First, I'd like to thank all of you who have commented and have said nice things about my writing. I greatly appreciate it and I hope that all of you will continue to read.
I discovered this program called FreeMind from the blog of Jason Penney (Using a Mind Map to Organize Novel Notes). It essentially organizes notes for you into Mind Maps. What are Mind Maps? Well, remember when you were a kid and your teacher said, "Write one idea in a bubble and then start drawing lines to new ideas and thoughts, and then more thoughts and ideas on those", so that you ended up with this paper of connected thoughts and information? That's basically a Mind Map, albeit less complicated. Now, this isn't to say that using FreeMind is complicated. Not at all. In fact, once you figure out the very basic commands it's incredibly simple to use. Here's an example of one I'm working on right now. Albeit, I have some things closed off (lines that end in little 'o' things are ones that can be further expanded for more info within the program), simply because they would make it too big to get an accurate image of.
(Clicking the image should make it larger so you can see the words better)This makes organizing my thoughts so much easier. In fact, when I started doing it, I only have some minor ides of certain things. After a while I had huge lists of stuff on there because the Mind Mapping process allowed me to come up with more ideas. Now, this isn't to say that I use this to come up with story ideas, but it is saying that I'm using this process to organize valuable information. In the case of the above image, I've had to keep note of different stars, their types, and various other information that would come in use during the story that I'm modeling on this subject. So, essentially, that's Mind Mapping.
Now, this is a whole new thing for me and I'm still not entirely sure how I will utilize it for all my writing efforts. In the instance of science fiction the program comes in great use because it allows me to keep track of various little minor facts that otherwise would get forgotten--physics, star system information, and the like. With fantasy, I imagine I could do much the same, but I have yet to start Mind Mapping all my info for The World in the Satin Bag yet. Perhaps it will happen.
Alternately, I'm wondering what all of you do in your brainstorming sessions--you being the reader of course. Before this program, it was mostly coming up with a basic plot or event. In the case of The World in the Satin Bag, my first thought was of a boy who gets sucked into an alternate world. Originally I had no idea it would be at the state it is now. I had no idea that his friend would get sucked in first, nor that war would break out, or anything of that nature. I had expected that he would just gain magic from being there, and not because he had a Fearl--a concept I didn't come up with until more or less by accident while writing the scene when Laura gets sucked in. So my brainstorming starts out to be very basic. I don't flesh out entire ideas on purpose. For me, fleshing out ideas tends to leave me with little 'freedom'. I know I can change anything at any time, but the problem is I've already come up with a story I like. I'd much rather leave the majority of the plot unwritten in my mind so that I can have free reign in the direction of the story. The furthest I think ahead is what the next chapter is 'basically' going to be about. This is all of course referring to fantasy.
But for science fiction I have a lot more issues to deal with. I tend to have grand scale ideas of a aliens and Earth and humankind. So, my first thoughts are: How am I going to get Humans from here to there in reasonable time? How did they get there in the first place? Did someone help us? Are we alone in our fight for whatever might need fighting for?
I try to answer those, because they serve as the backdrop of my science fiction world.
So, I'm curious what those of you do to flesh out your ideas, or if you do that at all. Are you the type to simply sit back and go with the flow? Or do you like to work out the story ahead of time?