Do you write fiction? If you do, you know that there are 1001 (and more) things you need to remember. Not only character names, but their personalities, their histories, and how they fit into your plot. Or how they create your plot.
Over the years, I’ve used software and various writing apps to track all the stuff involved with fiction. Last year our writers’ group spent a session discussing helpful writing apps. Can apps help you to get organized and cut down on stress when you write fiction?
They can. However (your mileage will vary) I prefer “general purpose” apps for organizing fiction rather than apps created for authors.
Although I’ve enjoyed some database-type literary apps, they never do just want I want and often are more trouble than they’re worth. Not only do I need to spend time working out how to use the app, but I also need to shoehorn everything into it.
Then I forget where I put things:
- Where does character A live? (I know I decided that character A lived close to the beach… So why can’t I find anything about his home when I use the Search function?)
- Does character B wear glasses? What color hair does he have? (Why isn’t this in the Appearance tab? I know I mentioned it somewhere…)
- How old was character C at the start of the story?
And on, and on. I’ve bought a lot of literary software over the years…
Write fiction: writing is always chaotic, but apps can help
I should mention that I still use my longterm favorite writing apps for writing fiction. I adore Scrivener, Vellum and Ulysses, and I use a bullet journal just for fiction. But I’ve found that if I try to keep all the extra info for fiction in my writing app—in Scrivener’s Research folder for example, or in a couple of Ulysses’s groups—I get overwhelmed.
For me, it’s essential to keep my research, as well as my ideas and planning, separate from the writing. Keeping a lot of extraneous info around when I write is too distracting.
To manage the 1001 details on my current novel, as well as stories and novels I’m planning, I prefer free-form kinds of apps.
Currently, I’m using Obsidian to keep and maintain everything fiction-related—even some of my writing. If I get an idea for a quick scene, I write it directly in my Fiction Obsidian vault, then copy it into Scrivener when I’m ready.
Obsidian: a perfect writers’ studio
I’ve been using Obsidian for around 18 months. It’s perfect for writers. All your files are in Markdown, which is just plain text. So even if Obsidian falls by the wayside, you’ll always be able to read and use your content.
Over the time I’ve used it, Obsidian has become ever more extendable, with many plugins, so that you can turn your content into anything you choose. You can run a business in Obsidian, or just use it to collect research, or to journal.
Obsidian has thousands of friendly users: check out the Obsidian forum and ask for help when you need it.
When I chat about the app with authors, some love it, others find it too challenging. I suggest watching some of the many “get started with Obsidian” tutorials on YouTube, especially if you’re new to Markdown.
You’ll find lots of beginners’ tutorials on YouTube, as well as videos from writers and authors who use Obsidian—and how they use it. Here’s an excellent one: Fantasy fiction writing using Obsidian.
Above: some of the plugins I’ve installed in one of my Obsidian vaults
Write fiction and keep your sanity: get organized
I’ve chatted with many fiction authors. A primary challenge for anyone who writes fiction is organization: how to keep track of all the elements of a good novel or short story, while they’re writing.
How do you organize your fiction? Do you find apps useful? Share any tips you have in the comments.
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