A Tool For Writer: Mind-Mapping Book Outline

A Tool For Writer: Mind-Mapping Book Outline

I extremely believe in book outlines and spend months on them. After I have made an outline for a book, the writing is much easier. All I have to do is flesh in the outline with concise, clear, and memorable words. For my next book, however, I will use a different approach.


This approach is based on mind-mapping, a visual, color-coded representation of content. Since I am a visual person (I have a graduate degree in art), the approach appealed to me. I read several Internet articles about mind-mapping and thought I was ready to begin. But I found there was a lot more preparation work before I made my map.


Susan C. Daffron describes some of this work in her Internet article, “How to Create an Outline for Your Non-Fiction Book,” published on the Logical Expressions website. First and foremost, the author has to determine the purpose of the book. “You can’t write something as long as a book without figuring out the big picture,” she explains.


After I read that sentence I realized I was in trouble. Though I had come up with a title, it was not as good as I hoped, so I brainstormed on other titles. Each includes an active verb. Instead of finalizing the title, I started a computer file, and will look at the list again in a few weeks.


I have even gone so far as to find three royalty-free cover photos that symbolize my book. This book comes from experience and I have a good idea of the chapter titles. Still, I continue to research my topic.. Printouts of Internet articles and notes to myself are stored in a large bin that will hold additional resources.


Judy Collins lists the mind-mapping branches of a nonfiction book in her Internet article, “Book Chapters — Organize and Outline with Mind-Mapping,” posted on the Hub Pages website. The book title is in the center of the page and branches come out from it. There are four major branches: the hook, or introduction, the concept (which she calls a thesis), the benefits, and finally, the conclusion. Each branch is a different color.


Chapters should close with “a final sentence that features the benefits in the next chapter to invite the reader to want to keep reading,” writes Collins.


When you run into trouble, as I have with my outline, Allen Bohart, author of “Writing a Book Outline,” posted on the Search Warp website, says you should call time out. “Taking a step back and reviewing your book outline will allow you to get back on track,” he explains. So I have taken a step back and am doing some Roman numeral outlining, a hybrid of the old method and new mind-mapping.


This approach is working for me and it may work for you. When I have a body of research, I will draw my map and see if it represents the book in my mind. A year from now I hope I have a work of art, a combination of good information and good writing.


Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson



Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for 30+ years. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of Health Care Journalists, and Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief,” written with Lois Krahn, MD is available from Amazon.

Centering Corporation has published her 26th book, “Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life” and a companion journal with 100 writing jump-starts. Hodgson is a monthly columnist for the new “Caregiving in America” magazine, which resumes publication in August. She is also a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation website. Please visit Harriet’s website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *