Mystery Plots: On Paper? Or Software?

This entry is part of a series, Mystery Plotting»

In this stream of posts on Mystery Plotting (and elsewhere) I’ve mentioned using large paper strips as part of the plot building process. While that’s nice, it can get to be Very Messy. And once you have a paper plot in hand, it’s often not that convenient to use.

Besides that, what if your witch’s familiar pet cat helps you out by spilling your morning coffee all over the papers, just as you were about to complete the plot line? (No, turning the cat into slippers won’t solve that problem, though it is personally satisfying and does help keep your tootsies warm during NaNoWriMo.) Note: Attempting to avoid the spilled coffee by never finishing the plot paper doesn’t help; Murphy doesn’t like it when you try to manipulate him that way.

There are ways to do all the things I’ve talked about electronically. On the premise that free is the best price, where starving artists are concerned, I’d like to draw your attention to a set of tools for concept mapping: Cmap Tools. Easy to build and use, concept maps (and their close cousin, mind maps) provide a nice pictorial interpretation of what you understand about a concept or related concepts.

Frankly, they’re a universal tool that adapts nicely to the needs of a story builder. The can show interrelationships, time progression and more. You can color code, mark and annotate to your heart’s content. You can brainstorm, refine, deepen, and yes, erase. Perfect!

There’s only one cost, hardly worth mentioning: You have to get and use the tool. And put up with becoming addicted…

Map Your Mind, Rule the Universe…

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