What’s a Mind Map?

One of my favorite ways to brainstorm a story or a character is Mind Mapping. I actually learned this method in elementary school. To prove that we’d read a book, we had to map out the main characters and ideas in a cloud-like structure for the teacher to check over. This works just as well (if not better) in reverse.

Where do I go from here?

Start with a character or a plot point. Write it in the middle of the page and put a box around it. Now draw a line from that central box and write something related to it. For example, I started with our central character, Sandy. From there I drew a line connected to another box “Loves Food”, which took me to “Loves to Cook” and then “Wants to go to culinary school”.

So it ended up like this:

Sandy–loves food–loves to cook–wants to go to culinary school

And voila, I have a driving action for my character.

Anything Else?

Keep in mind that the Mind Map is just a brainstorming tool. It helps you to get all your ideas down on paper and out of your head. You don’t have to stick to it or use all of it. So write everything down. Give yourself options.

Mind Map

And here’s the story

“Oh come on,” Robert says, “It can’t be that bad.”

I want to respond, but my eyes are welling up with tears. I stick my tongue out, trying to cool it down, and get up from the table.

“Sandy,” he says, putting out a hand. But he’s not trying to comfort me. He’s glancing around nervously at the other diners, willing me back into my seat with his eyes.

I open my mouth to speak, but I don’t get past the first letter of his name before the waterworks start. I turn and make a mad dash for the bathroom, desperate not to break down in front of all these people. Heads turn as I rush to the back of the restaurant, and I am followed by a wave of murmurs. Finally, the door to the bathroom. I run headlong into it and slam past the beige marbled counter with its scented tampons and smooth hand creams and into the nearest stall. I close and lock the door, leaning my forearm against it, resting my face on my arm. My tears don’t come in pretty streams from my brown eyes, like in the movies. The movies are bullshit. My tears come in snotty-nosed spurts like an allergy attack. Goddamn Rob doesn’t understand anything. I look down at my hand at the engagement ring he’d just given me three weeks ago and I remove it from my finger.