Wednesday, July 3, 2013

a story map

That right there is how I mapped out most of the chapters in Grasshopper Jungle. The chapters usually begin at the ending, then have a frequently long and convoluted story in the middle that stitches together all kinds of improbable events from history, then they go back to the ending/beginning of the chapter again.

It's an interesting kind of path that I'd never used before in a novel, but is evident in some of my favorite chapters:

Stupid People Should Never Read Books

Eden Five Needs You

The Vice-President's Balls

Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone Never Wore Coonskin Caps

Rat Boys From Mars, and an Unfortunate Incident Involving an Inflatable Whale

Yes. Those are chapter titles.

In Eden Five Needs You, for example, the chapter starts as Austin and his girlfriend Shann are eating in a diner after a movie date. Austin goes through the entire plot of the ridiculous movie they saw and all the embarrassing things that happened to the couple in the theater in Waterloo, Iowa, and then the chapter ends again, back in the diner where the following conversation takes place:

“You know what I really love about you, Austin?”
I did not know what she really loved about me. Probably not my endurance.
I said, “No. Tell me.”
Shann said, “I love how you tell stories. I love how, whenever you tell me a story, you go backwards and forwards and tell me everything else that could possibly be happening in every direction, like an explosion. Like a flower blooming.”
“Really?” I asked. “I… Hmm… I never noticed that about me before.”