Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mind Mapping for Authors

Before I start, I want to thank everyone who responded to my last post. Four kind souls volunteered to beta read Crimson & Cream, and two of them already finished (thanks +Lee Lyte & +Dominique Goodall!). I also received valuable feedback on the three potential book covers. If anyone else is interested in beta reading some epic fantasy, please let me know. Thank you!

Now, on to our regularly-scheduled program . . .

Mind mapping (aka concept or mental mapping) is a process designed to organize ideas into a visual outline format. Mind mapping is a way to capture and organize your concepts on a chart that can be expanded, modified, prioritized, and rearranged as you need. Mind mapping is conducive to:
  • Organized Brainstorming
  • Radiant Thinking
  • Dynamic visual diagramming
Why would mind mapping be a useful tool for an indie author? For the following reasons, and more:
  • Mind mapping is what you make it; there is no rigorous right or wrong with mind maps.
  • Outline your story visually.
  • Capture ideas and relationships grown from a central idea.
  • Create a framework for your chapters and scenes.
  • Create groups (characters, settings, story arcs) and subgroups.
  • Make placeholders for rogue ideas and save them for later integration.
This is not a "How To" post about mind mapping, rather a "Why To." There are plenty of great resources on mind mapping without me reinventing the wheel here, but below are some ways I've used mind mapping to help organize my storytelling:
  • Use shapes as placeholders for chapter ideas, add 'sibling' boxes for scenes, goals, characters, conflict, setting, and other components that make up your chapter.
  • Order and re-arrange your chapters (or scenes, etc.) with connecting arrows.
  • Use lines to connect dependent or related items.
  • Plop down ideas as fast as they come to you and sort them out later.
  • Create a 'template' and use it as a checklist.
There are plenty of free mind mapping programs available online. Currently, I use a program called VUE, but I've also been experimenting with MindMup, which lets you save directly to Google Drive.

Below is a flowchart I made in VUE for my upcoming book release. I started with a mind map of marketing ideas that I organized and refined and re-organized it until I had a step-wise road map I could use.

Author Update: I'm still finalizing the 2nd edition of Crimson & Cream in conjunction with addressing beta reader comments, while also finishing the latest batch of edits on Mirrors & Mist.

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