Yes, I vanished again. Let’s blame an abundance of both work and holidays – go summer!

But I have not been idle. Indeed, friends, I have been knee-deep in preparation for a Script Retreat. Doesn’t that sound grand? Basically, it goes like this:

See, these guys called Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Lawrence Kasdan decided to go away for a few days in 1978 and work on this thing called Raiders of the Lost Ark.

And the guys over at Realm Pictures decided they would emulate their heroes and go away for a weekend to work on The Underwater Realm. Jon Dupont, our producer, then sets us all homework to do prior to this script retreat. It’s like going on a Biology Field Trip, seriously.

Our first task: characters. I love characters. They’re one of my favourite things about films. I grin at their entrances, swoon at their first kisses and cry when they die heroically in a decent-sized explosion.

However, most of my ideas flow organically as a whole. Protagonist, characters, plot, setting – they come as a package deal in my head. So, for my new structured approach to brainstorming, I decided to turn to an old friend: the mind map.

You may remember these from school but, for those who don’t: what is a mind map?

In its simplest form, it often resembles a spider: a central idea with releated ideas sprouting off it in all directions.

A simple mind map

As it grows more complex, ideas offshoot from the first level and then arrows start flying between the ideas to show interconnections.

It’s also not just for characters. When I was stuck on the Fun and Games section of my Baking Lawyer rom com, a bit of brainstorm helped me find what was good about my concept – and what was funny.

A plot storm

As seen above, I like to paperstorm and then snap a pic with the old iPhone before sharing across my devices with Evernote. However, I’ve also delved into mindmapping software and am currently using iMindMap.

Here’s one of my character creations on the basic free software (in fact, the development of my initial basic map above):

Computerised mindmapping

The one drawback is obvious: conversion to text. As my producer pointed out to me before attempting to transcribe one of them.

However, as a method of idea-building, I don’t think that anything can beat the humble mind map.

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