Posted by Kristen Crowley Held
As you've probably guessed from my collage post, I'm definitely a visual thinker. Today I thought I’d introduce you to another visual brainstorming method: webs!
Webs are also known as mind maps, spidergrams, or clusters, but essentially they all involve creating a diagram/visual map with a central concept surrounded by associated concepts. They're a simple tool that can help you visualize and develop your story ideas. All you really need to create a web is a piece of paper and a pencil, but if you want to get fancy, you can use one of my favorite software tools, something called, aptly enough, Inspiration© (Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Inspiration Software, Inc., I'm just a fan!).
So what exactly is Inspiration©?
"Inspiration© allows you to create a picture of your ideas and concepts in the form of a diagram or mind map. It also provides an integrated outlining environment for developing your ideas into organized written documents. Inspiration stimulates both visual and linear thinking to deepen understanding of concepts, increase memory retention, develop organizational skills and tap creativity."
Sounds cool, right? So how can you use this visual learning software to help you write a story?
A web representing The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.
When building a web with Inspiration© you can start with a template or build your diagram from scratch. You can use words or images to express your ideas, examine character relationships, organize your plot, or create a plan of attack for writing your story. Inspiration© has a built-in library of symbols available for use or you can insert images of your own.
You can create a web that explores your story as a whole:
In this case the main character is the central image surrounded by supporting characters and plot elements.
Or a web that focuses on a specific character:
You can explore what makes your character tick, how they connect to other characters, bits of their backstory, etc.
Or a specific element of your story:
Is there a specific theme you want to explore? How might the various elements of your story reflect that theme?
I haven't tried it myself but Inspiration©'s Presentation Manager allows you to create presentations from your webs. You can also transfer the information in your web into outline form. One of the other advantages to creating webs with a software program is the ability to rearrange things at will. And you never have to worry about losing the piece of paper with your web on it.
Although Inspiration© is the only web making software I’ve tried, WikIT has oodles of information on the various graphic organizer software options available, many of which are free!
If you'd like to try Inspiration©, you can download a 30 day trial here (they're currently having a Fall sale so if you decide you want to buy it you can get it for 50% off- again I am in no way affiliated with Inspiration Software, Inc.!).
If you do decide to try creating your own web, I'd love to hear how it goes!