This is a review and case study for Scapple, a free-form text tool by the makers of Scrievener.
The first example below is for my serial series, The Foxes of Synn.
It’s just cells put together like a typical diagramming program.
I started by dumping my ideas down into notes and forming connections, which is what my brain tries to do first. That’s the “Concepts/Problems” section.
When I saw it after it was finished, I knew it would be useless to me as a standalone reference because it had too many random connections and tie ins. I didn’t know where to look. (The problem I always have with mind maps.)
The Problems by Story blocks were made by using the stack notes and background shape features.
The new idea diagram was imported to Scapple from this brain dump in a word doc. Scapple lets you move sections/paragraphs independently with click and drag. I end up with these big docs all the time and like…a quarter of it is actually plot relevant. (See above.)
I need to start off with a brain dump because things get tangled in my head and I don’t know what to focus on until I’ve written it all out. The problem is, once I’ve written it out, it’s a huge chore to keep copy-pasting stuff to organize it better.
There’s always too much information for me to organize it in a way that lets me find what I want. Scapple solves that problem!
It’s so helpful to be able to organize my thoughts into themed groups with connections. I just can’t come up with a cluster of information like that from blank space. I need to free-write first.
I need A LOT OF SPACE with distinct separations and borders around things all the time or I get overloaded. Scapple gives me that too.
I was able to work out my problems in an hour because I could move paragraphs around to see which parts were connected to a story and which were just me overthinking.
The last example is a relationship map based on the book I was TRYING to write when the foxes stole the show. I’ll have a separate post soon about relationship mapping.
I wish you could put different shapes and stuff instead of just rectangles, but Scapple is better than anything else I’ve found so far.
Trello is still better for collaborative purposes, but this might be useful for keeping character profiles and building notes progressively until/unless Trello gets an export feature that works. Scapple exports to several common formats, but the .rtf converter is a little glitchy and sometimes got my data out of order. All in all, Scapple is well-worth its modest price tag of $14.99!