Yesterday I finished the third of six short stories I’m writing for the anthology workshop I’m taking next month. It was so much fun to write! I set this one in the old West, and I had a ball both with the writing and the research. I also used this round of research as an opportunity to improve the organization of my research/reference material.
The soon-to-be-released (and soon-to-be-named!) novel has a variant of a Cù Sìth/Cú Sídhe, which is a hound from Celtic mythology. The next novel in the list contains a variant of a Hellhound. There are different, but overlapping, myths related to these dogs, and I found myself re-googling pages. Since I like dogs, it seems safe to say I’ll put another supernatural dog in a story someday. 🙂 So I started organizing my notes in a more generic way, as opposed to a story-specific way.
The next time I did any research (on Celtic holidays) I made a point of writing notes that would be easy to refer to for multiple stories. This seemed like a good approach, but when I started my latest short story I realized part of what I really wanted was my own personal wiki.
Here’s an example. I set the new short story in a saloon in the 1880s. I found a lot of fantastic articles, books, etc., but when I was in the middle of a scene and wanted to look up something like, say, what type of shoes the women in the saloon might have worn, I had so much information that it was hard to remember where to look. Sometimes the longer sources are perfect, but sometimes you just want to know that a saloon girl might have work kid boots with buttons and tassels.
I did a quick search and found several wiki packages. I liked the first one so much (TiddlyWiki) that I didn’t bother trying out any other tool. I need to use this for a while longer to make sure it’s going to work well for what I need, but so far it’s phenomenal. I can have pages with simple facts, and link to longer files on my computer if I need more details.
We’ll see how this goes, but whether I stick with this tool or not, having information organized this way was a huge help with this particular story.