Story Bible Blues

A few weeks ago I listened to a podcast on Writing Excuses about story bibles. A story bible is a place to keep all the details of your characters, locations, and events organized so that you can easily look them up later on.

For somebody like me who 1) has poor memory, and 2) is obsessive about keeping notes in a systematic way, a story bible is an excellent idea. Wikis make an obvious choice for this type of document so I tried out a few.

First, I tried the free software that the WE hosts recommended: WikidPad. At first blush, it seemed good. It was a little unfriendly for first-time users, but once I played around with it I realized how powerful it was. It was flexible, exportable, and offered excellent control. If I wanted to change the name of a character, all I had to do is change their wikiword and the new name propagated throughout the whole wiki. Nice!

Then reality set in. Turns out my iPad could only read the wiki files I stored on my Dropbox, not write to them or follow their links, and I couldn’t find an app to edit the files when mobile. Worse, I installed a copy of WikidPad on a Windows laptop I use frequently and again accessed the wiki through Dropbox. This time the Windows version re-formatted the wiki database irreversibly so that my Mac couldn’t open it at all. *sigh*

Not to be discouraged, I tried Google Sites. The pros for using Google sites are convenience, extreme ease of use, and universal access since it is stored online. That means I could read/write from my Mac, my laptop, my iPad, or even my iPhone. Sweet! Unfortunately, simplicity comes with a price. (Not price as in cash… Google’s stuff is free.) What I mean is, it wasn’t nearly as powerful as WikidPad nor did it allow me to exercise the same amount of control over my links (eg, I couldn’t make a change and have it propagate throughout the site.) More appallingly, there was no way to export the wiki if you wanted to host it elsewhere. Yikes. I didn’t want to put that much effort into something that I couldn’t pick up and move.

Finally I tried TiddlyWiki. This is a single HTML document that lets you navigate back and forth between sections via links. Looked promising, until I tried to save a test document. All I got was the following warning:

It’s not possible to save changes. Possible reasons include:
– your browser doesn’t support saving (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera all work if properly configured)
– the pathname to your TiddlyWiki file contains illegal characters
– the TiddlyWiki HTML file has been moved or renamed

That is a big TiddlyFAIL in my book (that I haven’t written yet because I’m spending so much damn time trying to find a simple app that works everywhere, lets me make the changes I need, and lets me save the documents without having to learn a bunch of code or mess with my cookies.)

So please…. if anybody has suggestions on how I might make WikidPad work across platforms, export Google Sites to other hosts, or simply save a TiddlyWiki to my hard drive, I can be reached at this blog in the comments section.

Otherwise, I guess it is back to the bulletin board.


2 thoughts on “Story Bible Blues

  1. At this point what you really need is a full-on, server-side, web-based private Wiki.

    When we set up the Ovalkwiki for Schlock Mercenary I realized this system would be perfect for managing a story bible from any device, provided I can get to the web.

    1. Howard,

      Your comment is well-timed. Thanks! I just set up a domain this morning, so maybe I’ll look into that once I’ve got everything else set up.

      PS- I LOVE Writing Excuses. Please never stop. I got hooked on Audible because of you guys, too.

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