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)