3 Apps That Help Novelists Brainstorm
by Cristina Schreil

Starting a new novel is a thrilling process. There is a wave of creativity, with an infinite path ahead of you. You are truly the creator of your own story world.

But, it can also be… really awesome. If you’re like many of the writers we’ve worked with, it’s a challenge to brainstorm all the elements of a novel, or real concept that’s been stuck in your head for years. Establishing and tracking key attributes about your story world, character plot, themes, and plot points is very difficult without help. Sometimes, it’s too much for even a single journal, whiteboard, or millions of posts to capture.

Even if you’ve asked a great editor to help you out, there are plenty of digital tools to help you realize your vision.

Check out this curated list of handy apps that can help you brainstorm.

3 Creative Apps That Help Novelists:

  1. Mindomo Mind Map Maker
    Useful for: Taking mind mapping to the next level.

Mind mapping has long been a powerful way for creatives to see their entire vision. There are many, many mind mapping apps out there, with many aimed at larger teams working on business projects. Authors can also use it. Diane often encourages her writers to create mind maps, use interesting colorful pens, and be creative in a way that flows awareness.

For writers who like this idea, but are more deeply connected to digital interfaces, (or, like me, tend to have crumpled handwriting), Mind Map Maker from Mindomo might be a tool worth trying. Many five-star reviews on the App Store praise its simplicity. There are template maps in several layouts. Authors can use multiple maps for different concepts related to their novels. For example, a map can organize thinking around central character qualities, story structure, or character relationships. While in the process of pitching and publishing, writers can even use this app to brainstorm on how and where to submit their proposals.

  1. Theme
    Useful for: Getting thoughts on the page quickly.

Are you one of those writers who sometimes find it easier to express big concepts than to type them out? This is where Temi comes in. The speech-to-text transcription app Temi is an interesting tool that allows users to speak and has automatic transcription.

It is a useful tool for writers who find it easier to express their ideas early on in the creative process. Expressing ideas is also an effective method of freeing writer’s block. With apps like Temi, you don’t have to write down your ideas afterward.

Novelists in the brainstorming stage can easily take direct notes about characters, storylines, etc. — even when inspiration comes from the desk.

  1. Todoist
    Useful for: Making lists (and not losing them under the heap on your desk).

If making lists keeps you organized, but the last thing you want to do is clutter your desk with note after note, consider Todoist. This app lets you create and organize task boards. (Imagine having a separate board for each section of your novel submission). You can set sections, subtasks and mark specific tasks as priority. That makes it useful for the beginning of the bookmaking process, where you might make a note to “Make a strong enough villain” but don’t have all the details perfected yet. It’s nice to have many, many notes stored in one app (unless Post-it Notes from floor to ceiling are really your aesthetics).

With Todoist, you can also visualize your productivity over time and set goals. You can also view your completed assignments, which are strong reminders of your abilities whenever you feel insecure about writing.

What brainstorming apps did you find useful for your novel creation process?

Cristina Schreil is an award-winning reporter, photojournalist and author covering music, culture and health. He has been a senior editor at Write to Sell Your Book since 2011, helping dozens of writers achieve publishing success. For more about his work, visit cristinaschreil.com.

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