Software for world building?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Black Dragon, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    As a fantasy writer, one of the most rewarding things is populating your new world with races and cultures. As the world grows larger, keeping track of your creations can become more challenging.

    Can anyone recommend some good software for this purpose? I've been using a word document for this, but it's becoming unwieldy.

    Also, can anyone recommend map making software?

    Thanks.
     
  2. kjjcarpenter

    kjjcarpenter Master

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    There are none that I know of personally, Antonio. I've been at it for almost five years now, and yes, the note piles get increasingly bigger and continuously unorganised as you go along—although I suppose for you i should supplement the term "note piles" for word document. Call me paranoid, but I think any compilation of ideas on the computer is risky, I stick to exercise books and paper. Technology is too unreliable for me. Don't let that discourage you though.

    What I see as the best way for your world building is to buy an A4 folder with plastic sleeves, and make each sleeve something different. Characters, Places, Religions, etc. I guess this falls under do what I say, not what I do, mine are just piled into a plastic crate for resource, haha!

    As for map making, I'm not sure on software, but it wouldn't give you the result you want anyway. Follow this link: http://www.brodt.dk/peter/maps.html I found this guide years ago and used it for a map I made for a role play many years ago; it provided fairly decent results. It's time consuming, but you will be proud of your work once completed.

    Hope this help. :)
     
  3. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    My paranoia has taken me in a different direction. When I was growing up my father shared a cautionary tale. A former colleague had spent over a decade in graduate school, but never finished his Ph.D. This fellow had spent years laboring over his dissertation, and had accumulated countless binders full of research. Moreover, the dissertation itself was nearly 3/4 written. But then disaster struck, and his house burned to the ground.

    This was back in the days before desktop computers, or even word-processors. Only one copy of his dissertation existed, and it was gone. He could never muster the will to start again, understandably.

    When I started writing my first book, I took this story heart. Every day I saved the document to my hard drive and to a CD. With each completed section, I emailed it to myself and stored it on a mail server. And once a month I burned another copy to CD and mailed it to my parent's house. My goal was to always have a copy of the manuscript stored digitally in three separate geographic locations.

    And JUST IN CASE the technological apocalypse came and computers vanished from the earth, I printed each completed section and stored it on my bookshelf. Thankfully the worst never happened, and the book was finished without incident.

    These days I'm a bit more laid back, albeit only slightly. At the end of each day I email a copy of my work to a gmail account for storage. I then keep another copy in a folder on Dropbox.com, so it is automatically synchronized across my two computers. And finally, still in anticipation of the apocalypse, I print copies of each chapter and store them in my office at the university. You never know... Road Warrior could be a prophetic warning from the future. ;)
     
  4. kjjcarpenter

    kjjcarpenter Master

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    Now that is a tragic story for the ages. I remember after I finished the first draft of my novel my laptop died. Luckily I had sent a copy to my friend to have a read through weeks before—he never touched the thing—and saved me from pulling out my hair, more than I already was. There were missing parts I needed to fill in, but it was doable. I could imagine this colleague's experience would trample my little tale. One can only imagine the feelings that encompassed him at the time, and even to this day.

    In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to worry about all these setbacks. But it's a harsh truth, isn't it? You've give me a good idea about transferring my notes to a gmail account, though. Probably the smartest suggestion I've heard thus far—sounds more appealing than the plastic crate sitting under my bed. The only problem I have with the internet is, well, it's the internet. Although extremely unlikely, the fear of my material being stolen always looms in the back of my mind.

    Also, I assume both yourself and Antonio are professors? Makes me feel very amateur! Haha.
     
  5. Greybeard

    Greybeard Master

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    Thank you for directing us to this guide. It looks like a workable process.

    Have you heard of Autorealm? I toyed with it a year ago, but didn't get far. It has promise.
     
  6. kjjcarpenter

    kjjcarpenter Master

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    Had a look at AutoREALM. Looked interesting. I'm sure if you wanted to get a basic map across, this program could assist you in doing that, maybe for your own referencing purposes. Doesn't look like there's much detail though, and it seems fairly choppy. But for a free program it does it's job.

    In saying that, I'm terrible at drawing maps for cities. Although I don't think I will ever go into exact detail with a city's layout, leaving it more to imagination, AutoREALM seems to do that nicely. If I ever decide to map out a city, I will definitely consider using it.

    Nice find!
     
  7. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    Thanks for the recommendations, guys. While searching on this subject I came across a program called Campaign Cartographer. It isn't free like Autorealm, but it does look promising. Check out this review:

    Campaign Cartographer 3
     
  8. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    Actually, I am Antonio. I was using the "antonio" account for testing, and was still up in the air about which moniker to use on the forum.

    Antonio del Drago is my pen name, and also the name that I use for fencing in the Society for Creative Anachronism. I will continue using this writing articles.

    On the other hand, Black Dragon has been a moniker that I've used on forums since the early 90's. Back then I ran a dial-up BBS called Realm of the Dragon's Eye which was very successful for it's time. So when I started this forum, I couldn't resist using my old name. I guess nostalgia has won out, since I can't bring myself to stop using it.

    In order to clear up any confusion, I've merged both accounts into Black Dragon.

    And yes, we're both college professors. ;)
     
  9. kjjcarpenter

    kjjcarpenter Master

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    Campaign Cartographer is definitely a step up from AutoREALM, but for that price I think I might pass on it and go with a more traditional approach of creating maps by hand. CC doesn't have the look I want from a map; doesn't have that organic feeling I love about Tolkien's maps. Too digital for me—once again with my loathing for technology. Still a very nice program for someone willing to spend the money and the time learning how to use it. If anyone ends up purchasing it, definitely leave your own review, I'd love to hear another impression.

    And thank you for clearing up that, BD! I must say you have a very refined pen name. I took a lazy approach to mine, it is merely the user name you see here: KJJ Carpenter. Somewhat boring compared to yours! I applaud you for that.
     
  10. Legerdemain

    Legerdemain Lore Master

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    Ha ha! Tony, your avatar is now it's own entity! Beware the creation of the creator! Oh, and I have not found any good software other than a printer and hardcopy backups. I HATE this method though.
     
  11. Seth

    Seth New Member

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    I'm using Evernote for all my writing needs - it's quite handy, or at least I like it. It's a note-taking program which allows you to organize all your notes in different folders, you can also paste images / html into notes as well. Very easy to navigate, and you can synch your notes online as well so no fear of hdd failure devouring your creation.

    It costs like 20$ or something, but there's also a free version which is exactly the same as full version but has a limit of like 30mb/week that you can upload with synch or something - never was a problem for me since I only use text and some lowres jpgs for my writing anyway.
     
    Erimeh likes this.
  12. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    Hi Seth,

    Welcome to Mythic Scribes! I second your recommendation for Evernote, although I haven't been using it for this specific purpose.

    Rather, I've been using Evernote to keep track of story ideas, revisions notes as well as possible topics for articles. It's wonderful how it synchronizes between computers. I also use it on my Ipod Touch.

    What sort of projects have you been using it for? Novel, stories?
     
  13. Seth

    Seth New Member

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    Hi back at you!

    Been googling around the web, saw a forum post that got my curiosity, and here I am... :p

    Pretty much all my writing, really. The novel I'm working on currently has a folder of its own, another folder for my exercises, general stuff that needs writing down like shopping lists and obscure song names I don't want to forget is in yet another one, a few folders for random works in progress and translation things I do, etc. The fact that it's all accessible from my mobile as well makes it all the better, and it's really tons more convenient than trying to sift through 3478347 word documents or, god forbid, paper folders - at least for me.

    Would definitely suggest it to anyone who does any kind of writing at all, diaries / blogging, journalism, novel writing - anything really; especially if you've got a smartphone or a web-enabled laptop that you carry around as well.
     
  14. Dwarven Gold

    Dwarven Gold Master

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    Evernote note can be useful. But I thought the Iphone interface was confusing.
     
  15. Mythos

    Mythos Lore Master

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  16. Hans

    Hans Mystagogue

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    For the most part I use simple TeX files. Easy to edit and to search.

    To organize the history of my world I wrote my own program. I know of a few people other than me, that used it, but I never got any feedback. So I guess it's not useful for anyone but me. I still find it very useful, but I have a strange view on software anyway.
     
  17. Derin

    Derin Lore Master

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    Myrrdin said they used tiddlywiki as a note organisation tool for worldbuilding a few days ago. I normally practice the "nearest scrap piece of paper" method of note organisation, but I gotta say this program is pretty good. It'll be great when I learn to use the damn thing properly.
     
  18. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

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    I use a program called Hexmapper from time to time. It can be a good deal of fun, and has a bunch of features that I haven't really explored.
     
  19. Neseri

    Neseri New Member

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    I haven't tried it myself by I hear that Scrivener is a great way to organize things like this. They have had a Mac client for awhile now and I believe the Windows client is very close to release. I use PageFour, which is has significantly fewer features than Scrivener, but also has a free version as well as a paid version.
     
  20. myrddin173

    myrddin173 Scribal Lord

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    I'm looking at that Hexmapper program right now and I must say, I am very intrigued
     
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