As many of you are in the crisis of NaNoWriMo, here is a reprint of a post I wrote years ago. It describes how helpful Mind Mapping is and how it can stimulate your creativity and work through your plot ideas.
And of course, any author can use these techniques to develop great action and character elements for each story.
Brainstorming ideas seem to be one of the most difficult phases in the writing process for many writers. As I have discussed in a previous postThis rush of ideas that flash and thunder in our brains often seems unruly and difficult to use.
I introduced … the practice of mind mappingwhich is used in many disciplines – for example, in classrooms for writing essays and in business meetings for problem solving. Mind mapping can be used in almost any situation where ideas need to be put into practice.
Mind Map at macro and micro level
I've never seen anyone specifically looking for new structures or fiction plots about mind mapping. I'll show you how Mind Mapping can be useful to the novelist. The beauty of this technique lies in its versatility. You can work on your novel at macro or micro level. You can create a mind map for each main character (and even for each minor character), for all your main and subplots, and for other aspects such as historical research and scenery.
If you go deeper, you can merge mind maps, which I'll explain in a later post. First let's look at some basic mind maps that you can create to make your creative juices flow and bring order to chaos.
Brainstorming characters and theme together
I am a characterful novelist and therefore always start first with character ideas and topics. Let's look at my novel as an example To blame someone, You can tell from the title what the theme of this novel is. I wanted to explore the guilt from all angles, and what I had in mind was a psychological exploration of Agatha Christie's novel Murder on the Orient Express.
I had already made an offshoot of her novel And then there were none left (Innocent little crimes), so this novel of her was next in my mind to do. I had a character, Billy Thurber, who was not supposed to be my protagonist, but the catalyst for exploring this issue of guilt. I planned to play the novel in a small coastal town today.
I took out a large piece of paper and wrote in the middle "Billy Thurber" (see my previous post How do I create a mind map? From there I spoked spokes in a circle based on his name. I have brainstormed various things that other characters in the book could attribute to a drifter who unwillingly comes to a judgmental small town.
I asked the question, "Why would anyone want to kill or hurt Billy? Because they think he ____. "I thought of incidents Billy could be held responsible for: theft, fire, extortion, kidnapping, rape, murder, jealousy, anger, paranoia, and fear. When I had all these ideas around Billy, I started to deal with these incidents and ideas.
I then found characters who would embody these different kinds of guilt and linked them (using "spokes") to the situations that could become action points for the story. The result was a population of diverse community members – from a fisherman to a retiree couple to a sheriff and teenage girl desperate for love and affection. I thought: Who could accuse Billy of theft and why? What circumstances could I create to make him look guilty?
All of these ideas became spokes related to the various ideas on the page. For example, I had a drunken motel owner who was bitter about his divorce and was looking for trouble. He blamed Billy for his motel fire (which he himself detonates, hoping to collect insurance money so he will not go down with his motel repairs and child support payments).
Focus on the topic in your mind map
The key to brainstorming a strong action is to examine the issues you want to highlight in your novel. Your characters embody the themes, and you want one or more characters to take one side of a problem and other characters an opponent side.
For example, if you're writing a novel that investigates the death penalty, think about how you can model that topic and all the different opinions on the subject. Think of the types of signs that could embody each opinion and give them a valid reason for doing so. Ask these "why" questions (See my post explaining how to do that).
Next to each character, make notes on the card you create along with ideas about his background and personal story that contribute to the deep faith he has in the death penalty. Perhaps a character had a friend who was wrongfully accused of murder and was found innocent after years of imprisonment, or even executed. Perhaps another character has had a child murdered, and the killer is now free due to a legal loophole.
I hope you can see how characters should be created and how they adapt organically to the premise and themes of the novel you write. You can either start with the topic in the middle of the map or with a character that you want to embody in relation to the topic.
If you are not sure what your topics are
If your novel is not very thematic or you're not sure yet which topics will pop up (and there's always one or the other topic in each novel, even if it's subtle), put your short premise or pitch in the middle , like this: A man finds a note in a bottle that has been washed up on a beach, causing him to find the love of his life. Okay, that's a simple concept of action. You know that you want to write a romance, so what topics could come through the plot?
Pull the spokes of your premise outward and consider a topic that could lead to the development of the character. Ask these important questions about the basic need and the deepest fear. What is this man afraid of? Maybe he is afraid of love. Why? Because his wife died a few years ago and he does not think he will ever love again. Here's a topic on how to love pain and loss again.
Maybe the woman (love interest) sent this message in a bottle because she wanted to kill herself and tell someone about her pain. What is her pain? Brainstorm that.
Where could she be and what would she do to put a note in a bottle?
You may have many stupid ideas that do not work, but if you do this creative mind-mapping, you will eventually find some good ones. Let your creativity run free and do not censor your ideas. Laugh a few times over the dumb ones and immerse yourself in exploring the really great ideas. A good way to Finding topics is brainstorming,
One last point about characters
Remember that your main character (and hopefully some of your minor characters) must grow and change through the novel. In the end, what you have learned shows your theme. Make sure you generate ideas related to this drawing arc. The spokes that connect to your various characters should contain ideas about how your character changes, why it changes, and what has caused it to change. This is important when dealing with map plots and scenes.
I hope this post inspired you and helped you plan your novel. I've only addressed the subject and the character, but there are many more novel components that you can use for mind mapping.
Have you tried to develop your characters and / or topics using this method? If so, let us know a few ways in which this worked for you, or some ideas that came to mind mapping. Did you see how it helped you to bring together the parts of your story?
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