Writing with Visual Aids

A nice post from the Kill Zone on Visual Writing tools.   Nancy Cohen says:

Many of us use visual tools when we write: collages about the main character or setting, plotting diagrams, charts, timelines, and photos.

I use the following:


I use this primarily for research notes, but also to track submissions.  I stay to keywords as much as possible, which was a hard thing to do at first.  I also try to draw pictures (not very well, I’m afraid) to represent subjects.  The different branches are color-coded.


Not the way Nancy describes it though.  During the revision, I use either a Gantt-style timeline or a climbing timeline to work out the order of my scenes.  It gives me an immediate, overall impression of the entire story.  The exception is the Desert Storm novel I also have in the works.  Because it’s based on historical events, I had to do one before I did anything else.  The story will have to fit in with those events.


I’m finding a map helps me to make sure I know where everything is.  It can also identify key plot points or motivations.  I did a map for Miasma by taking an outline of Rhonde Island and using PowerPoint’s free form tool to trace it.  Then I just altered some of the points (I did not spend that much time on it!) to adjust the shape.  Then a dot to mark the various places.  My maps generally need to be simple, so I can focus on what I need and not on all the other elements on it.


These have been apparently turning up in schools — wish I’d had them when I was in school.  They represent the information visually to help with recall.  I’ve been experimenting with them to help develop conflict and represent setting.

What do you use?

I had 664 words on Miasma last night.