As you can tell from the design of this course, I'm all about doodling, as many writers are. In fact, I spend a good portion of my writing day doodling. But it's doodling with a purpose, what others call mind-mapping and I call spider drawings. It's doodling as a brainstorming tool. Brainstorming, of course, is any activitiy (tossing things around with a friend, say, or in this case mind-mapping) that aims to generate ideas.
Here’s an example of a spider drawing that maps out that middle school novel I wrote called Iggy’s World:
You can see why I call this method of brainstorming a “spider drawing.” And it's a highly effective way of generating ideas. In fact, once you get the hang of it, you can map out a whole story or even a whole novel in an afternoon. Try it out! We'll be using mind-mapping throughout this course.
This exercise is two-fold: mind-map your project and then write a couple of paragraphs on what you come up with.
You're welcome to do your spider drawing in your journal. I do small spider drawings or mind-mapping in my project journals all the time. But I suggest you use the biggest blank piece of paper you can find for this exercise. Allow your imagination room to do its thing! And coloured pencils really help. You can use different colours for different story elements.
Now, take all that research, interview and experience from this unit's exercises and brainstorm on how it all comes together for your project. Start by drawing a circle in the middle, with, say, your character's name jotted there, as I did with Iggy above. Who would be the best character to tell this story? What point of view should you use? What is the protagonist like? Who are their friends or family? What’s the best situation to throw them into, as you explore the subject you've chosen? Are they entering an art or sporting competition? Getting their first job? Going on a trip alone? What's the setting? A new school? On vacation in another country? Another planet? What does the protagonist want? What's stopping that character from reaching their goals? What do you think happens in the story? We’ll look deeper into these questions in the following units. But for now, just let your imagination go crazy and see what ends up on the mind-map.
Now write a couple of paragraphs of about 500 words total in your journal about what new ideas you came up with for your project as you brainstormed.
Are you signed up for the mentor-directed course? Take a photo of your mindmap and post both it and your assignment as an attatchment on your private board on Gail's teaching forum ('Gail's classroom') on your scheduled submission date.
But don't stop there! If your brainstorming inspired you to write a scene for your project, go for it!
What to know more? Check out How to Mind Map a Novel.