Brilliant ideas and innovative concepts are born everyday, at lightning speed, and usually, when someone least expects them to. This is ever the case for creative writers—when rich plots, remarkably unique characters, and award-winning narratives are seemingly pulled out of thin air, or, as they say, whenever inspiration hits. It seems such a huge waste whenever these very same ideas become lost in a sea of confusion, jumbled together with other equally brilliant thoughts, words, and phrases, and eventually fall into obscurity due to lack of organisation. One way to avoid these instances for good is to use mind mapping techniques for creating outlines and ‘skeletal structures’ for characters and narratives.
Does it sound complicated? That last sentence may have been a mouthful to read, and may seem too technical to pair with something as artful as creative writing, but
Here are some mind mapping techniques that you can use:
Mapping Out a Story Outline
One thing that causes so much frustration when it comes to writing stories is getting stuck in a rut when you’re already in the middle of getting things started with your plot. We all know the drill: establish the background, present the characters, introduce the conflict, narrate the journey and of course, show the resolution. But more often than not, we get to a point where things start to get interesting—and then we forget what happens next, or we get so conflicted with several options on how to proceed with the story.
One way to eliminate this problem is to create a mind map of the entire storyline—a visual summary of the entire piece, from beginning to end. This is great for short stories and one-shot narratives—you can choose to put in your working title, or a choice keyword that represents the main theme of your work. After that, you can branch out to the different parts of the story: the characters, the conflict, how everyone reacts to it and acts because of it, and of course, how to the whole thing ends. You can go through each subcategory and create more subtopics under them, going as deep and as detailed as you need to complete the story. Before you know it, you have completed the summary of your next best-seller in a comprehensive reference, that you can use as a guide for when you sit down and write it.
Character Build Up
Another way to make sure that all characters in a story are given texture, significance, and dimension is to create a mind map for each and every one of them. This is ideal for character-driven narratives and writing feature composition about a particular person, or even full-length biographies.
One straightforward way to map a character out is to place him or her at the centre of the diagram, then branch out to the different aspects of his or her life—the facets that make a person who he or she was, is, and will be. These subtopics may include history, important, life-changing events, and so on. These can branch out into more detailed and intricate information, until the mind map completely shapes out the character and brings it to life.
Some writers love interweaving several stories around a central theme—love, tragedy, family, children, death, and so on. Such writers will benefit greatly from using mind mapping techniques that keep them focused on the main motif of their work, and help ensure that not one character’s sub story is neither neglected, nor saturated compared to the others’. You can be as simple as you want with your plot, or create an intricate and extraordinarily complex world that will soon translate itself into a literary work of art.