By: Delia Brendan
Years ago, I went to a plotting workshop. The workshop leader described a process involving white poster board and multi-colored sticky notes. She described how each sticky note color corresponded to various plot elements. At the end of the exercise, she showed the group a completed plot map and explained how this process could help you from getting bogged down during drafting.
As a visual person, I loved the concept of working from a map. So, I dutifully went out and bought white poster board and enough sticky notes to outfit a corporation. As an organizationally-challenged over thinker, I was soon mired down in details. Was Dr. Venom’s mother from Siberia a blue sticky note because she was related to a bad guy or a green sticky note because she befriends the heroine? No surprise, I never wound up with a plot map and I’m still pulling sticky notes out of sock drawers and couch cushions.
If I could get my information organized in virtual notebooks, was a free tool that would help me organize my plot too much to hope for?
It turns out it’s not. Now, when I say “mind mapping,” I need you to take a deep breath. It’s a terrible name as it conjures images of being strapped in a chair as electrodes are attached to your temples. It’s not something that one might think would help creativity, but it is invaluable.
“Mind mapping” is not new. It’s just a description of how to organize your thoughts. In terms of the software, a map is nothing more than that huge piece of white poster board we lugged home from the office supply store. Topics and subtopics are the sticky notes.
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