Tech Tuesday: Mind-Map Your Characters to Life

So you’ve decided to write a manuscript but you’re a little stuck. Maybe you have an idea and a main character but you can’t figure out all the little details about your hero or heroine. Mind-mapping can help.

If you haven’t head of mind mapping, it’s a way of thinking about a topic or idea by spinning ideas off the main concept. Instead of writing your ideas down in bullet points or paragraphs, you would draw a diagram. The initial idea appears in the first circle (or square or triangle or whatever floats your boat) and you’d draw lines to other circles for the new ideas that originate from the first. The diagram often is called a spider diagram because the simplest designs look like a round spider body with stick legs coming off of it.

Mind-mapping can be used to brainstorm any subject but it can be particularly good for writers trying to generate ideas. You get to move in a deliberate stream of consciousness way through ideas that you can later accept or reject hitting upon key words or phrases that can help you develop complex characters with believable traits. Here are a few mind mapping tools you can explore:

Pen and paper: Yes, pen and paper still count as technology, guys. It’s quick, efficient, and easily accessible. It takes less time to grab a pen and pad than it does to boot up the average laptop and, when working with a group, those large pads that stick on the wall or old-fashioned flip charts do the trick. Ask anyone who’s hosted a corporate brainstorming session at a hotel conference room and they’ll tell you these are key tools of the trade, even today. But, if you’re hooked on your iPad or laptop here are a few great high-tech options.

Popplet: Popplet seems to have become popular with the education crowd but there’s a corporate version as well. The app is available for the web and also is available for iPad. Sorry Android users, I didn’t see an app for you, but I’m sure it’s in the works.

MindMeister: MindMeister is a pretty popular tool as well. I have used it and like it quite a bit. It has lots of templates you can use as a starting point but you also can start from scratch to create something cool. It is also available on iPad and Android.

XMind: XMind is another mind-mapping tool you can consider. One cool thing about XMind is it’s available for Mac, PC, Linux, and has a portable package. That makes it easier for you to use XMind on whatever OS is available to you.

I’ve suggested using mind-maps for character development, but if you get stuck on any aspect of your story you can use a mind map to help you get out of that hole. Grab one of the tools above and get to work.

Peace,
Michele

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