Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mind-Mapping For Plot and Conflict

Authors can purchase brainstorming programs. I purchased one and never could use it, but the Mind-Mapping site provides information and how to use mind-mapping. In my opinion, a writer can use this techniques without purchasing a program. While a program might give ??, allowing you to get the most out of your brainstorming, I think you can apply it this way.

Use a large piece of poster paper and in the middle put your conflict, situation, character, or anything that will help strengthen your plot. Begin to brainstorm ideas by jotting down possible ways to deepen conflict, add tension, broaden characterization, or confuse a situation.

You’ll find no right or wrong ideas to add to your list. You can use symbols, simple sketches, words or thoughts. If your idea is silly don’t worry about it. Silly ideas can sometime trigger another more practical thought that will add a new plot element to your story. Branch out with sub-topics. Use arrows to connect ideas. Show relations to idea by placing some in boxes, some in circles, some in other shapes – like hearts or stars. The mind-mapping program linked below is for corporate brainstorming, but think how this can work for you.

For example, Jim has been offered a new job in a new city. If he accepts it, how will it affect your plot?

Job Location: So put Jim must move in the center of your paper. Now add thoughts about this:
Would Jim like to move?
Will he be in an area that adds new benefits or opportunities?

Job Requirements:
Will the job bring more money or prestige?
More Responsibility? Link of this: Can Jim handle it.
Responsibility means more job stress: He will be away more? His wife will be more stressed?

Home Life:
Obviously moving affects a whole family. So you begin to ask questions about how the new job will affect his family?
Will his wife be willing to move?
Will she be willing to give up her own job? Life change for her.
Link to this: Her wages will be lost. Will his raise equal the lose?
Will she fulfill the corporate expectations to be a party-giver?
Will she be willing to lose the time she has with Jim because of his added responsibilities?

As you see an idea sprout up that will add to the tension or conflict in your story, put it in a star. If you see something that will show another side of your character, put it in a box. Use these symbols in anyway they will work to help you make the most out of brainstorming.

Here’s the link to this mind-mapping program:

1 comment:

Avily Jerome said...

Thanks Gail- very useful ideas!

I haven't really gotten the hang of the mind mapping thing, but I know my writing would benefit from a little more structure like that!