Playing with Scapple

eileen-richards-author-281x300~ By Eileen Richards

For this last (at least for now) piece in Eileen’s series on writing fast, here’s a tip about a piece of software. Even for pantsers, using Scapple can keep you focused, and increase your writing speed. Enjoy! 

Note: This post originally appeared here

There is another interesting piece of software from Literature and Latte, the company behind Scrivener. It’s called Scapple and, according to the L&L website, is

“Scapple is an easy-to-use tool for getting ideas down as quickly as possible and making connections between them. It isn’t exactly mind-mapping software—it’s more like a freeform text editor that allows you to make notes anywhere on the page and to connect them using straight dotted lines or arrows. If you’ve ever scribbled down ideas all over a piece of paper and drawn lines between related thoughts, then you already know what Scapple does.”

I plot in notebooks. I brainstorm on paper. How hard could this be to translate what I’m doing in a notebook to a piece of software that will import into Scrivener?

I know what you’re thinking. I was thinking the same thing. I’ve had Scrivener since version 1.0. I was an early adopter for the Mac. I’m still learning things about it. Did you know there was a name generator?  I had no idea!

Scapple is a bit different. I was able to layout the beginnings of a plot for Book Three of A Lady’s Wish by just brainstorming some ideas then linking them together. In that process I discovered a plot hole and could quickly take care of it.

I picked up my well-worn copy of Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder and looked at his board and the beats I’d noted for this story. There was a strong temptation to go to the office supply store and buy index cards and build my  board. I resisted and did it in Scapple instead.

I divided the screen into four sections just like in Snyder’s book: Act 1, Act 2 a, Act 2 b, and Act 3.  I color coded them each differently.  I placed my beat scenes into the appropriate places and looked for holes. They were in the middle, as usual. I now have a great visual to go and fix my saggy middle.


The book journey can now begin. I have a map. There are still pieces missing, but I’m sure I’ll figure those out along the way. Off to draft — my favorite part.

Give Scapple a try.  This was really easy to do. I actually had several drafts of the plot and was able to combine scenes from all the drafts into this one. With Save the Cat I could hit all the highlights needed for a good story and weave in the extras.


Eileen Richards writes Regency historical and contemporary romance set in small towns or villages as it was. Still pre-published, she’s focusing on her craft and hoping for The Call. She reached PRO status in 2011 when her husband dared her to submit her current manuscript to go to Nationals. She did, got rejected, and earned her PRO status. When she’s not writing, she’s working with data by day and coming home to her own romantic hero of 33 years and her greyhound, Honey.

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