The never ever ever ending story

When I was a kid, we lived on a windy hill where there were very few houses. It was perfect for kite-flying. Usually my dad made my kites out of sticks and brown paper. It was his specialty. They were wonderful, but they never flew very high. So one day I decided to buy a fancy plastic kite. It was bright blue with a yellow tail. And it flew so high, that I could barely see it. Then the wind whipped the string out of my hand. I chased my kite and the just-out-of-reach string down the hill, but the kite was strong and the wind was faster, and I wound up out of breath at the bottom of the hill watching my kite fly out to sea.

Today I’m thinking about that blue kite with the yellow tail because my novel is getting away from me. Now at 60,000+ words and no end in sight, I feel like I’m chasing the string again. It’s there just beyond my fingers. So I’m running downhill, and the story is ahead of me hurtling toward something… is it freedom? Or is it just a runaway story that needs whipping back into shape?

So much for that outline I was so proud of back in September. So much for all the pride and superiority I felt over my domain of this story. Now I’m just a kid again. Out of breath. Frustrated. Wondering where is this all going to lead?

After I lost my fancy blue kite my dad bought another one. This one got away from me too, but someone caught the string and brought it back to me. I was grateful that I got to fly that kite many more times, but it’s the one that got away that I always remember. If I could have grabbed hold of that string, and it took me along, where would we have ended up?

And if this story is taking me on a wild ride, should I just let it?

Map out your story

On Tuesday when I was struggling (before I bolted to the mall) I started to look up plot graphs. I remembered that Nathan Bransford had done one for LOOKING FOR ALASKA, and I thought/hoped that it might help to focus me on my work. Among other things, I came across this:

Can you tell what story it’s from? Of course it would take a teacher to create something this great. It’s basically a visual map of the entire plot of the story. And it’s a fabulous way to get kids to think about story/plot. But it might actually be a really handy tool for visual writers as they try to work out their own plot lines.

Heck, I’m going to try it. Eventually.

Of course, a traditional plot graph looks like this:

Effective, but boring. However, it’s probably what I’m going to use to keep myself organized.

For more story maps and plot graphs search for “story plot graphs” in your browser.

Now join me in rubbing your hands together and wickedly laughing, “mwah ha ha ha ha!” whilst plotting your latest revenge… I mean story.