I am struggling with Scapple a bit because I can’t find a way to maintain Hierachy in lists. Perhaps someone can help?

I use Scrivener and Scapple I hoped would be great to rough out ideas around plot points - which it is until I want to create some order to those ideas.

For example when working out some ideas for chapter plots I might start off throwing things down and then things will coalesce and I go okay…

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D

…These things will happen in that order. Then I want to be able to work out what will branch of that – so some more brain storming and go ah ha. And so on and so on,
Obviously there will be a “cloud” of notes to get to each of these stages and in order for everything to be readable the notes have to be at the same size.

A A1 A2
B B1 B2
C C1 C2
D D1 D2

Then of course you might go – ahh actually I need something between C and D and want to insert that in, while maintain the existing connections.

Is there a way to do this? To create an order around a set of notes. Presumably it is possible -this picture is from the app store – the rows and columns appear to be linked with a hierarchy -or you would hope so because if you wanted to make just one change to this you’d have to lay it all out again?

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 11.30.54.png

I hope that makes some semblance of sense and someone can help.


Scapple is completely freeform - as it says on the product page (and in the Mac App Store description): “There’s no built-in hierarchy at all, in fact—in Scapple, every note is equal, so you can connect them however you like.”

You can certainly arrange notes to look as though there is some sort of hierarchy, but Scapple doesn’t know of any. The whole point of writing it in the first place was to get away from the forced hierarchies of most mind-mapping software, which isn’t how my own brain works. But perhaps you would be better off with one of those, such as MindNode, if you really want to create a big hierarchy?

To be honest, I’m not entirely clear from your description on what you are trying to do, though. I use Scapple for roughing out plots at the macro (whole book) and macro (chapter and scene) scale. I make loads of random notes all over the place, connect them, move them around, until I see the necessary connections and how everything should fit together. At that point, I bring the map into Scrivener as a PDF file and work from it in a split editor to get things into a more linear order (which is what Scriv is for).

All the best,

Thanks for your reply.

I suppose another way of trying to explain it is - that I want a way of organising thoughts to then continue the roughing out.

e.g. If I make A and B happen then that takes me to C, but if D happens instead then what next?

As there are already options to stack and change backgrounds and magnetise there’s clearly an understanding that thoughts should be capable of grouping.

There’s a big difference between “forced hierarchies” and wanting to create a sequential group. I can’t, in fact, take my notes “and connect them however I like” - because I can’t connect things sequentially and maintain that.

To be clear, I like Scapple and evangelise about Scrivener. I also am not suggesting I was in any way mis-sold Scapple.

My understanding is that the goal for Scapple isn’t just to make it a giant bit of digital paper but a tool to get notes down quickly - and make connections "like a freeform text editor. Most text editors allowed numbered bullet points and making sequential connections seems like a reasonable way to order thoughts?

I guess I still don’t understand what you mean by sequential connections. You can double-click on a line to create a note in the middle of a line, splitting that line up, if that’s what you mean, but I don’t think it is. I’m just not clear on what you are expecting or wanting Scapple to do - maybe you could provide a concrete example, step-by-step?