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Personal Wikis

30 Apr

I first heard about personal wikis on the SPP. Granted this isn’t a new idea, nor is the program Sean spoke about using, but it was new to me. The guys on SPP were talking about a program called wikidpad which I subsequently downloaded and started trying to use. I will be honest, I sabotaged myself with this program at first. I thought it was HTML heavy and because of that initial misconception, I mentally blocked myself. So I downloaded two other applications for my mac, scribbleton & voodoopad. Both seemed to be great wiki programs, and I tried both thoroughly.

Voodoopad is only a trial, and at 15 links you don’t really get a good idea of what the full program will be like, so I passed on it.

Scribbleton was free all the way and was a great wiki, easy to use and as far as I could tell unlimited. The problem with scribbleton for me was the lack of allowing multiple wikis (more in a minute) and suddenly deleting my entire wiki.

Now… there were glitches with scribbleton when I used it, which could be it’s interaction with my OSX 10.6.8. Any time I tried to start a new wiki for a different book, it froze entirely, requiring me to restart my macbook pro in order to open it again. Now the sickening part. One day I woke up, started up my laptop, opened scribbleton and my wiki was gone. There were no traces of any of the wiki files. I restarted and they were still gone. So that was the end of my experience with scribbleton.

After a few days to eliminate my depression over weeks of work gone, I decided to give wikidpad a chance again even if I had to learn HTML. Opening it again I went back into the ‘getting started’ files, and suddenly realized how foolish I had been. There was no need to write in HTML, all your data is stored in plain text.

So I started building my little corner of the galaxy which my universe sits in. It was all downhill from there.Hours and hours of typing and I had rebuilt what I had lost in scribbleton and doubled the information in my wiki.

Now…the reason for a wiki is to keep your thoughts in order. Just like a fan wiki, a personal wiki allows for any information you deem important in your universe at your fingertips. Whether it makes it into the book you are currently writing or one you will write in the future, or never makes it into a book but helps you build the scenes in your mind, it’s easily accessible.

I was working on outlining my book and I could not for the life of me picture a scene where I wanted my story to go. Once I started building my wiki, that changed. Linking aspects of my universe together to make a whole picture helped immensely to construct scenes. Suddenly entire subcultures I had never envisioned sprouted into existence. I may never use them more than window dressing on a scene, but knowing the culture allowed my mind to make connections it couldn’t before.

I guess you could view it as the universe’s character. I didn’t have the universe’s character profile filled out extensively enough yet. Building a wiki allowed me to do that. It also showed me reasons why certain characters were doing things I pictured them doing. I’m not even writing yet, and the characters already have a mind of their own. So in closing thank you Jason Horman for making wikidpad open source and free for everyone, including us struggling writers.

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