Writing Killer Weed Using Mind Mapping

June has arrived and with it Audiobook month! I enjoyed audiobooks on my recent road trip through the llano Estacado, including Palo Duro Canyon, and Cadillac Ranch. I’ve recently added audio to each of the stories in the Bullet Books Speed Reads. If you’re an audio book lover, too, check them out on Amazon.

When I meet people on my travels and at writing events, I’m often asked about my writing process. Maybe you’d also like to know about some of my habits, as I’m back in Austin now and doing the last edits on Killer Weed. In my experience as a writer, finding effective ways to organize thoughts and plot a story is crucial.

One powerful technique I’ve embraced is Mind Mapping. This visual tool not only helps in brainstorming ideas but also becomes a cheat sheet for writing my stories.

If you’ve never been exposed to mind mapping, it is a diagrammatic method used to visually organize information. It starts with a central idea and branches out into related concepts, making it easier to see the connections between elements. My mind maps are rudimentary, consisting of using colored pens on a file folder, so that it’s portable in the event that I’m writing in the coffee shop or library. However, there are courses on mind mapping and software systems that allow for diagramming very complex visuals for businesses and entrepreneurs.

I start my mind map with the name of the book, then divide the board into three parts for Acts I, II, and III. Next, I draw a large circle in the middle and put the main character, in this case, Merit Bridges, and use overlapping circles for the secondary characters around her. For example, Betty, her office manager; Ace, her son; Ag, her investigator; and Val, her law clerk. I draw a large circle for the villain, in this case, Raiden Prince, and expand the information about him around his circle and tie it back to the rest of the story with connecting lines.

When I get the basic mind map set up, I switch over to outlining in Scrivener, my writing software, using the mind map as a guide. Although the map becomes less useful as I expand the story from the outline on my MacBook, I keep the mind map on my desk as a touchstone.

It gives me a sense of security to know I have the whole story on one board. In addition, when I forget a minor character’s name or exactly where they enter the plot, I have a quick reference without having to dig back through my outline, story bible, or manuscript.

To illustrate the power of mind mapping, here’s an example from my latest work-in-progress, Killer Weed. I’ve hidden a bit of Act II, and most of Act III with sticky notes so that I don’t give away the surprise ending!

As you can see, mind mapping is an invaluable tool for me as a novelist, making the complex process of novel writing more manageable and enjoyable. Whether I’m plotting a Merit Bridges Thriller such as Killer Weed, or one of the Proxy Thrillers, mind mapping helps me bring my creative vision to reality.

Happy Reading,

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“Manning Wolfe is a modern-day author not to be missed. Her page-turners keep me up all night!”

An award-winning author and attorney, writes cinematic-style, smart, fast-paced thrillers and crime fiction. 

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