Worldbuilding while writing something, for me, is very much like building the plane while flying it. It’s terrifying, and ill-advised, and a situation where, at the very least, you really need to be keeping really excellent track of what you have or have not done lest you miss a Very Important Step and wind up crashing and burning.
For the world of Aerdh, where my other novels are set, worldbuild, and then I write. It’s a very clean, linear process. Tidy. Orderly. I have a separate Scivener file that is solely for Aerdh worldbuilding.
So. I’m drafting The Analog System in Scrivener, which looks like this:
I started with the intent of worldbuilding in the same Scrivener file as I was writing in. That’s what I do for short stories; I just create a little research folder outside the main draft and stick ideas and outlines and other shit in there as needed. It works great!
But it didn’t work great for The Analog System. Maybe it was a matter of scale. It got unwieldy moving back and forth within the same big document like that around Chapter 4.
I realized I needed something quicker, something external, where I could keep my notes (in digital format), where I could pull them up and refer to them without losing my place in the current draft of the actual story. BUT it had to be a program that had a lot of organizational potential because I like to fiddle with my notes a lot when I’m stuck, categorizing them and recategorizing them and adding to them, etc., as a way to un-stick my mind. AND it had to have the capacity to work offline since I’d need to add to the notes and things while writing on the bus.
Evernote. Evernote totally fulfills all these criteria.
I am just barely off track word-count wise right now in NaNo, and I can pretty much credit Evernote and some awesome writing buddies to that fact. Without Evernote, I’d be searching through my draft for a bunch of names and descriptions. Evernote is totally the backend of my book right now and it is working so well. For me, it looks like this:
I’ve got a bunch of Analog System – related notebooks stuck in a notebook stack: one for character sheets, one for plotting, one for research (yay, webclipper!), one for worldbuilding notes, and one for notes on revisions*.
A LOT of my backstory is in Evernote right now instead of the book’s draft, which is a good thing! There’s still way too much exposition in the book, but that means there’s even less to cut in the revisions.
As always, do what works for you, but the two-fer of Scrivener and Evernote is really working for me right now.
*Yeah, already planning for the revision.