Do you have dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of loose notes? Are they floating around on old bill envelopes, post-its, scrap paper, and bathroom tissue? If you are like me, or at least the me a year ago, you probably write down your inspirations and ideas on whatever is handy and nearby. Crayon and a fast food cup? Been there. And now you can’t find that plot outline for the greatest story ever told because your husband or wife threw it out with the garbage. Either that or it simply got sucked into that dimension where my missing G.I. Joes and the matches to about a half a dozen socks go. Maybe it was the house gnome. GRRRRRR!
But that was me approximately a year ago, before I discovered some wonderful software called FreeMind. Whenever I get inspired, I fire up FreeMind (if it isn’t already running) and add some nodes to my “Story Ideas” mind map. For those times I don’t want to be saddled with a computer, I ensure I have my pocket sized notebook on me. I’ll jot the bits down and then enter them into FreeMind the next time I am at the computer. Then I scratch out the idea and if the page is full I tear it out and throw it away.
I can hear the skeptics now. I could do this in MS Office (or Open Office) and achieve the same thing. Well, you could, but FreeMind allows you to map things, similar to flowcharting software. The nodes are collapsible so you can view it on a micro or macro level. You can even create custom icons for each node. It is quick and easy to learn and best of all it is FREE. Oh and for all you non-Windows users, it is written in Java so it should be cross platform.
You could also just keep on trucking in a notebook, but how often do you lose your computer… and it would be a pain in the ass to “backup” the written page. This software is good for any type of brainstorming or project development. In fact, I use it at work for software development. It also has the additional feature of being able to export your mind map to HTML. It saves its data in an XML format, so the code monkeys out there could take extra advantage of it.
GMs, DMs, and Storytellers everywhere should do themselves a favor and at least try this bit of programming genius.