Chapter 6

Map It: From Mind Mapping to BRIEF Maps

Long story, short. Professionals mistakenly abandon outlines, but a BRIEF Map is a new visual outlining tool that prepares you to be succinct.

Your 11th Grade English Teacher Was Right

Working from an outline is always a good idea. As the father in a large family, I get lots of opportunities to edit my kids' school papers. And even though it can be painful at times, I encourage them to use me as a sounding board. As a matter of principle, I always ask them for an outline.

“Guys, I'm in the word business,” I tell them. “I can help edit your papers, but you're going to need to give me an outline first.”

One of my daughters, Isabel, was tackling a particularly tough high school term paper on freedom of speech. It was an important project for her junior year coursework. She had been working on it for months, and it needed to be eight pages long.

“Dad, I have so much research; I don't know where to start,” Isabel complained as the deadline quickly approached.

“Don't worry; just show me your outline,” I said, knowing that her teacher expected one, too.

“Oh, I've got one done already.”

“Okay, I'd love to see it,” I replied. But it never appeared. Instead, she quickly planted the rough draft in front of me before I could stop her.

“Just look at the first few pages. I need to know if I'm on the right track,” Isabel said. I dove in and started editing. Before I knew it, I was hacking her paper to pieces with a red pen. She started getting ...

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