… To a Mind Map


My previous article “From the back of an envelope…” deals with some rather complex events both at present and in the past. It jumps across continents and between English and Chinese languages, and pays tribute to individuals that range from authors, publishers and translators to scientists, governments and who knows what else. While I had a great time writing the whole thing, it might be a bit confusing to the others.

So it dawned on me that a “Mind Map” could be of use here.

I first came into contact with the helpful concept of “Mind Map” while translating, publishing and promoting Australian author Claire Scobie’s Secrets of Travel Writing as a Chinese ebook in 2012. These days Claire stands tall on the literary stage with her beautiful historical novel The Pagoda Tree. An English-born journalist and author of Last Seen in Lhasa (winner of the Dolman Best Travel Book Award in 2007), Claire is a frequent contributor to a series of renowned publications around the world. She teaches travel writing across Australia and is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers.


I approached Claire in early 2012 with the intention to translate and promote her Secrets of Travel Writing because I saw its potential in the Chinese world. As mentioned in my review of this valuable ebook, “This is the era of travel writing for the Greater China, not only by established and emerging travel writers in Taiwan and China, but also by international travel writers.” Indeed, it is estimated that by 2015, approximately 100 million Chinese citizens will be venturing overseas every year.

To help cultivate a new generation of travel writers, Claire’s Secrets of Travel Writing gives readers an insider’s edge to travel writing in print and online. Readers will learn how to pitch, where to sell their works, and how to create must-read travel stories. More importantly, from conducting research to knowing their market, from generating ideas to composing the actual story, from revising and editing to promoting their work, and from establishing a network of contacts to pitching to their ideal publications – this simple 10-step ebook teaches readers not only how to write travel stories, but also how to write.

The concept of “Mind Map” comes into the ebook in “Step 7: Craft the Story”. In Claire’s words:

“If linear thinking doesn’t work for you, you can also use a Mind Map. This is helpful if your story has many themes and you’re trying to work out what should lead… [It] can help you work out which is the strongest angle. I often get a sense of which part has the most ‘juice’.”

So, here is a Mind Map for my previous article. To me, the part that has the most “juice” is the second last paragraph, which finally reveals what an expert in aerodynamics was doing in China’s remote northwest region in December 1968. While this may not be ideal from a journalistic point of view (which requires writers to put the Who, Where, What When, How and Why in the beginning of a news story), I do like the way in which the “story” reaches its climax in the end.


I hope this Mind Map will help you better understand my article. Meanwhile, if you would like to know more about Claire Scobie’s Secrets of Travel Writing ebook, please go to her website.

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