So you want to build a nice detailed setting. You are ready to keep a record of everything so you review and expand your work. You’re ready to dive into this and put your world to pen, keyboard, map, and file.
This raises the question of just how you record everything.
If you’ve ever visited a fan wiki or purchased one of those “world of . . .” books that attempts to distill a novel or series of novels into a record of that universe, you know there is a lot of data. It can be a little daunting because when you want to create your setting in detail, really get into it, and you’re basically creating one of those. On your own. Along with writing your story or stories. It’s a bit daunting
What’s the best way to do it?
Well, that’s actually several questions. So let’s get to them.
The first question is just how are you going to store all of this information? There are a wealth of opportunities out there from text files to full wikis which is really great until you have to actually make a choice. Then it gets kind of confusing.
Really the best option is to find what works for you. Here’s the usual things I see:
Reasons to use text files:
Reason not to use text files:
Word Processors give us the advantage of having, well, all the word processor tools available. Advanced search and replace, formatting, word counts, and so on. Some of them are pretty powerful to the level of “most people don’t use 80% of this stuff.” They’re even compatible with each other to an extent, though I haven’t found this very reliable.
The advantages here are:
The disadvantages are:
This requires a little work on your part, be it setting up the wiki or installing the actual software. Wikis however are powerful for the obvious reason that they let you store search, and link everything. As I mentioned earlier, a fan wiki is often an example of the sheer power of recording world information in a wiki.
Why go wiki?
Other Writing Tools
Any aspiring writer can find a legion of other writing tools to help you craft your next tale. If you subscribe to any magazines, vsit any writer website, and so on you’re probably more than familiar with them due to all the adds you see. TOobe honest, I’m not too hot on these as they seem specialized, work only certain ways, and frankly are kind of pricey. I don’t like the idea of paying money to think like someone else. However . .
Why get these writing tools:
So as you may guess, I’m not up on these writing tools.
Finally, you may just use a fusion solution – use several tools. This is my approach, where I usually do all my basics in a text editor and then use fancier stuff as needed.
So there’s your options as I see them. Once you pick one (or more), the next question becomes “just what do I record from my world and how do I do it?”
So you’ve picked a method to record your world’s information. What exactly are you going to store in the first place?
Now if you’ve decided to use some specialized software it may limit and/or enable certain ways of recording information. I’m going to assume you’ve elected a more freeform solution. That freeform soluion however means you have to choose what to write down/type up/design to track all of this stuff.
I’ve found the best way to do this is to do a few things:
You are never going to design the perfect archive for your great worldbuilding because you’ll only learn what you need by doing it – but you can give yourself a pretty good start by seeing how others do it, get some basic forms, and go for it.
Myself, I was most influenced by roleplaying games, writer’s groups (who often involved character profiles following some common patterns), and fan resource books. Some of it’s worked for me for years (some of course, changed).
In the end, I think of #1 as the most important rule of all. Accessibility is important to any record of worldbuilding, and keeping the right perspective ensures that what you design and record is something you can use – since you’re thinking of it being used by others. That acts as a good guide to doing this right – and a way to know when you’re doing it wrong.
Good luck with recording your world. In fact, as a final suggestion . . . share what you learn with others. Share your preferred methods, templates, and ideas. You’ll help others and maybe learn a few things.
A bit like I have . . .
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/.
Post Tags: editors information recordkeeping wiki word processors worldbuilding