Pantser Review of Mind Mapping Tools

My goal is to be better organized with my ideas. They are organized in my head, but not on paper and then I am not able to see the gaps. I am not able to simulateously identify the character arcs with the plot progression. I needed a way to link ideas together, color code them, and force myself to dive into details on character development early on in my planning process.

So with that in mind, I looked at five options. These varied from simple mind mapping, to more complex organizing of ideas like a bulletin board. See what I chose by reading my experience of trying out each one!

  1. Scapple
  2. Mindmiester
  3. Mindnode
  4. Milanote
  5. Miro


  • Easy to enter fast – Ctrl+Enter creates new notes and a single Drag and drop of one note over the over draws a connection line
  • Text only, no pictures, very basic
  • Paid…. even at $18, it just doesn’t seem worth it…


  • No desktop version
  • Easy to enter with Add right to same tree, add left to expand further down tree
  • Very basic at free version and it’s a subscription. Pictures and colors and links aren’t available


  • Favorite one for simple and fast relationship mapping
  • Scapple and MindNode combined! Added navigate with arrow keys between elements
  • Can add photos and hidden notes
  • Compatible on both phone and desktop Enter and tab (or left and right click) to enter fast


  • I like this option for going beyond a mind map
  • It has an unsorted list, easy to copy paste for any pictures or links
  • You can highlight some and drag it out into its own node very simply
  • Power up to expand card, transparent the card
  • Dive into a board (another nested page)
  • Lines are a pain so visual separation is achievable with placement (drop anywhere) and colors
  • 100 note/card limit for free plan


  • Similar to MilaNote with room for massive ideas!
  • Does have a mind map feature that is easy to branch and add elements
  • Only one that does mind map nodes that can connect to more than two elements
  • Easy to add other types of elements like pictures and sticky notes, and easy to move multiple elements


If you can tell by the screenshots, I liked Miro the best. It is more than what I was originally looking for, but easy enough to learn how to use (cough cough, Scrivener). I also like the fact that I can have an idea in the middle of the night and add it on my phone. I like the ability to start with a mind map (it’s tiny at the top), and expand out. I started with mapping madness ideas, and then as they started to have lessons and connections, I pulled out the important ones into sticky notes and went linear for chapter planning. Then, I started associating color (intentionally chosen) with different themes.

This is not a good program for perfectionist or left-brained organizers – I find myself wanting to align everything perfectly like excel. When I stopped caring about size, it helped. So far I am liking being able to see the gaps, reorder them entirely. It helped to add more than one block of different styles to get “uncomfortable” with design and let the ideas flow.

Hope that is useful! Let me know if there is a tool you like!

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