5 Ways Authors Can Use Scapple

One of my favourite tools in my author’s toolkit is Scapple. Created by Literature & Latte, the same folk who brought us Scrivener, Scapple is a super simple, yet beautifully useful tool that I personally think is essential for authors. And here are five reasons why.

Scapple Use #1: To Create a Plot

Scapple is a digital mind mapping tool, so it makes sense that if you are a plotter, you could use it to create a visual outline of your book. And then as the story progresses, you can add in any changes or deviations or subplots as you go along. As you can see, I am not a plotter, and therefore have no idea what should be on one, but here is a basic idea of how to create one.

scapple plot

Scapple Use #2: To Create a Timeline

Whether you are a plotter or a pantser, creating a timeline is essential if you’re to keep track of the events in your story. Plotters would probably create the outline before writing, but being a pantser, I like creating it afterwards, when I’m in the editing stage, so I know that the story makes sense. The timeline below was created after writing The Elphite, as you can see, I have incorporated Scapple Use #3 in this too.

timeline 2

Scapple Use #3: To Create a Chapter Summary

If you use Scrivener, then you can use the corkboard feature to keep track of what’s going on in each Chapter, and you can see quite easily how long each chapter is, to make sure that they’re similar lengths. If not, you can use Scapple to create a chapter summary, which will help in the editing stage if you need to add extra things in, or move things around, or just check the continuity.

Scapple Use #4: To Create a Family Tree

If your story spans several generations, or just has a particularly complicated story line involving different families, then creating family trees to keep track of who’s who can be quite useful. Though Scapple only has very basic tools, you can make the text boxes different colours, different shapes, and different sizes. You can join the boxes with dotted lines or arrows, you can add images too (though it does seem to make it a bit slow to work with if the images are a very high-resolution). What I love is that you can create a huge, complicated mind map, then just highlight, copy and paste some of the boxes into a new document, and then create a new one just featuring that detail. When I used to mind map on paper with a pencil, I would end up with an endless number of versions as I made mistakes, rubbed things out, wanted to move things around etc.

Here’s the family tree I created for The Doorway to PAM:

PAM fam tree1

Obviously you could add dates to this and other details if you wanted to, I just needed a basic layout so I could remember who was who.

Scapple Use #5: To Create Character Profiles

Again, this is a post-writing exercise for me, but Scapple is quite useful for creating character profiles, to keep track of their background, appearance, likes and dislikes etc. I created this one for Velvet, who is the main character in the Earth Angel Series.

character profile velvet

Scapple is currently available for Mac and Windows, it is a download, and there is a discount for students/teachers. It is a super reasonable price, and well-worth buying!


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