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Apr 25

Scrivener Saturday: A Case for Scapple

This week’s Scrivener Saturday: A Case for Scapple. In other words, why should you bother with pen and paper around?


While I could tell you a million and one things about Scrivener, Literature and Latte’s second program, Scapple, is something I’m still sinking my pen into. Unlike Scrivener, Scapple isn’t made for writing a novel–it’s meant for brainstorming and planning, for organizing your thoughts before you write.

Writers have been using mind-maps to brainstorm since their invention, so why use a program like Scapple?

It’s easier.

No, really. It is. I’m a huge fan of paper and pencil when planning, but when I use those tools, my process looks like this:

  1. Find pencil/pen. Find a blank piece of paper.
  2. Brainstorm.
  3. Promptly misplace brainstorming paper and spend three hours searching for it, only to find it in a folder in my desk drawer. You know, where I should have looked in the first place.
  4. Once found, try to decipher my chicken-scratch because when I’m mind-mapping, I write FAST. I’m thinking faster than my hand moves so good luck reading it!
  5. If I can read it, I get paranoid I’ll lose it, so I have to hook up the scanner and scan the bad boy into the computer.
  6. Import file into Scrivener, which inevitably comes out too large in the window (images tend to show their true resolution).

For me, that’s a pain in the butt worth losing. Using Scapple, it looks more like this:

  1. Open Scapple.
  2. Brainstorm as fast as I can type.
  3. Change connections to add arrows if I forgot, or group bubbles in larger bubbles. I can even add images that pop into my mind or change colors/borders/shapes of the bubbles.
  4. Drag file straight into Scrivener. (You can also export it in a variety of formats if you prefer.)

Done.

I tossed together a silly idea based on one sentence: Monster eats children for breakfast. Using Scapple, I kept asking WHY over and over as I went. I stopped after one minute because I wanted to get this post up here, but you can see below the direction my brain went and how it looks in Scrivener.

Scapple

Click the image to see it larger.

Once you learn the keyboard shortcuts, using Scapple actually has me working faster than pen and paper. Plus–no chicken scratch or lost data!

[important]If plotting this way isn’t your thing, you can still use the program to do character maps (images, key events, family, hobbies, etc.) much easier than scattering the info across several different files. You could also use it to create timelines.[/important]

What I Love about This Feature: That it drags into Scrivener. Way too cool.

Downside to This Feature: I wish there were some more advanced options for using images in the program. Could be used to create character maps a bit easier!


Scrivener Saturday posts are done every two weeks on Saturday and cover whatever weird tips Raven has found useful in using the writing software, Scrivener, by Literature and Latte.

Check out the entire series of Scrivener Saturday posts here.

About the author

Raven Oak

Bestselling science fiction & fantasy author Raven Oak is best known for Amaskan’s Blood, Class-M Exile, and the collection Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays.

She spent most of her K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet. When she’s not writing, she’s getting her game on, enjoying cartography, or staring at the ocean.

She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach.

6 comments
WallaceCass
WallaceCass

Scapple intrigues me because it appears to do what I've been debating getting a standing whiteboard over. I'm looking hard at that Buy Button...hehe. :)

kevinjmackey
kevinjmackey

I like where your monster story looks to be headed. Nice use of Scrapple!

kaonevar
kaonevar moderator

@kevinjmackey I wasn't even planning to write a story about a monster who eats children, but 1 minute in Scapple has left me considering it!

Latest blog post: W is for Whelan

Galit Balli
Galit Balli

I love mind mapping and use it a lotbwhile brainstorming :)