Blog Post

Mapping narratives and flowcharts - how it has helped me become a better analyst and writer.

This blog post is more of an opinion piece/informal methodological advice that might apply to other domains than fiction works and dissertation writing for my fellow grad students, from my own experience in mapping narratives and using flowcharts.

Mapping narratives and flowcharts are methods used in multiple domains. Whether it be used in marketing, therapeutic storytelling in psychological therapy, in writing fiction, or in showing the influence of player's choices in video games such as in Detroit: Become Human (which I am analyzing in my research), narrative maps/flowcharts help to 1) organize a hierarchy of concepts/events derived from a bigger idea, 2) visualize this information to grasp meaning quickly.

 The treatment of stories through the metaphor of geographical elements isn't new at all, but it has proved itself incredibly powerful. The workshop that I gave to a class of French literature undergrad on Twine to represent a fictional literary map helped me realize that even more, and I truly hope to have more opportunities to do something like that in the future for pedagogical resources.

Mapping flowcharts of the narratives I'm studying, but also of concepts guiding my own dissertation research has been immensely useful to organize thoughts and their hierarchy. Having this mental picture readily available to be quickly retrieved has helped me being a better analyst - visualizing how things relate to one another - but also writer - how to clearly present information that fit into a complex organization.

I'd highly recommend making flowcharts whenever you write (dissertation, paper, professional biography...). Pen/paper or marker/white board is great, especially when getting started and drafting, but if you do want to use a digital application, I found that draw.io is a good tool: it is free, and provides modifiable templates of different kinds of flowcharts as well as blank documents to create your own flowchart from scratch.

If you know of other free tools to map narrative/design flowcharts, I'd love to read your suggestions in the comment section!

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