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View Full Version : How do you keep track of your world?


Tirjasdyn
02-09-2006, 03:39 AM
Sigh, this has been a problem for me.

(Before we start, yes I searched the forums, no this does not all go into my book, most of it is for my reference)

Early on in the writing of my first novel, I noticed that I was having redunancy problems and random changes that world building would fix.

So I got an index file and some index cards and started keep track of world details as they came up in my novel. This got very unweildly.

Next I moved to a three ring binder. This god really unwieldly. I checked out software but most only tracked characters, locations and some plot points. I need items, a glossary, magic systems, and few other things.

I tried creating a database in Access, which worked great until I found out Access 2000 had a bug which wasn't fix until this last version, erasing all I had. (I still had the notebook, but I lost some important notes which would have taken my story in a different direction than it has now taken, aw well).

I switched to Keynote which is great, but I got nervous when the author stopped development and support.

Besides, though it works, I have to keep notes for connecting items myself which can get tedious if you don't remember where you put them. (I still have the note book btw).

Someone suggested I use Mediawiki. It installs easy enough but setting up seems odd. I'm not really sure how to use it yet. I also found http://www.tiddlywiki.com/ which seems easier. Again I'm not sure yet. I'll have to play some more.

What do you use, if anything. I know some of you don't plot, outline or track in anyway but I need to. How do you track your world?

Hummingbird
02-10-2006, 05:10 AM
I write a paragraph for each chapter in my story. It works pretty well for me because I can read through the story quickly and figure out if someone isn't where they are supposed to be. For the things that are going on that the MC doesn't directly see I stick those in a smaller paragraph next to the first (that's if it's on paper, if in Word then I put it under the chapter paragraph in italics.)

TheIT
02-10-2006, 05:17 AM
Combination of notebooks and computer files. I also started a sketchbook for maps and to try to visualize some of the settings. Mostly it's in my head. I still haven't found a really good system.

DaveKuzminski
02-10-2006, 06:09 AM
I use a simple text file with my wordprocessor. Yes, I could use Access or write my own database, but sometimes simple is better.

When I have a story, I make a notation at the beginning of the text file labeled Characters. I then list any characters in alphabetical order as I create them. I list only the important traits that need to be remembered. If it's a multiple book storyline, I list also what books they appear in since some are minor characters who aren't always present.

A few spaces below the last character, I list Places. Same rules apply. I also list Businesses, Ships, names of animals, types of plants, products, and so forth as categories. Special cultural notes and battles are also given their own category. In other words, anything that might need to be remembered is listed. Then if I need to search for something and forget how I spelled it, I can go to the category and just scan down the list. If I remember how to spell it right, I can simply do a search for it. Either way, it takes only a few seconds to find anything.

Believe me, when you've got one 16-book serial, you wind up with a lot of information to keep straight and you need to know where you used it. So even if a ship was first mentioned in book 1, if it was also in books 3 and 4, then those are also listed. Then if a change needs to be made, I'll know which manuscripts are affected.

roach
02-11-2006, 09:00 AM
I keep my notes and research in a Word file, I categorize the information and include headers. Easy to search. I also keep a small notepad and pen next to me on the desk (I prefer the ones that have the binding at the top. On the top page I write down all the names that I'm using in my novel. That way I can glance quickly to the right when I'm typing if I forget how to spell something.

Shadow_Ferret
02-12-2006, 01:23 AM
Like the others I keep a glossary of sorts in a word file. I find that if I use the "Online" view and then turn on the character map, all the names are listed in a side window and when I click on it, it sends me to that definition.

DamaNegra
02-12-2006, 10:21 AM
I use a small notebook. That way, I can draw maps, weapons and stuff, also make diagrams and random notes about everything.

bylinebree
02-12-2006, 02:27 PM
Scratch head. Huh! Never thought of keeping a detailed database of my world, but what I'm doing does need some improvement.

My world didn't start out complicated, but it did grow in the telling and I did make a number of errors that my editor-friend caught in the first reading(she lets me get away with NOTHING, dang her)
Her: "Ah...wasn't his name 'Gareth' before and now it's ___ here?"
Me: "Oops. I will pick one."

I have some sketches of characters, clothing & maps now. Summaries of chapters and plot from my working synopsis, but those are cumbersome to refer back to for names, places, etc. So I can see now that a list or reference spreadsheet/table might have helped more, and I will probably use that for the sequel.

Thanks for the ideas, everyone. I love this place. :snoopy:

DaveKuzminski
02-12-2006, 08:35 PM
I have some sketches of characters, clothing & maps now. Summaries of chapters and plot from my working synopsis, but those are cumbersome to refer back to for names, places, etc. So I can see now that a list or reference spreadsheet/table might have helped more, and I will probably use that for the sequel.


Better do a read through and make note of everything that might be used again. Otherwise, you'll find yourself creating more conflicts in the sequel.

Also, I wish I had drawn a map for my serial. A few months ago, I discovered that I had one city located north of another after stating before that it was south, instead.

LloydBrown
02-12-2006, 09:07 PM
I keep a journal as I go. When I'm not in a writing mood, it helps me make some kind of progress on the book.

badducky
02-13-2006, 05:37 AM
I have an excellent memory. I tend to read at least three books at the same time depending on where I happen to be sitting in my apartment.


So, in my case, I am usually quite capable of remembering without notes or anything.

However, I keep my world-creation acts minimal. I hate to see the act of creating a place supersede the eyes on the ground discovering it for the first time. I make up what I need as I go, and clean it up later with virile thrashing of red ink.

And, I tend to approach world-creation minimally. I don't really need to know every name of every god... I merely need to know the ones that are involved in this corner of the planet.
I do not need to know every war and every dot on the timeline. I merely need to create the impression in my world of a shared timeline.

Focus on the story. The world can be adjusted.

Editing is not a bad thing. It's what we all do. For each line I write, I will edit that line at least 100 times before I am happy with it. With much practice, you can get much faster at editing. Editing is a good thing. You're on the right path.

Tirjasdyn
02-14-2006, 03:01 AM
I have an excellent memory. I tend to read at least three books at the same time depending on where I happen to be sitting in my apartment.


unfortunetly my book memory seems to be better than my writing memory. I can read several books at once (and I do) but the details escape me.


However, I keep my world-creation acts minimal. I hate to see the act of creating a place supersede the eyes on the ground discovering it for the first time. I make up what I need as I go, and clean it up later with virile thrashing of red ink.

I didin't start out to create a world. I create bits as I go writing down, mapping or sketching what I need to remember for the future. I've got five books planned in this world I don't want to forget things.



And, I tend to approach world-creation minimally. I don't really need to know every name of every god... I merely need to know the ones that are involved in this corner of the planet.


I do the same. I only write down what pertains to what I'm writing. Sometimes this has led to brainstorms though.


I do not need to know every war and every dot on the timeline. I merely need to create the impression in my world of a shared timeline.

ditto.


Focus on the story. The world can be adjusted.

Editing is not a bad thing. It's what we all do. For each line I write, I will edit that line at least 100 times before I am happy with it. With much practice, you can get much faster at editing. Editing is a good thing. You're on the right path.

I just need a better system for tracking what I need to keep track off, something that is portable. I wish they had portable databases in the vain of portable word processors. Lol.

The wikis, while semi portable (either available with an internet connetion or through a file of html pages) they get convoluted fast. Doesn't work for my brain pattern.