New York Times: Author Richard Powers Uses MindManager to Write National Book Award-Winning Novel, “The Echo Maker”

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June 13, 2007

In Rachel Donadio’s June 10, 2007 New York Time Book Review, she astutely picked up on an interesting trend in the form of art imitating life, only this time it is software imitating the writing process. Accomplished authors, mixing business skills with pleasure and talents, have taken their pads and pencils to the next level. Featured in Rachel’s article is Richard Powers and how for the past decade, he has used Mindjet MindManager in his writing process.

For “The Echo Maker,” which won the National Book Award last year and is about a man who emerges from a coma without an emotional connection to his intimates, Powers created a visual outline for each character. It included material on his or her “life history, personality traits, physical characteristics, verbal tics, professional and educational background, choices and actions, attitudes and relations to the other characters,” he said. “As the material grew, I created topical sub-branches and sub-sub-branches. … After many months, at the very tips of these increasingly articulated branches, I sometimes ended up with sketches that plugged right into the draft.”

Rachel cites other authors and their tools of choice on all aspects ranging from organizing their complex storylines, rich characters, and flashbacks to aggregating their multi-media background research.  Whatever your method, Rachel concludes, there is no substitute for talent and imagination. We agree and applaud the inspiration, talent, and thinking that begins with a “Central Topic.”

Related Blog:
Author and teacher, Sharon Bakar of the Bibliobibuli blog also covered the New York Times Book Review and asked her audience what software they as writers find useful. Check out the lively discussion here. One comment in the discussion points out that the software mentioned in the Times article is fairly expensive.  Here are some options for a range of budgets:  MindManager software has a full-featured trial with all the bells and whistles – try it free for 21 days. This is the “Pro” version. When you’ve captured your ideas, outlines, character sketches, and links to web pages in your map and you’re ready to write, you can import your map into Microsoft Word or Excel and not have to start with a blank sheet of paper.  Also available are lower cost versions, “Mac” and “Lite,” with less technical integration, but are equally easy to use and fun.

Book Map:
Below is a representative map of authors who have used MindManager in their writing process. We’d love to hear from you – What kinds of software tools do you use in your writing process? Ever tried MindManager to write an article, book, or story? If Mindjet were to create a writing map template, what kinds of prompters or how to’s in the template would you find useful? Please send us your thoughts.


If you have a copy of MindManager, click here to download this map.

If you don’t have MindManager, and would like to view this map, please download our free trial first, then click here to download the map.

If you would me to add your book to this map, please send a link or jpeg of your book cover and I’ll be glad to add it to our collection! thanks!

6 Responses to “New York Times: Author Richard Powers Uses MindManager to Write National Book Award-Winning Novel, “The Echo Maker””

  1. Billy

    The map isn’t downloadable or viewable. Maybe put up a fresh link. I have tried two computers and 3 browsers.

  2. Colin Walls

    I am primarily a technical writer and completed a book in 2005 [http://www.embeddedsoftwareworks.com] using MM. I used a map to manage the project as a whole and to plan the book down to below the subsection level. I am now working on another book using the same approach.

    I have not used MM7 yet, but I think that the ability to focus on a single branch alone would be good, as I found that a hierarchy of maps is the only way to not get distracted.

  3. James

    I just wrote up an article on my use of Dramatica, OneNote and MindManager to analyze and write stories. The article can be found on my blog “daily dramatica” here:

    http://dailydramatica.com/2007/06/13/another-look-at-software-for-screenwriting/

    I’m just getting used to the new interface in MindManager 7, but so far, absolutely love it.

    For my latest writing project, I’m starting to outline my story/characters in MindManager in much the same way that was described in the original article. So far I’m finding that as incredible as OneNote is at searching ink and collecting information, I’m really enjoying the “visual” aspect of organizing my thoughts in MindManager.

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