In Rachel Donadio’s June 10, 2007 New York Time Book Review, she astutely picked up on an interesting trend in the form of art imitating life, only this time it is software imitating the writing process. Accomplished authors, mixing business skills with pleasure and talents, have taken their pads and pencils to the next level. Featured in Rachel’s article is Richard Powers and how for the past decade, he has used Mindjet MindManager in his writing process.
For “The Echo Maker,” which won the National Book Award last year and is about a man who emerges from a coma without an emotional connection to his intimates, Powers created a visual outline for each character. It included material on his or her “life history, personality traits, physical characteristics, verbal tics, professional and educational background, choices and actions, attitudes and relations to the other characters,” he said. “As the material grew, I created topical sub-branches and sub-sub-branches. … After many months, at the very tips of these increasingly articulated branches, I sometimes ended up with sketches that plugged right into the draft.”
Rachel cites other authors and their tools of choice on all aspects ranging from organizing their complex storylines, rich characters, and flashbacks to aggregating their multi-media background research. Whatever your method, Rachel concludes, there is no substitute for talent and imagination. We agree and applaud the inspiration, talent, and thinking that begins with a “Central Topic.”
Author and teacher, Sharon Bakar of the Bibliobibuli blog also covered the New York Times Book Review and asked her audience what software they as writers find useful. Check out the lively discussion here. One comment in the discussion points out that the software mentioned in the Times article is fairly expensive. Here are some options for a range of budgets: MindManager software has a full-featured trial with all the bells and whistles – try it free for 21 days. This is the “Pro” version. When you’ve captured your ideas, outlines, character sketches, and links to web pages in your map and you’re ready to write, you can import your map into Microsoft Word or Excel and not have to start with a blank sheet of paper. Also available are lower cost versions, “Mac” and “Lite,” with less technical integration, but are equally easy to use and fun.
Below is a representative map of authors who have used MindManager in their writing process. We’d love to hear from you – What kinds of software tools do you use in your writing process? Ever tried MindManager to write an article, book, or story? If Mindjet were to create a writing map template, what kinds of prompters or how to’s in the template would you find useful? Please send us your thoughts.
If you have a copy of MindManager, click here to download this map.
If you would me to add your book to this map, please send a link or jpeg of your book cover and I’ll be glad to add it to our collection! thanks!