When you’re writing a novel, there’s a thousand pieces of information you need to keep straight. Mind mapping is the easiest way to do that, without stress.
That’s the biggest benefit of a mind map: you can take in information at a glance. Rather than rereading chapters of prose, you can check your mind map, and you’re good to start writing.
Mind mapping helps you to relax and write your novel
Writing a novel is stressful at every stage:
- When you’re starting your novel you’ll make dozens of decisions. Character names, their appearance and relationships, as well as plotting essentials;
- Once all your characters are on stage, you need to make more decisions. Who wants what, and when? Are Fred’s eyes blue, or brown? If Jennifer’s a doormat, she’s not likely to be able to stand up to a home intruder…
- And on, and on.
Do yourself a favor, and add important information to a mind map. As well as acting as a memory aid, your mind map sparks creative ideas. You can attach notes and images to your maps, too; they’ll help you to develop fresh insights.
Try these tips.
1. Who wants what? Add your characters’ motivations and conflicts to your mind map
Are you a pantser? You’ll love mind mapping. Plotting characters onto mind maps ensures that you won’t write yourself into a corner. You won’t sit staring into space, wondering why your current scene isn’t coming to life.
2. Add major plotting milestones to your mind map
This article discusses a novel’s milestones:
- The setup (at the 25 per cent point of the novel);
- The midpoint, where everything changes, at 50 per cent;
- The OOPS milestone: the kick in the pants. Think of it as a sharp jolt, or the dark moment. It occurs at the 80 per cent point.
- The climax: the BIG scene, in which the hero does battle for what he wants. Alternatively (in mysteries for example), the big reveal — the sleuth unmasks the killer. You should hit this at the 90 per cent point.
Plot these major points out on a mind map. Add the number of words. For example, if you’re writing a 50,000 word novel, your novel’s setup phase ends at 12,500 words. By that stage, you’ve introduced your major characters, as well as the story question.
3. End revision horrors with a mind map
Just as writing your novel has challenges, so has revising it. It’s all too easy to think to yourself: “I must remember that…” and forget it, until you’re ready to publish the novel.
Create a mind map just for revision. Then, create a revision checklist when you’re rereading your novel before you start revising. Add the major elements you need to remember to your mind map.
Mind mapping apps are available for your devices too
If you do an online search you’ll find many mind mapping tools for your computer and devices; some are free.
Of the free mind mapping tools, I like the FreeMind app, because not only is it free, it lets you create huge mind maps. Currently I’m using FreeMind to map out the Eardleys series of Regency romances.
Scrivener users will enjoy Scapple, because you can drag notes right into Scrivener.
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