Making Your Murder Board (or, Creating Fiction Through the Mind Map Method)
With Camp NaNo quickly approaching, I find myself facing the daunting task of writing two novellas without much of an outline in place. I can’t imagine that I’m the only one in a situation like this, so I thought I’d share one of my favorite methods for organising my stories.
In the past, I’ve certainly been the type to write out a full outline with Roman numerals and topic sentences like it’s a fifth-grade book report from the 1980s.
While I can’t deny that this can be incredibly helpful when it comes to writing specific scenes and keeping timelines in place, it’s a bit too technical when it comes to more grand-scheme ideas that get the plot rolling in the first place. I don’t know about you, but I like to visualise my stories on a large scale before I start getting down and dirty with the details.
Enter the mind map.
I personally like to refer to this as my Murder Board, as it makes me feel like I’m on Criminal Minds and trying to solve the case by connecting all of the little red strings and thumbtacks. It can get pretty involved and can look damn scary depending on how many details you include, but I absolutely swear by it.
This strategy was recommended to me by a friend, and I can’t offer enough praise for it and how much it’s helped me to get my stories on track. If there are any of you out there still struggling with how to string your plot bunnies together in time for writing to start on July 1st, I definitely recommend taking some time to put one of these together.
I’ve illustrated my preferred method below using Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as an example. As a quick disclaimer, I’m the type of writer that puts a lot of emphasis on character. As such, this method is specific to character and relies heavily on the primary protagonist’s perspective— if your story isn’t particularly character-driven, this exact method may not work for you. I still strongly advise giving it a shot, as you never know what sort of details will be uncovered as you work on putting together a map.
With that in mind, let’s begin! (I apologise in advance for the quality of the photos— my camera isn’t the best)
Can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that K.A. Applegate might be the only sci-fi writer EVER who both (a) condemns the mass killing of aliens even if they are attacking the earth AND (b) shows why it’s sort of necessary in the situation?
It seems like too many other sci-fi stories go the route of Avengers or Doctor Who (S1) or Independence Day where a protagonist wiping out thousands of aliens is portrayed as uncomplicated heroism and we all celebrate at the end. Either that or they go the route of Avatar the Last Airbender (S3) or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (S5) where the characters that don’t want to engage in violence don’t have to get their hands dirty because a deus ex machina comes along and prevents that from having to happen. In both cases doing the right thing is also a matter of doing the easy thing.
Applegate, by contrast, doesn’t let her characters get away with an uncomplicated happy ending. She doesn’t say “they were aliens so it’s okay to kill them,” and she doesn’t offer them a third way out of their impossible choice. She gets into the hell that is war and doesn’t use the sci-fi genre to let her gloss over the dirty details.
Imagine Tom tying you to the corners of your four-poster bed. Just being in this position arouses you - you’ve spent many nights just like this, giving yourself over to his every whim. Tonight, though, he just stands at the foot of the bed, staring at your body. He takes his time telling you everything he wants to do to you, describing every dirty detail until you’re squirming with desire. He wants to hear you beg.
“What should I do? Should I write a letter to the advice column? Dear Rita Skeeter, my boyfriend is leaking all the dirty details of our secret relationship to the press. Should I hex him into oblivion? With love and anticipation, Desperate Harpy”.
but how did the even and isak conversation go? were they sitting on their couch, or eating dinner there, and Isak’s feet were laying in Even’s lap as he picked at his food. And Even clearly picks up on his mood and nudges him by squeezing his foot, everything alright? And Isak will shrug and be like yeah of course. But clearly we know that Even can always spot Isak’s bullshit from a mile away, so Even just does his soft Isak. And that just kind of- Isak slumps and puts the mostly uneaten food away and climbs up closer, maybe into Even’s lap, for the conversation. Do you trust me? and Even blinks because?? what the fuck of course he trusts him. more than anyone else in the world? So Even tells him this and Isak nods, i want to know who Mikael is. And once again what the fuck, how did he come in to the conversation?
So Even just kind of tries to keep from completely freezing up and Isak bites at his lip until Even clan unlock his voice enough to say, how did you-? and Isak will shrug, sana knows him, apparently. i saw pictures but she won’t tell me anything. But then Isak might get the defensive tone of voice when he’s frustrated- you know the one where he begins to talk really fast? i just want to know you Even. Like you know me. Every dirty detail, and I thought I did, but I’m beginning to think that there is this whole history that you have and i’m in the dark-
I need time. Even will swallow, but bring a hand to slowly drag through Isak’s curls. He doesn’t know who he’s trying to comfort. I will tell you. I just need time. And Isak will shut his eyes, but nod quietly and lay his head down on Even’s shoulder
a smutty RaphxChubby!Reader who’s wearing lingerie for the first time, please?
I don’t own TMNT, and you belong to you <3
“C’mon! You should at least try it on!”
Going to Victoria’s Secret with your
best friend on a Saturday morning wasn’t what you had in mind. Especially since
she basically pushed you into a changing room with arms full of lacy and
scandalous pieces that you wouldn’t think of trying on. Eyeing the skinny shop
assistants, you looked at your best friend through the curtains with a bright
“Dude, I can’t do this! He never even
asked!” Although she didn’t know the turtles, she knew of one’s name: Raphael,
your long-term boyfriend. Although bitter that she’d never met him since you’d
gotten together a year ago, she was happy for you, and happy you were finally getting some action. And because
of that reason, she’d do anything to hear the dirty details of your late night
rendezvous. She was your best friend after all.
Laughing as my friend downed her jaeger shot, I let my eyes
scan the smoky bar in hopes of a fine piece of good entertainment. Grabbing
Y/F/N’s arm as she stumbled, I stood her up right, all while keeping my eyes
roaming. Coming to whatever nearest bar to the crappy rundown motel in whatever
weird town we happened to find ourselves in had become routine for the two of
us. Like clockwork.
But then again, I didn’t mind. It was a nice piece of
normalcy in our otherwise crazy lives. Being a hunter had its cons, but besides
the almost dying on a daily, the constant looking over your shoulder, taking on
demons, vampires, shape-shifters, ghouls and ghosts, and never having a home… it
was not as bad as some people made it seem.