Some writers come up with a story instantly – beginning to end. Others have one single idea or scene and build from there. I’m definitely the latter and love it that way. My stories are living breathing organisms in my head that constantly change or surprise me while I’m writing them. Even if I think I have it figured out from the beginning, my characters constantly surprise me. During this process, I still need some kind of structure to help me develop my tale.
I find that when I am first brain storming ideas, a traditional outline can be very restrictive. My ideas do not flow laterally and the idea of trying to organize everything by hand, on paper makes me cringe, so when I stumbled on a mind-mapping software called FreeMind (that is actually FREE!) I was intrigued.
It starts with one central idea, then you can branch off in any direction with sub-categories, that can have their own sub-categories and so on. It’s never ending.
Here is a very simple, screen cap: