Benefits of Using a Wiki For a Series – Round II.
It’s been a while, I know. Life got in the way and I stopped posting. But I’m back and guess what? I’ve learned a lot in the time I was gone. I’m ready to share with you all. Today, we’ll tackle the benefits of using a wiki… but with all the updated knowledge that I’ve acquired. Let’s dive right in!
What is a Wiki?
First, let’s talk about what a wiki even is. I told my 9-year old that wikipedia is like “a dictionary for proper nouns” and that’s not far off.
Your book series has a lot of information that’s only relevant to the world you’ve created. You might have an expansive fantasy world or you might set your story in modern day New York. Either way, there will be little nuggets that make it yours. Could be the influential families. Could be the currencies. Creatures. Grudges. You name it, it’s yours. And a wiki is a place to keep track of all that.
Characters that come to life:
Nobody wants to read a flat character — and trust me, I get it, none of us want to write one either. The more you know about your character, the more likely they’ll be complex creations that… oh, I don’t know, take on a life of their own? Wouldn’t that be nice?
At some point, there’s just too much to keep in your head. I think of an amazing character like a puzzle. You have all these pieces: their biography, their appearance, their relationships, their likes and dislikes, their goals, their job, their group affiliations, their crushes even. You put all these together and you’ve got a real person.
But have you ever tried to see a puzzle picture just by staring at the pieces? That’s the point of using a wiki: you don’t have to. Add each piece in as you think of it and when you’re done, you can sit back and see a portrait. Swap pieces out if you need to by easily editing a detail that you choose to change later on.
It’s faster, too. Ever get halfway through a chapter and you realize that your character’s cousin is named … wait what is their name? Crap. Or did you forget if they like their coffee black or if they like it with extra cream? Can you remember if they have hazel eyes?
These things can matter. If they drink black coffee, they probably enjoy bitter flavors more than sweet ones. And if they have hazel eyes, then their siblings probably do too since it’s a dominant trait. And their cousin’s name? Did they forget… or did you? Save yourself the trouble of scrolling through dozens of chapters to find these tiny details and just stick ’em on your wiki.
Locations? Yeah, those can become pretty real too:
If you can do it with a character, you can do it with a location.
This isn’t just for fantasy writers, by the way. Sure, you can enjoy the hell out of knowing that your third-largest continent has the sixth-largest population and is covered in snow and elves. Nobody’s arguing that.
But the rest of you people, the ones using existing areas? If you can memorize the details of that area (and all areas) in your head, great! Otherwise, you’ll save time by jotting down notes, same as you do for characters. And also, your locations might exist here in the real-world but the things happening in them? Those are fictional. Bring Las Vegas to life for your characters by remembering the importance of “Fremont Street” by connecting it to an event in the third chapter that could only happen there.
Make locations such as “Robert’s House” or “the FORT”, or even “the third cell of the fourth block”. If it’s an important setting to you, you’ll want those details to be written down forever. Easy to find, hard to forget.
Don’t you forget all your lore:
Pause. Remember, it’s your world’s encyclopedia. Don’t forget the details. Who is important in the world’s history? Write it down so you don’t forget. What technology is different? What are the things that set your story’s world apart from our universe?
The more you remember about your world, the more real it becomes. It doesn’t matter if you never bring up something more than once in the actual book: knowing it helps you know your world. Knowing your world helps you know your characters and how they view it and interact with it.
The minor roles:
This is a personal thing, but I think you’ll enjoy it too. Ever need a brief character appearance? A nurse? Firefighter? Cop? I like wikis because when I use a character like this to push the plot somehow (the nurse saved Johnny Welp) I can make note of it. Later on, if I need that type of character again, I have all the details I need to bring the original back. It creates consistency in longer series.
Wikis are so simple, there’s no reason not to use ’em:
For real, the benefits of using a wiki far out weight the work you’ll be putting in. The most important thing you can do when getting started is find the wiki that works best for you. Some people prefer to use something such as DokuWiki, which is a great and very customizable wiki that you can use in whatever way you want. Others prefer to use Word or Google Drive. Also fine! My personal favorite wiki site is Mythical Unicorn, because it takes a lot of the work off my hands when it comes to organizing. With the easy flow between timeline, characters, lore, and the interconnectivity of it all, any information I add will be quick to locate or search for.
I’ve spent 40+ hours on wikis… and the amount of time I’ve saved using them is about triple that. I’m positive you won’t regret all the benefits a wiki, but I won’t promise that you won’t be cursing me for leading you down the rabbit hole.