Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tools for Writers: WikidPad

One of many doodles from one of many notebooks

I'm currently revising book 3 in my Halcyone Space SF series and if you've ever tried to keep the details of three books in your head, you'll know that it's pretty much impossible.

I've tried various methods of organizing background material, from the simple to the complex, but ultimately, what I have is a ton of notes on scraps of paper or, if I'm lucky, in the staples single subject spiral notebooks I buy by the dozen every year at back to school time.

What that means is when I'm drafting, I have to pour through the prior books AND all my notes for world and character building pieces. Which is time consuming and frustrating.

I've recently come across a program called WikidPad which combines the notetaking abilities of wordpad with the linking capabilities of a wiki. It's not perfect, but it's been extremely useful as a repository for the Halcyone Space universe.

The main breakdown of information 

It's taken a bit of time, but I'm slowly building up a knowledge-base for the series. I've broken it down to stories, history, characters, technology, society, and setting. If I decide I need another category, it's simple to add.

A character page

This is an example of a page for one of my characters. Because I have such a large cast, I need to be able to see at a glance which stories they appear in. In addition to physical descriptions, I also have snippets of key passages from the books that define or help identify each character.

Notice all the blue words. Each is a link to another part of the wiki.

HTML view of the character example

You can look at the information in its native view or in html view, which is a bit cleaner/prettier.

One of the limitations of WikidPad is that it doesn't integrate images into the wiki page. As you can see here, it's just text. You can add a link to an image, but it's not the same thing. Ultimately, I'd love to have that functionality.

I haven't yet explored all of what WikidPad can do, but one of the lovely things is that it can export as a single html page, so you can toss it online if you wish and access it in any browser. I will likely put it on a private page on my website, so I can access it on the fly.

It's an open source and free program and if you have a lot of information to organize in one place - especially if that information is interrelated, I highly recommend it.



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