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Wiki for Fiction Writing

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Posted by Michal
Dec 9, 2008 at 08:59 PM


Hugh wrote:
>A question and a statement for Michal:
> >- what can a wiki contribute to
>fiction-writing, other than storage of research and initial random-ish jottings?
>For the task of writing itself, even of fiction, I’d say one needs a structural
>hierarchy rather than a web, an outline rather than a wiki (even if, as in WhizFolders,
>the outline has supplementary wiki features). However, I’d be genuinely interested
>in the contrary view.
> >- I don’t think the Holy Grail in this field exists (or possibly
>any other…). Even Scrivener has its weaknesses - which is one reason its developer
>is currently undertaking a big update. (But yes, it is the best and very thoughtfully
>put together.) Of the rest, Writer’s Cafe looks good in its new version. I
>particularly like its Storylines feature, which appears to be built around
>comprehensive timelining.
> >H

Hi Hugh,

I regard differently the writing process and the final, structured manuscript ;)

I guess the best writing tool for a writer depends on the type of writer he/she is. A plotter might have a harder time (and a migraine…) dealing with a loosely-structured writing tool compared to a pantser. If you happen to write by the seat of your pants, type scenes as they come without worrying about where they will end up, and conduct your research while you write—‘cause you have no idea what you want to research until you stumble upon your next scene—than a tool with Wiki features might prove useful. Thus while you work, you’re not limited by a structure, you can link back and forth between scenes, characters, plotlines, timelines and whatever thanks to a Wiki’s ability to link between pages. In a sense, you won’t get lost—you’ll have instant access to every bit of information related to your project.

Of course, at some point you’ll have to drop scenes/chapters into their rightful place. That’s when *structure* is needed. So my “Holy Grail” must be a good outliner and have the ability to present material in a tree structure.

You pointed out using a Wiki to store research and random notes; I see a Wiki as a home for the reality/universe of your novel. Working on a long project (60-90K words), you tend to forget things… The color of John Doe’s eyes, what’s on Lora’s nightstand, and what the heck was Jessica doing when the murder took place? If you’re into paranormal stuff, what creatures inhabit your micro-cosmos and do those darn rage demons have an aversion to smoking or was it the nymphs? How much time is from Barstow to Needles, CA? Etc…
I think a Wiki is the perfect tool to create a web of interrelated information… Much more than “storage”. It could be the fabric of your living, breathing made-up universe ;)

Of course I’d love a timeline feature, you’re right about Storylines. I own Writer’s Cafe *because* of Storylines. I think SuperNoteCard can be used in a similar fashion, especially the new 2.8 version, allowing you to organize cards in rows and columns while keeping gaps.

I hope I made some sort of sense ;)