For more than a decade mind-mapping has been my secret weapon for plotting my stories and structuring my papers and articles.
But, “What is a mind map?” you might ask.
Mind maps were invented by Tony Buzan, an expert on learning and thinking skills, who calls mind-mapping “the Swiss army knife of the brain.” He explains the process in detail in The Mind Map Book (co-authored with his brother Barry Buzan) and on his website.
To do a mind map, you take a blank sheet of paper, turn it around, and write the title of your story in the middle of the page. From there you literally “branch” out, moving clockwise across the page. Buzan recommends using only one keyword per branch, but as you can see from the pictures, I’m not exactly a strict adherent to his method: I scribble anything I deem necessary — and yes, that can be a whole sentence — onto a branch (mind-map rebel, that’s me!).
By creating such a one-page overview, I can see at one glance which themes have to be strengthened, whether the male and female POVs are evenly distributed throughout the story (if that is the desired effect), where the overall story arch needs to be optimized, etc. All this ensures that the story will be tightly plotted.
Once the actual writing begins, the mind map does indeed become a very detailed map that guides me through my story. At each point in the writing process, I know exactly what comes next and where the story needs to go. This is very helpful if, like me, you don’t write your stories in a linear fashion, but jump around and create your story in the manner of a patchwork quilt.
What about you? Are you a plotter or a pantster? And if you are a plotter, do you use a specific method of organizing or brainstorming your story before you start writing?
~Connect with Sandy~
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About The Bride Prize, Sandra's latest release, for which she drew a mind map during the revision process because her editor's feedback had made her cry:
It's 1839, and Lord Eglinton's tournament in Scotland is the most anticipated event of the year: he and some of his noble friends will don medieval armor and joust like knights of old.
Does this mean a revival of true chivalry? Miss Florence Marsh thinks it might.
Or is the tournament mere tomfoolery and the greatest folly of the century? Mr. Robert Beaton thinks it is.
But when Flo and Robbie meet at Eglinton Park, they'll soon learn that a dash of romance can make the greatest differences look rather small and that true love might find you in the most unlikely place.