Using Scapple to plan a dungeon (or a mystery)

I’m experimenting with ways to use diagrams as a creativity tool when planning a Mystery.

My tool of choice is Scapple (from the same people who brought us Scrivener). This is really simple but intuitively usable diagramming software. It’s very much a creativity aid, rather than a display tool which explains its… optimised functionality. The limited range is actually a good discipline.

The system I hit on uses a format like this:

Mystery Diagram

In the above Murder Mystery, yellow post-its indicate clues etc, clouds, conclusions. However, this isn’t nearly layered enough. Will the system work on a more complex Mystery?

Since my WIP has a dungeon in it, and since the Fate: Core System talks in passing about how good dungeons are all about the unfolding mystery, I thought I’d have a go creating a dungeon…

First step, do the usual creative brain dump. This isn’t an intellectual exercise. This is arm waving and visualising captured on screen.

Dungeon 1


I’m still using post-its to capture factoids, clues and entities. Arrows indicate how one leads to another physically and/or intellectually.

Second step, flesh it out with attention to what’s cool, and what’s a logical requirement.

Dungeon 2

The clouds indicate thoughts, conclusions and theories arising from the clues.

Third and final step, make all this matter to the story.

Dungeon 3


Colour coding indicates where thoughts etc point to things that matter to the players. For example, goblins are notorious for their traps. It follows that knowing goblin contractors built the tomb might make you aware of the possibility of a lethal trap, hence the green thought and thing.

* * *

The next task is to try this in earnest with my Work in Progress. Eventually, I’ll tidy up the terminology and add it to my Storyteller Tools


Writer. Swordsman. CLICK TO SEE MY BOOKS !

Posted in Outlining, Writing Tips

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.