I’ve Got An Idea…

(Yay! I finally get to reference a Swirling Eddies song!)

Me again.  I wanted to take a minute to introduce a piece of freeware I’ve started using to help plot out my stories. It’s called Freemind (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page) and it’s mind-mapping software.

I know. It sounds like something a psychiatrist would recommend, and while there are those who are nodding their heads, silently saying “Yep. I knew it. He’s a basket-case” — it’s not like that. It’s just software to help you brainstorm, and then organize those thoughts into something coherent.

It’s outlining on steroids.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an example. Obviously, I’m not going to use my own story so I don’t give anything away to people waiting for the next book, so let’s fall back on the popular example: Shakespeare. And for chuckles, I’ll use one of my favorite plays, Much Ado About Nothing.

Just for the purposes of illustration, we’ll focus on the settings of each Act and Scene, rather than the storyline, since that’s a bit time consuming. In Freemind, you simply create a new Mindmap, and then name the “New Mindmap” icon for your main idea/story title.

Add a “Child Node” for the first scene/act by pressing the INSERT key and name that.

While the “Child Node” is highlighted, pressing INSERT again adds a “Sibling Node” for the first item of action (or in this case, the location of Scene 1).


When you’re finished with one act/scene, click back on the main idea and press INSERT again to add another “Child Node.”


Continue this until you’ve gotten all of your ideas out.


You can drag ideas from one node to another or rearrange them within the story structure.

Once you’re completely happy with it, you can save it as an image, HTML file, or — this is my favorite part — you can export it as an Open Office Document.

Why is that my favorite part? Well, when you open that document in OpenOffice or Word, this is what you get:


That’s right. It’s an OUTLINE. You can copy and paste that outline into Scrivener and then use it to write your story.

This software is totally awesome, totally free, and I highly recommend you give it a try.

Until next time…

1 Comment

Filed under Notes from the Author

One response to “I’ve Got An Idea…

  1. And one of my fav Swirling Eddies songs too. 🙂

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