Keep Track of Your Characters with a Wiki

I’m sure that everyone is familiar with Wikipedia. Everyone has visited Wikipedia at some time or another looking for some small piece of information, only to emerge hours later after reading through one wikipage after another. This is because the pages on Wikipedia are interconnected. For example, one minute I could be reading about the French Foreign Legion and a couple minutes later I could be reading about Abbot and Costello because they made a film about the FFL.

Now imagine that instead of pages about pages about the comedy greats, World War II, and ISIS, Wikipedia had pages dedicated to the characters and places in your stories. It can happen.

Recently, I was visiting a tech website and on this website there was a question about what software each writer used. One person recommended using a wiki for world building. I took this idea and tried it for myself. It worked great.

I tested several personal wikis programs and the best one I found was TiddlyWiki. TiddlyWiki is free and will run on any operating system, whether you have Windows, Mac, or Linux. You don’t need any special software to run it. All you need is a browser, no extra software. It is very quick and everything is listed on one long page, which you can navigate with links.

I used TiddlyWiki to create a wiki for my noir detective, Benny Cahill. You can see a screenshot above. It may look rough because it is. Right now, a short story is keeping me busy, but as soon as I am done, I will finish this wiki. Even in its rough state, you can see the direction it is headed. I will create a separate section or tiddly for each character, location, and story. It will take some time, but when I’m done it will be very easy to keep track of my character and the locations I use. It will also enable me to become just a little more organized.

If you have Dropbox or another cloud backup system in place (like Copy or iCloud), you can make sure that your TiddlyWiki does not get lost if you computer crashes.

Please let me know in the comments below if you have used a wiki for your stories or if this idea is helpful for you.

P.S. I just made my new collection of saint biographies, Church Triumphant: 25 Men and Women who Gave Their Lives to Christ, available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. If you buy it now, it will be available to read on Easter Sunday. Thanks.

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John Paul WohlscheidBesides Church Triumphant, John Paul Wohlscheid is the author of Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth and Trouble is My Client. Both feature a hard-boiled detective in the tradition of old-time radio shows. The author blogs at Writer’s Soapbox.

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