Playing With Scapple

I downloaded the trial version of Scapple the other day, to see if it would help with sorting out plot ideas. It’s like the computer version of something I do on paper at the beginning of a story, and I do like techy toys. 🙂

Here’s what it looks like right now:

Walnuts mindmap

I’m playing with colours and connections, and working out the primary ‘funny bits’ (yes, that’s a technical term 🙂 ).

Do I like it? I’m not sure yet. I like the colours, and it’s very neat and tidy at this point, which is a bonus. Storage isn’t a problem, since it’s virtual. I can save my notes into the file folders for each project.

But I find it clunky to work with, compared to some other mindmapping programs I’ve used. Moving bubbles around on the screen is a slow process involving the arrow keys on the computer, instead of being able to grab and drag like in Inspiration. I’m not seeing any way to annotate the connections between bubbles, which is something I do with my pen-and-paper brainstorming. And, for some strange reason, trying to do it on the computer feels like I’m not really interacting with the concepts and characters. I wonder if the experience would be any different with a touchscreen computer?

Overall, I don’t think there’s enough going for it to move me away from pen-and-paper, despite the fact that I’d like to get away from binders and file folders (unless I can find a file cabinet that I like). I wasn’t expecting to be completely comfortable with it right off, but I also shouldn’t be irritated with the workflow, which I have to confess I was.

I’m thinking I might try Xmind. It looks a little more like what I’m used to. The base version is free, so that’s a bonus. I like the screenshots I’ve seen too. Hopefully it’s a little more intuitive and responsive. Once I get into mindmapping mode, the system needs to be able to keep up with me, since I move along pretty fast as I try out new ideas and essentially talk myself into a basic plot.

I’ll let you know how I get along. 🙂

About the author: Kate Lowell

2 comments to “Playing With Scapple”

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  1. zrider - September 11, 2014 Reply

    That’s strange that you can’t drag bubbles around. I wonder if that’s a Windows-version limitation? I can grab and drag.

    To annotate connections, I just add another note in another color around the connection. (I imagine you could even do the note with no background, so it doesn’t stand out as a “note.”)

  2. Kate Lowell - September 11, 2014 Reply

    The missing features aren’t so surprising when you consider that there are features missing in the Windows version of Scrivener too. And there’s not a whole lot of ‘right-click’ functionality, which I also find clunky. Like, I can only change the background colour of a bubble from the menu, not with a right-click. Annoying.

    I’ll try the note on the connection thing. I think that’s what I used to do in Inspiration.

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