Friday, 11 January 2008

Mind-mapping your fiction

Have you ever tried mind mapping your ideas for fiction? It’s not how I usually approach work, but occasionally it is very useful, producing fascinating stuff. Maybe I ought to do this more often before I start.

Yesterday the next character to be looked at closely for the novel kept popping into my head and knocking. He’s been doing this for a while, and details about him are appearing very slowly. Nothing is written yet as a result. I don’t want to grab too early and miss important stuff that with time would have rounded him, made the piece far better, themes more resonant.

So last night I tried mind mapping.

Simple really… try it.

Blank sheet of paper. Character’s name in the centre. And from the name make a series of ‘rays’, to include everything you know about him so far. You’ll find some will either link or fall into categories.

Example… my character, an adult, can’t read. This fleshes out in the mind map to refusal to go into library and refusal to listen to stories. Bullying appears and I add it to the map. He can’t bear bullying as he was bullied himself. Minor characters swim up from nowhere… a bullying incident years ago…I add them in. But this guy is a natural poet in his head. The things he chooses to see and do will be said in a particular voice. He sings. He’s a miner. He learned poetry from hymns then started his own. But he has told no one, as he fears ridicule.

Within minutes I have many more connections and possibilities than I did before, things that appeared ‘randomly. But which I was able to put into some coherent order…and story is already richer for it.

Give it a go.


Charles Lambert said...

The novel I'm working on at the moment has a main cast of six (one parent and five children). I've been keeping notes on them in linear fashion, and after the event (i.e. I discover them by writing about them), but your suggestion strikes me as a great idea to delve a little deeper. I'll give it a go! Thanks.

TitaniaWrites said...

Great idea, V - I might try this for the screenplay idea I have been toying with for years. I don't really know my main character at all, she's a vague outline right now, thanks for the inspiration. Will let you know if it works!


Vanessa G said...

Hi Charles

I think its the same creative process at work, allowing connections to happen as you create the 'map'... it ends up looking like a mad spider has walked through an inkwell!

good luck.

let me know how it goes.


Vanessa G said...

Hello T... sounds like yours might need the thematic stuff putting at the centre, with rays for all the illustrations of that theme? then your character is just one force among many, and can feed off the rest in the map?

try it!

Sara said...

That sounds like something I should try with the DREADED novel. I fear though that I'll end up with the name, say Frank, with just one arrow saying 'bloke, dies'!!!

Vanessa G said...

Hmm. Sounds like the ultimate in reader involvement?

good luck Sara!