1. DaveLu
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    DaveLu Member

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    Where/how do you keep track of your entire fantastical world!?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by DaveLu, Dec 4, 2013.

    Sometimes, before I even start writing, I picture many places, creatures, objects, scents and flavors that I want to incorporate into my story. I've tried writing it all down in Word (listing it all bullet point style) but eventually, because I keep adding and editing things, the information gets cluttered and jumbled.

    Do you prefer to jot it all down on paper? Or some sort of special notebook? Or maybe a binder, so that you can freely insert pages where needed?

    When it comes to plotting out geographical points of my story, I plan on getting a big piece of watercolor paper or illustration board and drawing everything out (all of the mountains, the oceans, etc.)

    So what works best for you? How do you keep all of your notes organized?

    I'm just curious because I often wonder how J.R.R. Tolkein and JK Rowling kept track of their extensive worlds.
     
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  2. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I think your problem might be trying to fit in the kitchen sink before you roughed the plumbing. However, there is some value to sketching ideas, so you'll need to get more organized. An outline similar to so might help:

    • Places
      • Nation1
        • City 1
      • Nation 2
    • People
      • Human
      • Elf
    • Critters
     
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  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    manuscript...

    Best repository ever.
     
  4. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I dunno, I just kinda think it and I don't forget.
    Never had to make a list of names or places or whatever.

    I suppose a basic notepad/word file would do the trick if you need to keep track, though.
     
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  5. Threaver
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    Threaver New Member

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    I also have a large fantasy world I am I the process of creating, and I am too finding it difficult organize the massive amount of world info I have created.

    This is my first book and I becoming a little overwhelmed with organizing all the info. I would also like to know how some of you vets do it. I listed below how I am doing it so far.

    I have drawn a map in a sketch book to log geographical info and places. I use a spread sheet to list my characters and and a little bit about them. I also use a spread sheet for my differed factions and nations and list a little bit about each. I use an outline, consisting mostly of bullet points, to plot my story's progression.

    When I was first brain storming characters, I used my sketch book and would list characters and their traits and significance to the story, then draw arrows to other characters they interacted with. I found this to be helpful. I am eventually going to transfere this to a spreadsheet.
     
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  6. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I make categorized write-ups. Kind of like wiki entries if you think about it.

    Some people will say that you should spend more time writing than planning, but certain details do need to be kept on hand for the sake of consistency. I do this because I have a terrible memory, and I hate backtracking. What calibre was her gun again? Wait, was it his right or left hand that was bit off? Oh, I NEED to remember to reference the cheesecake incident when they meet at the dairy farm
     
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  7. DaveLu
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    DaveLu Member

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    Interesting! I plan on just trying different methods and seeing what works for me. But yeah, I can't get so caught up in the planning that I forget to write.
     
  8. Threaver
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    Threaver New Member

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    One of my pet peves with most fantasy novels is that most of the world feels made up by the author as he/she goes along.

    If a world is not wholly realized by the author, it seems to change to fit the needs of the story. In my opinion the rules of the fantasy world need to be adhered to strictly to maintain its believability. The hobbit and lord of the rings are, of course, examples of fantasy done right. Characters are acting in a fixed world. The chronicals of narnia is an example of the world being manipulated by the story, In order to force an allegorical theme. It feels made up as it goes along.

    I want my story to feel as though it is set in a real fantasy world. If I do not define what that world is, I will be tempted to Change it for purposes of my story, and the plot will feel more contrived.
     
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  9. DaveLu
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    DaveLu Member

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    That's a really good point!
     
  10. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    You know what is super naffy nowadays? You can make your own wiki. For free! It's the best way to keep a setting organized I've ever come across. You can make individual pages for every location, character, object, event and concept you feel is relevant in any way and link any of them to any other. Make sure to keep a master page with links to all the other pages.
     
  11. Threaver
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    Threaver New Member

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    That's a really good idea. But can you keep the content private until you finish the book.
     
  12. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    Sure, nobody's going to look at your page unless you show them.
     
  13. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I use a free program called 'Zim Desktop Wiki.' It stores all of the data locally, so you don't even have to go online.
     
  14. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I'll check that out. For me, my org tools are Freeplane (a mind map software) and a good outliner. I use Outline 4D because it seems ideal for screenplays, but any decent word processor, Open Office, Libre Office, Word, would work.
     
  15. AJC
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    AJC Active Member

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    I have a sketchpad I use to draw maps. However, I recently found out that there are map making programs that make the process a lot easier. I haven't heard of Freeplane or Zim Desktop Wiki, but they sound like they could be helpful. I will have to give them a go.
     
  16. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    Heh, I got 360 word documents all in all....with stuff cluttered everywhere...but I can still find my way to whatever I want. Plus the most vital stuff I got in my head.
    '
    And I've drawn multiple map versions.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  17. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Me brain. That's why I make sure nobody moves if I ever drop it. Oh, and there's a map, and a word doc with a few details on characters/potential characters and a brief history of the world.
     
  18. MmePlanetKIller
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    MmePlanetKIller Member

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    It's all in my head. The trick is to keep going over it so you don't forget it.
     
  19. Jessica Tilley
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    Jessica Tilley Member

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    I have many expanding envelopes that I use to organise ALL details of each novel. I have the worst memory so I need to write everything down. I'm a details person so it's not uncommon for me to have two or three expanding envelopes per novel.
     
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  20. TechnoGoth
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    TechnoGoth Member

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    Most of it I keep in my head. But I have found a word doc/wiki an incredibly useful organizational tool. Whenever I'm reviewing what I've written or have writers block I add any new concepts, characters, locations, etc... to the glossary. Then I spend a bit of time filling in information on those terms which often sparks new ideas that I can work into the book or helps clear things up so I can rework things that might have been a bit loose earlier on.

    I still need to come up with better system that builds up as I write though. Because there is nothing breaks up the flow of writing or editing making sure a detail you mentioned in passing a hundred pages ago matches up to what you're are currently working on.

    It's also helped me at the editing stage to pick up a number of continuity errors. Like have the MC be left handed in one chapter and right handed in another chapter. Or a minor character having two different names at the start and end of a chapter.
     
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  21. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    At the moment I am using SuperNoteCard. Very simple and I will probably move onto something better. But you can create cards and stacks of cards. So I have a deck called 'Characters' and a card for each one.
     
  22. MissNonscentical
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    MissNonscentical New Member

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    I just started using yWriter to keep track of everything. I love the clean layout, but find it to be very user friendly. Plus when I'm writing I can pull up my descriptions without having to go into another document. Which helps me to not loose my thoughts. Something I have a habit of doing, haha.
     
  23. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    I keep images of things that are relevant to my world (Clothing, machines, even animals) in various folders on my desktop.
     
  24. TessaT
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    TessaT Contributing Member

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    Scrivener. I can add all the folders and information and photos for reference that I want. :D
     
  25. TheApprentice
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    TheApprentice Contributing Member

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    My stories take place on earth, just changed up a little. Any changes I remember as I have a long memory. That and I get so excited about my new idea I just can't forget the details. I do change some things, which is why I spend a while thinking about it beforehand. If I start an rp or story and want to change something, I stick with the direction I'm going in, but change my future plans for the story to make it work for me.

    Just make sure you don't wind up hating your own work. It will cause others to get bored of it easily as you won't put in your best effort.
     

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