Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mind Maps or Why I am Not a Pantser

A Mind Map of my Work in Progress. 
I've discovered (the hard way) that unless I have a solid plot my book ideas fizzle. I am not a pantser. I recently got a program called Freemind that is "mind map" software. You start with a central idea, and keep clicking to create new "bubbles" or trains of thought, writing down a bit to capture the idea and then moving to the next point. I'm not an "outliney" kind of person either, so making one never worked for me. But for some reason, this program helps me capture my racing thoughts fast enough that I can get them down before they're gone. When I get an idea it springs whole into my head and I can't put it on paper fast enough. 


Click either image in this post to see them in a larger size.

My character Alitus Vivaldi started as a walk on part because I needed someone to deliver a bit of news to the Empress in her big scene. I kept calling him "her assistant" and after about six times, I realized I needed to name him. The moment I had his name I had all of him. His backstory, his life, his goals, everything. He ended up getting his own book and being a major player in my overall series of trilogies that link together. When things like that happen, it's hard to record it all. This program has been a real blessing to me. Five years ago I might not have been ready for it, but now, I can't imagine how I'd get through a plot without it. It's literally saved me hundreds of frustrating hours of work. My current wip is in its sixth rewrite, and I think this will be its last because of the program. It's Java based, and it's produced by Sourceforge, which made Audacity. 
One leg of the above mind map.

I used Freemind to come up with ideas for a non-fiction book I'm doing on how to write dialogue. Once I saw the possibilities, I started a mind map for my wip and within days, had mapped out the entire thing, solving my dilemma over the ending and plot problems. My editor had sent me some good info which helped, and between the two, it made a big difference. I attached a print of the dialogue thing, showing just one leg of the basic "topic" mind map. When you open the whole thing, it's so huge you have to move it around the screen to see it all. I'm doing one for each aspect of the book, and then will work on putting down the details. This program exports as jpg, png, flash, html, java, pdf, open office, and more. I can export it as open office, then save it as rtf, and open it in Word as an outline. I'm amazed that I can write this way. I'd never have thought of doing it but came across the idea in a book I was reading and decided to Google mind map software and see what I could find. This one was free so I figured what the heck. I'll give it a go. I'm quite visual -- I'm stimulated by visual images and inspired by pictures, so this turns out to be ideal for me.

Once I start with a solid idea of where I'm going, and a purpose to accomplish, the random ideas seem to flow better. A mind map seems to be just what I need.

Want to try the product? Go here to download it. Let me know what you think! http://freemind.sourceforge.net

12 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Kayelle! I'm looking at a contracted WIP that I'm halfway through, and other than the black moment, I'm not at all sure what I'll write to fill up the other 40,000 words. Eek!

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    1. I know the feeling. ^_^ Good luck with this. I hope you're able to find some answers.

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  2. I love mind mapping. I store my characters, places, and plot points in it.

    I am interested in the little people icons. I don't remember seeing them in my version. What are they for?

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  3. Hi, Beth. The people could represent workers who are taking part in a process you're mapping, or they could be characters. I'm looking for a way to add some icons. Haven't figured it out yet.

    In the mind map I showed, they represent four major characters in the story I had a section that got a bit convoluted and was trying to figure out how to make it clearer who was doing what. I finally decided to try the people icons. In Freemind, they're on the far left side of the page, in a skinny column.

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    1. Thanks. I'll look into them. I've used the priorities but don't remember the people...then again, I didn't play too much just made my nodes.

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    2. I click on everything. Gets me into trouble sometimes. o_O There are things on a pc that you really shouldn't mess with if you don't know what they do. I've discovered that the hard way too. Matter of fact, I learn an awful lot that way. LOL

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  4. Interesting. I might just give this a whirl. Thanks

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Greta. Let me know what you think!

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  5. I'm not a panster either. I wing through an initial scene with too much backstory, then use that to write a synopsis I follow. I had a mind mapping software years ago but it was for a pc I no longer have. Hmmm, might look around.

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    1. Freemind is pretty good. If you bought yours, you might still have the disc or license info and can reinstall it. Good luck with it, Melisse. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. Same here! I’m more of a plotter, which helps me understand more of the structure of the story I want to write. I use mind-mapping software to give me an unlimited canvas to play with. When I use it, my thoughts do not get interrupted because it has a clear and compact way of laying out my ideas. By the way, how’s your book writing going?

    Alexandra Gale

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    1. I decided to take the plot in a different direction, and this software helped with that. I also added Dramatica, which I'll def blog about. Some good info there for those of us who like to plan.

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