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Scapple Storyboarding

Why I plot
I’m a planner. I feel better when things are planned out and all sources for potential are flushed out fully, thought of in advance, and written down so I don’t forget them. Only in a structured environment where everything that’s necessary and required is recorded for posterity does my mind feel free to roam to create something of great artistic consequence. It doesn’t matter if it’s a computer program, a musical piece, a story, or a novel. I still require order and organization to achieve my greatest level of freedom of thought for true artistry to take over.

I know there’s a whole different universe of artists, writers, and musicians who could never work within these strict confines. If they aren’t completely left alone in a chaotic world, then their freedom cannot fly. I respect that way of working on art, but I can’t live with it personally. More power to them. I don’t know how they do it and vice versa.

Storyboarding and its drawbacks
In the writing world, this inherent difference is often referred to as either being a “planner” or a “pantser” (going by the seat of your pants). Well, I am a planner, but I still have a visual and artistic mind, albeit somewhat geometrically organized. I’ve seen many fellow planners who get out Post-It notes and poster board with string to create a storyboard for their novels. It has always looked like the perfect thing for me, but there’s one problem. I’m a technology person. I don’t like posters and sticky notes and markers and mess. I like neatness and laptops and organization and the sure knowledge that my dog can’t screw up my storyboard if he decides to pee on it. So I’ve always searched for the right software to allow me to storyboard on my computer and I finally found it. Enter the wonderful world of Scapple with me (brought to you by Literature & Latte, the same folks who brought Scrivener to the world).

I’ve just started working on my third novel and have a deep-seated desire to storyboard all aspects of the book, the general plot, and each character’s arc in relationship to the general plot. I started messing around with Scapple to see if I could re-create using the software the same organization that those pen and paper plotters have been doing with Post-Its, yarn, and markers and I think I got it.

Using Scapple to Storyboard
Scapple1started by creating a separate “background” for each of the parts of the novel (Act 1, Act 2a & 2b, Act 3a & 3b). Once the parts of the story have been identified, I’ve done things the same way I would with sticky notes. For each scene/plot point, I create a yellow note. Each scene leads to another within the act with an overall story arScapple2c that goes from exposition to rising action to climax to falling action to dénouement. The best part of Scapple is that you can brainstorm your plot line before you work the individual scenes into a storyboard, then cut and paste it into your storyboard all in one place.

Scapple3Once those scenes are in place, then I add in a white note for each scene for location, a pink note for my female protagonist’s character arc, blue notes for my male protagonists’ character arc, and red notes for the relationship arc between my “couple”, green notes for specific lines I want to include for each scene, etc. I can include information I’ve saved elsewhere (for me, I save a lot of inspiration on Pinterest Boards). There is no limit to the number of notes that can be added if you want to add pictures, videos, etc., or what color coding you want to use for each purpose.


Full Storyboard with Pics from Inspiration Boards alongside

There is so much you can do with Scapple, the opportunities are limitless. This is only one way to use it. Many people use the connections between notes to brainstorm relationships and interconnectivity, etc. The only limits are what you can imagine with your mind. The ultimate plus of Scapple is the freedom it gives me to be super-creative by getting what’s in my head down on paper so I can forget it and keep building a complex and comprehensive novel. Hopefully, my book will be better and more entertaining because it’s been well-thought-out before I start to write.

Happy Plotting all you “planners” out there!

scapple, storyboarding