Tuesday Writing Tip – How to Mind Map Your Story

Do you have trouble with story structure…knowing what to include in your story…coming up with ideas?

Before I start my story I usually have an idea of what it’s going to be about…eg with Letters to Leonardo I had an idea for a story about a boy who gets a letter from his ‘dead’ mother.

After I have the concept or basic premise for a story, the next thing I do is brainstorm and mind map it. This helps me work out what happens in the story and when it happens. It also helps me identify themes and story threads that can form the basis of sub plots and be used to add depth and tension to the story.

Here’s a diagram of how I mind-mapped Letters to Leonardo.


1.            Think of a character. To find out more about them, you can do a character interview (Help on how to do this is available at the character interview recipe) This will also help you develop the back story. You might not end up using the back story, but what has happened to your character in the past will affect how they behave in the future.

2.            Once you know this character, think of a story problem for them. What is something they want or need, but can’t get? What has happened to them to create this immediate need or want? For example, in my YA novel, Letters to Leonardo, Matt gets a letter on his fifteenth birthday from the mother he thought was dead. What is the catalyst – the even that starts your story off.

3.            Write this is a circle in the middle of a large sheet of blank paper or a whiteboard.

4.            Based on the event that started your story, ask yourself a lot of questions:

  • What exactly happened?
  • How did this event happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • Who did it happen to?
  • Why did it happen?
  • When did it happen to?
  • What if things had happened differently?
  • What will happen next?

(You can see in the diagram where I have asked these questions when mind-mapping Letters to Leonardo.)

5.            Let your mind flow free and offer up different answers to the questions you asked in “4.”

Write down whatever ideas come into your head.

This activity is all about thoughts and inspirations and possible plot points.  (These are the things I have written in green on my mind map).

6.            Select the parts/elements from your mind map that you want to include in your story. These will be the catalysts for the action in your story – the plot points.

I hope you have found this post helpful.

Do you have any tips on brainstorming/mindmapping your story? Please feel free to leave them and your comments.

Happy writing and brainstorming:)


4 thoughts on “Tuesday Writing Tip – How to Mind Map Your Story

  1. Most emphatically, yes! Thanks Dee, I’m especially fond of bubble flow chart diagrams. I use a similar one for brainstorming ideas, and strengths and weaknesses of characters. Dim x

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