Brainstorming with Scapple

I recently took a break from my work-in-progress to play with ideas for a new series. When inspiration for a new book strikes, I’ll fill a page or two with notes and then set it aside for a while to see if still sounds like a good idea later on. (Um, not all of them do.  Some midnight epiphanies turn into steaming piles of poo in the early morning light.)  Anyway, these two separate stacks of notes kept fluttering around my desk until I noticed similarities that made me wonder if I should try to merge them together into one series instead of two. scapple_logo-256

Scapple, mind-mapping software from Literature & Latte, was the perfect tool to help me figure out whether it would work or not. Idea 1 was full of paranormal and cozy mystery elements but the MC wasn’t fleshed out. Idea 2’s MC danced around the pages twerking it up for a romantic comedy with a great hook but fell short in the plot department. I opened Scapple and started with three columns, the middle one for combining elements from Ideas 1 & 2, which I listed in the outer columns. Having all the information in one place made it easier to see which aspects could be combined and which wouldn’t fit, and to decide if it was even possible to meld everything into one single set of characters and storylines. And it worked! So with a clear new vision, I brainstormed fresh details for this future project. Here’s a screenshot of what I came up with.

Scapple Screenshot sm

The pink shape to the left of the columns is for my main character’s traits, the yellow rectangle below that is for her job and business description, a section to the right shows a few mystery details, and some random notes are sprinkled in.  Scapple is super easy to use, just double-click anywhere and type a note, which can be any length from a single word to multiple paragraphs.  Everything on the screen can be color coded and assigned different border styles. Drag notes onto background shapes to organize, or connect them with dotted lines or arrows. Whatever floats your boat, just go for it until your ideas are laid out the way you want.

Mind maps like this are a fun, effective way to brainstorm all sorts of projects. The possibilities are endless, but here are a few examples:

  • develop a character’s background, motivations, goals, and conflicts
  • work out the plot points of an intricate mystery or thriller
  • start with a what-if scenario and build a story around it
  • map out the settings in a novel
  • list a character’s exes to see which ones can show up to cause the most trouble

How do you use Scapple or other mind-mapping software?

Cover Reveal for Queen of Schnapps!

Queen of Schnapps - Tina DC Hayes- BISON PUBLISHING

TITLE: Queen of Schnapps
AUTHOR: Tina DC Hayes
PUBLISHER: Bison Publisher, LLC.
IMPRINT: Edge
RELEASE DATE: March 15th

77003-synopsis

To say Judith Webster is quirky would be an understatement . . . turns out she’s an alcoholic serial killer hell-bent on getting everything her heart desires.

She hates her job at Gas ‘N Go, but works to fund life’s necessities: gambling, eBay, and her schnapps collection. When a hunky Irish actor joins the cast of her favorite soap opera, Judith’s new goal in life is to meet and marry Evan Gallagher. Her husband will just have to deal with it.

Nobody would ever guess Judith is insane, that she duct tapes her cat inside a goldfish-shaped bed from hell, or how mad she gets when Harry Qualls struts down the street with his mailman purse. Her biggest secret, however, is the way she deals with people stupid enough to piss her off. On her shit list is a dangerous place to be, but she’s taking names.

She hasn’t been held accountable for her crimes before, but a girl can never be too careful.

Queen of Schnapps Teaser

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f4cbe-about2bthe2bauthor

Tina DC Hayes writes sassy Southern suspense. She lives down a little country road in western Kentucky with her husband and four children. A few pampered pooches and two parrots keep her company while they stand guard against writer’s block. Currently up to her elbows in diapers, she’s an expert at 4 a.m. bottle feedings and Patty Cake.

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Queen of Schnapps - Tina DC Hayes- BISON PUBLISHING

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