Make Novel Timelines and More with Scapple

Yesterday we sat out in 75 degree weather. This is today.
For some time now, I've been searching for timeline software to help me visualize what happens before my novel begins. I've experimented with outlines and notecards, but I wanted to keep adding events without having my document look messy. Enter Scapple.

I've heard about Scapple for some time, but hadn't taken the time to try it out. Scapple comes from the same folks that make the amazing Scrivener writing software, so I knew the program was worth a look.

Since we're having a lovely snowstorm today (three inches so far on the first of May), I decided it was a great day for Scapple.

First, I watched the brief video that shows Scapple's features, and some of the shortcuts.

Then, I tested it with a writing problem I'd encountered. I wasn't satisfied with my current chapter,
and wanted to visualize what would happen if I changed some events. This is what I came up with. I think I solved my problem, though I only used the very basic Scapple options.

Next, I tackled my timeline issues. Some of the nice things about Scapple, are that you can:
  • write notes anywhere
  • move notes around
  • connect notes with dotted lines, arrows, or contain them in boxes
  • import photos, documents, etc.
  • use color and outlines to differentiate notes
  • export notes into documents (or into Scrivener, if you use that)
Here's a portion of my timeline, which is changing as I remember new details to add and connections to make. I'm using different colors for notes and borders of notes for different characters.

I'll definitely use Scapple to map out where new chapters are heading. It's also a great tool if you're writing a short story, and want to visualize what's happening. I can imagine using Scapple for non-writing projects, too.

Later today, I'll try Scapple for fine-tuning a query letter. I have a Word document with lots of query notes, and it's confusing to sort through which lines to keep, and which aren't strong enough. I'll import the document into Scapple, which will ask if I want to make individual notes from each paragraph. Once I've got that imported, I can slide the notes around, and link together the ones I plan to use.

Scapple is free to try for 30 days. That's 30 days of actual use, so if you only use it once a week, you'll have it for 30 weeks. Check it out and see if it might make sense for you.
What do you think Scapple might do for you?

10 comments:

  1. What a neat idea. I think I will try that out. Thanks!

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  2. I've had so much fun with it today!

    ~Debbie

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  3. Very interesting - I've been procrastinating figuring out novel time issues - Now you've given me no excuse. Thanks for sharing this find.

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    1. It's really helping me figure out some things. Hope you enjoy it, Mardra!

      ~Debbie

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  4. This looks awesome! I'll have to try it. Thanks for the tip. :)

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  5. Thanks, Debbie! I love Scrivener and can't wait to check this out.

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    1. I just started another Scapple document for my plot diagram. This is more fun than I expected!

      ~Debbie

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  6. Wow, this looks helpful and fun. Thanks for the tip, Debbie!

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    Replies
    1. I keep thinking of more things to do with Scapple. I hope you like it!

      ~Debbie

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