Scapple BoardDitch the tacks, stickies, and printer. Scapple is the most renter and environment friendly pin board you’ll ever use.

A lot of people use Scapple (from the fabulous folks who brought you Scrivener) primarily as a digital note board. Though the interface can be clunky, there are myriad options for writing, linking, and organizing your thoughts.

Lately, I’ve been using Scapple for another purpose. Inspiration.

The above is the inspiration board I’ve been using for a chapter set inside the Étoile du Nord. A luxury train that ran from Paris to Amsterdam starting in the 20’s. In the center, you can see that I’ve placed one of Scapple’s famous notes filled with some important info for the scene.  That’s not what I want to focus on. It’s the pictures I use most. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, I’d say they’re good for at least a dozen notes as well.

Photos in Scapple can be resized and layered with ease. They to can be linked and organized using the same tools that apply to notes. One feature, however, stands above the rest in making Scapple so useful for this task, drag and drop.

I know, I know, it’s not a ground breaking technological breakthrough but the ability to drag and dump photos off the web and into a holding tank rather than saving them to the desktop or, more likely, leaving a million tabs open in Chrome, is a life changer.

By utilizing a Scapple board, I no longer have to save link after link. I no longer have to create folders full of photos. I no longer have to click between photo files to view each one individually. The Scapple board let’s me keep them all in one place which means I have all that inspiration available in just one quick glance. Less time searching, more time writing, who wouldn’t like that.

So a few months ago I got all excited and filled an entire wall of my apartment with multicolored sticky notes. It was beautiful and oh so satisfying to step back and see all of the planning I had just done. The problem was that there was no way I could make that process sustainable. It required too much paper, too much wall space, and too much time.

Sticky note wall

As I usually do, I wrote to my good friend, author of The Stars Were Right and Old Broken Road, K.M. Alexander to show off my masterwork. As he usually does, he gave me a great suggestion for a better tool. We both use Scrivener  as our primary word processor and the company who makes it also makes a helpful little gem called Scapple. It’s essentially a digital sticky note wall but with so many more great features.

Scapple Example

Sorry about obscuring the notes but I can’t go and give away my secrets now can I?

Anyway, this is just a small example of what you can do with Scapple. I’ve got the main characters on the left and I use lines to track their appearances throughout the scenes. The dark rectangles represent chapters and the stickies inside detail the general actions of each character that shows up in that chapter. I’ve also got some things going on with arrows but they are hard to see in the picture so we’ll just ignore that part.

I’m still somewhat new to the program so there is a lot I have yet to learn. Also, if you aren’t a fan of my green background, don’t worry, the default is white and you can either choose solid colors or use photos as a backdrop.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the program as its website does a great job describing its many functions.

Scapple is available from good people at Literature and Latte. It’s affordable and you can download a free 30-day trial. In this case, each day you open the program counts as one of your thirty days so conceivably you can stretch the free trial out for much more than just a month.

 

I’m not working for Literature and Latte nor am I endorsed by them. This isn’t meant to be a commercial. Their products just kick ass and have made my writing life much easier so I thought I’d spread the word. Give it a try. Or don’t.