World building is a skill that needs a lot of practice and time. Creating an entire world or universe including its landscapes, language, religion, people, history, technology, culture, nature, food, fashion… is mind-boggling and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What if for your story you need to know the legal system for ‘right of ownership’ in your new world or the mating habits of a Vulgarion Badger-fly, things could soon get very complex, very fast.
Luckily for me, the world I’m creating doesn’t need me to go into a great amount of depth on all of those but that doesn’t mean I don’t need something to help me sort it all out. A tool that will help me by storing all my world building information in an easily editable and navigable way. That’s where my wiki comes in.
For those who don’t know, a wiki is a collection of connected web pages of information, such as wikipedia which is probably the most famous one. If you access the link and have a bit of a browse you can see that it is little more than pages of information, with each page linking through to other pages of information, which link through to more and more. A giant spider web of information, with each page connected to the other relevant pages.
I’m not overly technical, well not from a coding standpoint anyway so luckily the small amount of coding language you need to use, is easy to get to grips with. For example by putting a word or phrase within [[[ and ]]] you designate it as a link. If a page already exists with that tag word you will link to that page otherwise it will mark it for you as a page to be created later. You can even check to see which pages are still wanted which allows you to keep expanding your information. When you do link to an existing page it is important to check that link in case you have written contradictory information.
Using a wiki is especially useful if you think your world will be used for an entire series of novels. As you write, you build up the picture of your world/universe and how everything connects. Not to mention an easy way to search for details or ideas you may have already written about. I would suggest adding to your wiki as you write, maybe after each chapter. Just add in a few sentences of anything you may have mentioned or hinted about. After all, it’s the linking properties of using a wiki that I am finding most useful. If you mentioned that your main character had a fight in the past with someone, add it to the main character’s page and create a page for this other person and include it there as well. It only takes a few minutes.
It’s difficult for me to explain just how useful it is to create a wiki for your world building, and there are so many places that offer them for free. I use wikidot.com purely because they were pretty close to the top of the search in Google and I could set the wiki as private.
It’s also worth noting that the wiki is best used as a store of world building information. There are other tools which can help you manage the writing of the novel itself. I use Scrivener for that and although the world building information can be stored within Scrivener there is nothing to connect the information together as effectively as a wiki.
Within minutes you can be adding to your own wiki, so there really isn’t anything to stop you.
If you have any questions about using a wiki for your world building drop me a comment or email me.