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What I Gave the Muse for Valentine’s Day

February 23, 2014

Artyom Tchen @ Stock.xchng

Maybe you thought my Muse was the sort who wants chocolate and flowers.

Not so much. He can have all the chocolate he wants any day of the year, and I give him a steady supply of music and books to keep him out of trouble. No, what he really wants is … software!

So I got him a little program by the name of Scapple, cooked up by the industrious programmers at Literature and Latte, who also created my favorite writing program, Scrivener. I first read about it on Nancy H. Doyle’s blog a few months ago, and this little gem has been distracting me from my writing ever since.

With a thirty-day free trial, the download starts right up displaying a blank screen that just begs to be filled with graphics and, as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been following A Scenic Route for any length of time, I’m all about the pretty pictures.

But Scapple’s main function is to map the process of story creation or any sort of project building. One simply types out the words and drags lines between them to make connections. Depending on whether the shift key is depressed, the arrows can lead from one topic to another or even in both directions. Much to my Muse’s satisfaction, everything is customizable, the background, the font, the size of the pictures, and the whole thing converts to a pdf when I’m done.

Here’s what the story map is starting to look like for The Shoals of Stars.

Shoals of Stars- Mind Map

Shoals of Stars- Mind Map

In the non-spoiler-tastic version of The Tempest’s Serenade, I’ve pasted in images of characters, props and the all-important time line. Gotta have that if you’re going to venture into the treacherous waters of time travel plotting!

The Tempest's Serenade-Scrapbook

The Tempest’s Serenade-Scrapbook

The Tempest's Serenade-Time Line

The Tempest’s Serenade-Time Line



Sometimes when the brain

Sometimes when the brain no longer wants to write any more words, it’s fun to play with pictures and pretend everything fits together like it’s supposed to. I’m glad to have found a program that lets me do that.

What did you get your Muse for Valentine’s Day this year? Any new software keeping you from writing your words?

Cloud image courtesy of Artyom Tchen @ Stock.xchng, all other images courtesy of Big Stock and Wikimedia.
  1. February 23, 2014 3:59 pm

    Ooh, that software looks amazing. I love how your story map for The Shoals of Stars looks like a constellation. Awesome.

    • February 23, 2014 8:29 pm

      I like that! Definitely going to incorporate that idea into my story map. Sometimes my Muse puts things together that even I don’t see right away. 🙂

  2. February 23, 2014 5:09 pm

    That made me chuckle.
    Everyone talks about Scrivener, but I think it would confuse me even more.

    • February 23, 2014 8:31 pm

      There’s a bit of a learning curve with Scrivener, but it’s all learn at your own speed. I don’t know how I would write without that program! 🙂

  3. February 23, 2014 11:41 pm

    Nice Topic. I have used Inspiration, but I like the (open freedom you speak of) to created your own starting point. I am definitely going to check it out.

    I love the plot board cards of Scrivener, but find the other a bit confusing something, but not really all that hard. However if I would take the time to play and learn to really familiarize myself with it– I think I’d probably not want to live without it. I’m impatient. I want to get on to the writing, so won’t spend enough time to really learn the program. I have tried other program. They usually get me with too complicated or don’t do exactly what I need, even tho they are not bad programs. I have to say I think Scrivener is the best I’ve seen for ease, and needs of a writer. Its also the best priced for the money and quality.

    • February 24, 2014 8:09 pm

      Hi Juneta, 🙂
      For quite some time (a year at least) all I did with Scrivener was write, never poked around with scene cards much, didn’t do any formatting or anything fancy. What liked about it was that when I was ready and had some time, I started to find all kinds of cool things to do with it. There are still tons of features that I haven’t learned yet!
      So for the money I’m really satisfied with it.
      Scapple is even lower priced and super easy to get into. 🙂

      Welcome to A Scenic Route!

  4. February 24, 2014 5:16 am

    When I get an internet connection that is good enough, I’m going to try this. Thanks for the tip.

    • February 24, 2014 8:11 pm

      Definitely check it out. The download and trial is completely functional and totally free for 30 days. Let us know what you think!

      • February 26, 2014 8:51 am

        I’ve downloaded the trial and am going to test it. I’ll let you know what I think

  5. February 24, 2014 6:32 pm

    That looks very distracting! But in a good way 🙂 I’ve struggled with timelines. I’ve hand drawn them across the page left to right and run out of paper. I tried Excel but ran out of screen space. I tried going down the page but that just didn’t feel right. I may have to give this a try. Thanks for telling us about it!

    • February 24, 2014 8:13 pm

      I know exactly what you mean about timelines–there is always something new that needs to fit in there and messes everything up. This is my pretty time line! The messy one gets moved around a lot, but it’s super easy to shift things around on the screen.

  6. February 24, 2014 8:56 pm

    Wow! I have missed a ton of your blogs. For some mysterious reason, you’re off my list. So, now you’re back on. I’m glad you like Scrapple. I used it the other night, trying to micro-plot the bottomless middle of my novel.

    • February 24, 2014 9:33 pm

      Perhaps my more frequent posting schedule has caught you by surprise!?
      I just love how putting all my thoughts onto one page makes them appear more logical than they are in my brain. Like plot stew or something; it’s all floating around in there and looks quite tasty!

  7. February 25, 2014 6:18 pm

    Sounds like something I need to check out! Thanks for the info. Thanks also for stopping by my blog for Alex’s interview. It’s great to meet you! 🙂

    • February 26, 2014 5:50 pm

      Hi Karen,
      Welcome to A Scenic Route!
      It’s always fun to see where Alex will turn up next. And do check out Scapple when you have a chance.
      It’s nice to meet you too. 🙂

  8. melissamaygrove permalink
    February 26, 2014 1:15 pm

    Cool! Love the pics and the post.

    I got my muse a website, a formatter, a proofreader, and a graphics artist, in preparation for turning her third creation loose on the world of unsuspecting readers. LOL

    • February 26, 2014 5:52 pm

      Wow, a whole team of assistants! I bet you muse is loving all this attention. 🙂
      I’m so excited to see your book come out!

  9. March 1, 2014 6:40 am

    Reblogged this on KRISTINA STANLEY and commented:
    For my usual Monday posts, writing is the topic. Kirsten shared this information about Scapple and I wanted to repost. I’m sailing in the Bahamas and have a great internet connection this morning, so here goes my repost even though it’s not Monday yet.

    I’ve downloaded the trial version of Scapple and the first think I like is that the 30 day trial only counts the days you use the software, so no pressure to use test the software.

    So far, I’ve done a character drawing of how my characters link together and imported it to Scrivener, and it was all very easy.
    Kirsten’s blog gives detail on the software so I’ll let you read hers instead of me repeating anything . . .

  10. March 1, 2014 6:42 am

    I hope you don’t mind I reposted this on my blog. Love to share the good information.

  11. March 21, 2014 10:28 pm

    Oooooh, that sounds like the perfect writing tool for moi!

    • March 22, 2014 8:10 pm

      Give it a try! I can see it being useful for collating other sorts of images as well.

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