I stumbled across Mind Maps when I did a creative writing course years ago. It was at a time where the first stirrings of my itchy fingers started, when I wanted to pick up pen and paper and start writing.
I can't remember much of the course other than the teacher bringing in weird and wonderful objects each week and asking us to write a short story about them. Stories I recently re-read when I stumbled across the folder from the course, stories I'm sure won't ever see the light of day!
An interesting aside caught my attention as I flicked through this folder.
I'd done one for each story, done one for my current release TWO WEEKS IN THE MAGNATE'S BED (though I didn't know it at the time!)
Stupidly, I threw them all out, otherwise I could've scanned one for you to see here. And the mind map I created in Word last night especially for this blog won't upload (so if anyone wants a copy of it, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll forward it to you.) I'll try and describe it for you now.
Mind mapping is basically concept planning.
You take a central theme and collect ideas in different categories around it.
I guess you can say it's a diagramatic form of brainstorming.
Possible elements of a story map include:
Uses of theme
Useful catch phrases/symbology/etc...
To create your own mind map, go into Word, click on 'Insert', then 'Diagram', then choose 'Radial Diagram'.
You'll end up with a central circle and loads of circles branching off from this like tentacles.
Then you can start having fun!
With the book I'm currently plotting, I had the heroine's job as the central theme because it's highly unusual. From there, my branches included: brief emotional descriptions of hero and heroine, secondary characters, setting, time period. Basically, you can include anything!
I used colourful crayons too, just for something different and it was strangely liberating.
So get those minds mapping.
You never know what gem of an idea may pop up.