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Software review (kind of): Scapple

With how much I rant and rave about Scrivener (my all-time favorite writing software), it’s probably a surprise that it’s taken me so long to try out the other software developed by the same company: Scapple.

Where Scrivener is a fancy word processor designed to help writers keep their stories organized, outlined, and overwhelmingly beautiful, Scapple is a different kind of program entirely. Scapple is basically a really simple but extremely elegant brainstorming program, which, actually, is exactly why I haven’t downloaded it until now.

You see, with the vast majority of the Martyrs brainstorming totally done, I didn’t see the point in buying a program designed around brainstorming and developing a new story. I’d already gotten through that stage of the Martyrs saga, so it seemed pointless to download Scapple for the sole purpose of inputting the brainstorms I already had into it. I wasn’t developing a new book, after all.

But the last few weeks I’ve been playing with a new novel idea, and for the first time in almost a decade, I found myself getting heavily immersed in this exact stage again. Admittedly, I was a little lost at first. It’s been so long since I’ve seriously sat down and brainstormed a totally new novel idea that I was having a hard time keeping all my thoughts organized. This is exactly how it had gone with Martyrs all those years ago, but of course, I’d taken years to finally get the story to a workable place.

I didn’t want to take years with this one.

So I downloaded the trial version of Scapple (which is originally only $14.99) to see what I thought. I’m really, really glad I did.

Admittedly, I haven’t worked out all the tricks and tactics with Scapple yet. I’ve only had the program for three days. What I can tell you, though, is that I have a way clearer idea on where I’m going in this new novel. Look at how awesome my web is!

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 1.51.25 PM

Because I can change the colors of certain notes, I can differentiate between things that are background or historical information, things that are actively happening in the course of the novel, and ideas I have that I haven’t totally settled on keeping or not. This way, I can keep track of every single idea I’ve had or I’ve gotten through talking things through with my friends and organize them in a rough timeline for what will, eventually, become the plot.

(Scapple also works seamlessly with Scrivener, which I haven’t explored yet, but I’m looking forward to trying it when I’m ready to start outlining and writing!)

Of course, you don’t need a specialized program to brainstorm a novel. For centuries, writers have brainstormed their novels using archaic tools, from just jotting their ideas down on paper or keeping everything stored away in their brains. If that’s how you prefer to brainstorm, excellent! Whatever works for you is, obviously, best for you! But if you’re like me, and you like having a visual representation of your story that you can actually see while you work on it, Scapple is a great program for getting those brainstorming notes down and organized.

And seriously, look at how pretty that web is.

Cheers,
–MC

Categories: Tips and Tricks, Writing

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