I’ve written a few novels in my short career, but all of them go through the meticulous planning process before I ever sit down to write.
I am, in no sense of the word, a “pantser”.
When Stephen King and Peter Straub wrote The Talisman they wrote a chapter each and then sent each chapter (once written) via courier to each other. Straub would write a chapter and send it to King who would then write the next chapter and back and forth it would go until completed. Straub, being a strict planner, constructed a meticulous outline for the entire novel as he saw it and based on his conversations with King. King, however, a “pantser”, would write the next chapter off the outline, causing Straub to rewrite his outline each time. I’m sure this was pretty frustrating for Straub, but it made for a great novel nonetheless.
I am like Peter Straub in this regard.
Mind Node is a program I discovered a few years ago and it has made my life as a planner a million times easier. I am able to start a kernel of an idea and then branch off of that idea seamlessly, creating branch after branch of connections. I can then draw arrows between different sections or kernels of ideas and see how they play out.
I’m sure there are several other mind mapping programs, but Mind Node has been simple enough so that I don’t get bogged down in bells and whistles or fancy features. It basically has a few functions that allow me to do what is necessary while brainstorming and the features do not get in the way of my mental exercises. It is intuitive, helpful, and allows me to put ideas into order.
If you are a fiction writer like me, then getting one of these mind mapping programs is key to really “seeing” your plot, sub-plots, characters, character arcs, and symbolism, etc. on a single page. You can also print it out so that you can mark it up later.
Mind node has been an invaluable resource in the planning stages of my novels, and I’m sure it will be a welcome addition to the programs you use to create.