Mapping a Twisted Mind

I’ve never been of a planner when it comes to my writing. I write by the seat of my pants; I know the beginning of the story, a few key plot events in the middle, and the end. The rest is a vista of possibility.

Recently I heard a discussion about mindmapping. Ordinarily I’m very much a skeptic when it comes to stuff like this, but I thought I’d give it a shot because I hate saying something doesn’t work for me if I haven’t tried it. Being the frugal (cheap) person that I am, I naturally looked for free software. I found one, Compendium, that had some neat examples, so I jumped through the free download hoops and opened that baby up.

Holy. Freaking. Crap. It was much like trying to learn PhotoShop your first day ever on a computer.

Back to the drawing board…or in this case, search engine. I stumbled upon, a free web-based mindmapping software. I signed up for an account and went to town. It’s simple, it’s accessible from anywhere you have access to a computer, and it does the job just fine without getting too fancy. This is a writing tool, remember, not a luxury vehicle.

An amazing thing happened once I did some mapping on my first novel, which I’m revising. For the first time I had a clear picture of the major forces driving the plot, and their motivations. What was even more amazing is how each force drove the plot in the ways necessary to validate the other forces’ motivations (damn, I’m better at this writing thing than I’d thought!). Everything meshed nicely, but until I saw it illustrated I hadn’t really understood just how well it meshed even though I’m the author.

Here’s the mindmap I did for the motives of my characters in The Wyckham House.


Red Bubble: The event that serves as a catalyst for all the plot-driving forces

Gold Bubbles: The different plot-driving forces

Pink Bubbles: The motives of each plot-driving force

Grey arrows: Show the connection between each of the plot-driving forces


One thing is certain: before I begin the next novel, I’m going to mindmap first. Nobody die of shock, please.


9 thoughts on “Mapping a Twisted Mind

    1. Sio says:

      You’re very welcome! I’m a die-hard pantser and I’m gonna do this with every book! No NaNoWriMo for me this year; one more year of college and then I’m free. NaNoWriMo 2010!!

  1. Karla says:

    Darnit Sharon, you’re going to make me research this mindmapping thing. I only heard about it for the first time two weeks ago. The concept made my head hurt but I’m going to look into it now. Darn you woman!

    1. Sio says:

      hahahahahahahaha! I was a skeptic and thought “I don’t have time to do this!” But it didn’t take much time at all and it was worth it in the end. Honest. 😉

  2. Lee Jackson says:

    I ran across your comment on Rachel Gardner’s blog and was intrigued enough to check out yours. This post particularly caught my eye since it was related to a blog topic I posted yesterday. You touched upon some of the very questions I was posing. I hope I find more input on this topic because it’s always interesting to see how others approach the same things I am wondering about. I will keep the mind-mapping concept as a possibility for the future. I’m still trying to decide about the NaNoWriMo deal for this year. I take it you’ve done it in the past? How did it work out for you?

    1. Sio says:

      Lee, I’ve not done NaNoWriMo yet–I’ve been in college as well as working full time for the last three years, so there just isn’t time to fit it in. I may try it next year (I’ll be done in June), but not sure…I have several projects already int he works, but one I may hold off on beginning until next November.

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