. In fact, we can have Lando all over this puzzle.

Hmm. That’s odd — the Lando sections and Han sections don’t seem to fit together too well. Maybe I should grind off these edges over here…no, better idea — let’s throw someone else into the mix. Ah — here are some pieces featuring an attractive young ghost-thief and her twin sister. Yeah, Lando’s always liked the ladies, and Han’s no slouch in that department, either. Yeah, that’ll smooth the corners a little.

Boy, these things are a lot more fun when you get to make up the pieces yourself. I’ll have to remember that. Of course, I still have to make them fit together right. That’s a little harder than it looks. But at least this time I know where all the sky pieces go.

What else? Maybe an Easter egg or two for the Expanded Universe readers. Winter and Kell, they can go over there. Yes, they fit in nicely, even for readers who haven’t kept up with the EU.

Almost done. We need some more pieces over here, so let’s add in a big, cheerful ship-thief, a sleight-of-hand pickpocket type, and a lady who can tap into pretty much any computer system. Oh, and we’ll need someone to get the whole ball rolling with the job pitch, and some bad guys to be the target. The target’s fancy vault…hmm. We’ll need lots of pieces for this part of the puzzle.

Just to keep things interesting, let’s throw in an Imperial agent around the edges. Naturally, he’ll want all the pieces to line up to his specifications.

Finally, we need to put a frame around the whole thing. Hmm…frame. There are a couple of different meanings to that word. Maybe I can do something with that, too.

And look at that — we have ourselves a puzzle! Hopefully, one that readers will have as much fun putting together as I had creating it.

You know, this was a lot more fun than I remembered. Maybe we should try another one, just for old time’s sake.

I’ll get the snacks.

Star Wars: Scoundrels, the new novel by Timothy Zahn, is available now.

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