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Outlines vs. MindMapping

I was asked yesterday if I outlined my stories, and no, I really don't. However I do use the mind-mapping tools extensively.

(Within Me the Other bleeds -- map using FreeMind format)

On my laptop I use Freemind, as well as Mindjet MindManager Pro. On my iPad I am currently using MindMeister, because it was the best one I have found so far.

When I say “best” however, this is a very subjective recommendation.There are some mind-mapping programs out there which are very well made, and easy to use, but I don't like them. Can't really tell you why, but it has something to do with noticing them... I want to focus on my projects and ideas, not the mind-mapping program.

The Mind-maps at first site, look like a variety of outline, or todo-listing, but they really aren't. Mind-maps are tools for the collection and organization of creative thoughts, ideas, purposes and requirements, in a visual layout which if done right, will spark new ideas as well as to capture the essence of the listed ideas.

A novel, or even a novella is quite a large piece of work. I don't know of anyone that sits down and writes either of these in one sitting. Moods and POV's are very important in both of these works as well. Maintaining the internal mood and landscape of a large work over the period of weeks or months, is something that mind-mapping is a very good tool for.

Mind-mapping keeps track of, not only ideas, but references for those ideas. Linking to websites, book quotes, listings, even musical files and images.

To me, outlines are fairly useless, but when you are looking at the mind-map I have posted here as an example, you might feel like the “Sections” area is an outline. Look closer and you will see that what is listed are merely my ideas for what a section should achieve, but not a given order or even directions as to what character should achieve these goals.

My favorite area on this map, is the areas that cover the question “What bleeds?”. To me this portion is a listing of the action, the attention, the body in the corner, the threat coming down from the night sky, the thing that is staggering ... etc. I point this particular area out, to let you in on the secret that these are not listed before writing. This node is to remind me that “something should be scarry, so, what is bleeding.?” so that I am actually listing these after I have added them to the story, not before.

If you are attempting to work with projects which combined disparate knowledge, ideas, and goals, Mind-mapping is a great tool to use.

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