Things I Like: Scapple

Another nod to the folks at Literature and Latte (creators of Scrivener, which I’ve already raved about)…this time, for Scapple, a brainstorming, white-boarding, mind-organizing free-form tool that uses boxes, lines, and arrows to help you organize your thoughts. Or, in the case of my book, to help me organize my character’s actions and reactions.

What I like about Scapple (aside from the 30 days-of-use — not 30 consecutive days — free trial) is that it just gets bigger as your ideas get bigger. I tend to like to write on paper, but it’s limiting. Even on the white board (and I have a huge one in my office), I run out of room. But the page you have in Scapple just grows as your ideas flower and develop. There is also no built-in hierarchy, so your ideas just flow. The arrows and lines are what organizes them.

Below is a quick peek at what I have for my book so far (don’t bother trying to read it — I had to zoom out quite a bit so you can see everything):

scapple, brainstorming, things I like, justine covington

Here’s a more close-up view of one part of my book:

scapple, brainstorming, justine covington

I can create a “Note” (that’s the box), color-code it, draw arrows in multiple directions, connect it to multiple other notes, and rearrange everything as I need to to make room for more ideas.

One of the key benefits I’ve found in using Scapple is that it’s helping me see where the deficiencies are in my plot. I’ve been working through things in an action > reaction-type way. Someone does something. That results in a PROBLEM. The next action is to counteract the problem. I go back and forth like this, color coding for different characters, and in some cases combining problems together in a group box, working through each major action in my book to make sure I haven’t left anything dangling and that everyone is active and in motion. Can’t have the bad guy sitting around doing nothing for three chapters! Scapple helps me see that.

Right now, it’s US $14.99 and is available on both the Mac and Windows platform. I highly recommend giving it a try, particularly if you’re stuck in your current book or about to brainstorm your next one.

[Full disclosure: I receive no compensation — money or otherwise — for touting Scapple or any Literature and Latte product.]

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