My latest endeavor is to sketch out my next novel with the help of a mindmap. I do most of my writing on a Linux netbook, so I hunted down Xmind as a free mindmap application. Mindmaps, if you haven’t worked with them before, let you brainstorm ideas in a visual way. Think of an org chart, and you get an idea of where it can go. There are other core templates or structures to use.
So far, I’ve used the org chart template to flesh out my main characters (Terran, Novan, and others). I list the person and their main role. Then I add notes for physical, emotional states etc( your basic character sketch.
The second map uses the timeline template to lay out the main story arcs. I will eventually use this to drive the chapters. Since you can collapse subtopics in a map, I could outline the entire novel this way. We’ll see how it goes after the first few maps are fleshed out!