Friday, 23 September 2016

Plots, Mind maps, Mayhem...

You want to write a book, you've got the outline of a story or a character in your head but... where to start?
May I suggest a Mind Map?

Pioneered by Tony Buzan of Use Your Head fame in the 1970s, the mind map quickly won over converts not just among the business community but for anyone facing a project whether it was making jam, restoring furniture or, indeed, writing a novel.

The great advantage of a mind map is that it allows you to get your arms around an entire subject on one piece of (very large) paper. The result shows your project in a format that is truly at-a-glance. So for both of my books, it's been the first step on the way. It allows me to sketch out the action, specify the characters and then - crucially - show the links between them. And that's key: we may have appealing characters or plot lines but we struggle to link them together into a coherent whole.

I often revisit my mind map after the book is finished, and it's interesting to compare the original concept with the final product.
There are casualties!
Some action - even some characters - just never survive on the page, and others arrive unexpectedly as the story develops. But the basic framework is still there, and the linkages survive. I guess I could draw the mind map on my laptop, but a physical, paper version is so much easier to use. I have the latest one on the wall above my desk so, as I write, I can look up and see where I'm going. And while the final destination may not be entirely settled, my map makes the journey clearer. And, oddly, it frees me up to be more adventurous:
If I stretch that character beyond the boundaries I've set, what might happen?
Maybe some delicious, unstructured mayhem...

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