I'm updating and reposting this article from 2013 because it analyses a software program that has not yet caught on with many writers. Scapple is a program developed by the same folks that created Scrivener, and most writers know how useful that program is. I discovered Scapple when I was asked to beta-test it, and I've been a convert ever since. Each time I start a book project I find new uses for it.
What does that word mean? Think of it as a combination of "scrap" -- "scalpel" (cutting edge) --"scaffold" -- "scramble" -- "scrabble" -- in short a new word to describe that piece of paper on which you doodle until ideas start to flow and make sense. You know the one -- the piece of paper that fills up before you have all your plot elements down? The one you spilled coffee on, just when you knew what you were going to write about? The one that made perfect sense in the middle of the night but is unreadable in the morning?
Well, you can put those so-called idea-scraps in the nearest trash bin. Now,you can use Scapple, a never-ending, infinitely-expandable piece of paper for your computer. And your random thoughts can end up looking like this:
Scapple is not-really mind-mapping software; it's more like freeform virtual paper. It's proof that your random thoughts really do have a pattern or organization behind them. You can start anywhere on the sheet and branch out in any direction. You can include totally unrelated notes, connect ideas in any direction, group items together, move any one note (or any number) from one place to another. You can apply colors, borders, and shapes if you want them. And when you are all though, you can print out your diagram, or save it in PDF, or drag and drop it into Scrivener. How handy is that!
I used it to map out my main story line and its sub-plots for Damned Yankee. I used clusters of notes for each chapter, and then moved them over to Scrivener for reference. And when I completed a draft of a whole chapter, I could drag the new Scrivener note card from the corkboard view back into Scapple, so that it showed up as a completed chapter. Here's a small clip that shows some completed chapters in pink, the next chapters as topics in green, and related plain notes for each chapter.
Since then, I've also used Scapple in all sorts of ways:
The best news is that Scapple is now, in 2015, available for Windows as well as MAC. This is software you cannot afford to ignore. It still only costs $14.99, and you can get a 30-day free trial if you like . Order it at http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scapple.php#wrapper-content