Testing software without a use case is like kicking the tires of a car. It doesn’t really tell one much. After reading “Making Connections with Scapple” by Amy Cavender two months ago, I downloaded the trial version of Scapple, tested it out, and wasn’t impressed. My dismissiveness though had more to do with a failure of vision on my part, than a failure of functionality with the software. I take notes and outline in a notebook. It’s part of my process. It’s more fun. What did Scapple have to offer?
Last month I started work on a novel and the process is so much more complex than writing a short story. I needed space. I needed to quickly lay out ideas and move from work to home computers. (Thank you, Dropbox.) So, I decided to give Scapple another try and, this time around, I’m impressed. Since I have a reason to use the software, I can really see how the tool can be used.
Essentially, Scapple is a large piece of digital paper. One types notes and can easily group them together and link ideas/notes to one another. Further, to add an image, one merely drags and drops the file onto the digital paper. While it doesn’t replace my notebook, I’ve used Photoshop and a Wacom Bamboo Create drawing pad to add doodles and notes.
If one uses Scrivener for writing, it’s possible to export a Scapple mindmap and import it as an outline to Scrivener. Currently, Scapple, developed by Literature and Latte, is only available for Macs and the price is $12 for an educational license and $15 for a regular license. For a free alternative, Prezi could be used to create a mindmap, but one would lose the simplicity of Scapple, ability to work without a web connection, and would not be able to output files.
Please share your planning process for writing or research projects. Are there any tools or techniques that have simplified your approach?