If the idea of a traditional outline seems intimidating, a mind map might just be the right solution for you. Mind Maps are great for brainstorming ideas, keeping organized, and can help you make progress in writing your book.
You can either create your mind map on paper or you can use mind mapping software. I am a big fan of MindMaple mind mapping software – and the free lite version works just fine for most beginners.
How to Start
Begin with creating a central topic in the center. This would generally be the working title of your story.
Next, start creating sub-topics. You can organize sub-topics any way that works best for you. For example, you may have a sub-topic for characters, and then a sub-topic for each character, and go even further with sub-topics for describing your character’s personality and traits.
Do the same thing for plot, setting, themes, and any miscellaneous ideas you might have during the process.
Tips for Working With Mind Maps for Writing a Novel
1. Use Colors: Making your mind map colorful will keep it more exciting and interesting. You can use any color scheme you’d like.
2. Add Images: Most software programs allow you to insert images or you can doodle some of your own if working on paper.
3. Determine How Detailed it Needs to Be: Some people suggest only writing a few words per line, while others may write full blown characterization summaries. It’s entirely up to you how much information your mind map contains.
4. Remember Practice Makes Perfect: Just like any new skill, practice will help you become better at making mind maps. Try to make it a regular practice for anytime you get an idea for a story idea.
5. Try Both Types of Mind Maps: Some people prefer making them on the computer, while others enjoy drawing and coloring them out. Try them both to see what you like best. If making on paper, using colored pencils or pens can really help stimulate the creative side of your brain.
6. Think of it as a Free Write: Mind mapping needs no planning or special skills. Don’t dismiss any ideas you think of while creating your mind map and make a place for it on the map. Try to work quickly, as this will help with making associations.
Have any other tips for how to mind map a novel? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!