TiddlyWiki – a Wonderful Planning Tool for Writers

I’ve heard a lot about the Story Bible – the place where writers keep all their notes on their story – but I’ve never made one myself, finding the idea of keeping paper in a physical Bible too overwhelming. Enter TiddlyWiki.

TiddlyWiki is an website where you can design a simple wiki, save it to a file on your desktop, and open it anywhere (yes, it does have an iOS app, though the paid version costs about four dollars.) I’ve been playing around with it a little while, and I think it’s going to prove extremely valuable in the long run.

On TiddlyWiki, you can link between entries (called Tiddlers) and format them using a unique and simple Wiki language. Here’s an example of a Tiddler I made for my new project:

ImageImageThe top image is the finished product, the bottom is the code for it. Neat, huh? You simply save the Wiki as an .html file and you can open it whenever you need to! It can even sync across to your iPhone or iPad (with the app, of course) through Dropbox!

I hope some of you find this tool to be just what you’re looking for! There’s a bit of a learning curve for the code, but trust me, it’s not that difficult. In an hour of fiddling around I’ve memorized most of the keystrokes I need!

Preparing my New Year’s Resolutions

The time for new year’s resolutions is creeping up on us faster than I can keep track of (Christmas seriously can’t be over already!), and boy do I have a few I really need to tackle! 

Write every day.

It doesn’t even have to be working on my novel, though that is of course preferred. It can just be journaling random thoughts, or even fleshing out a plot bunny (though, of course, I shan’t work on those too long!) or writing a short story.

Finish a novel draft.

I’m not asking for anything crazy like one a month, just one this year. Totally doable, but only if I can stick to one idea. That seems to be my weakness. I’ll get really into writing for a short time, have all these ideas, and ultimately write nothing because of all the ideas floating around in my head. On days when inspiration is plentiful, I can easily top 2,000 words in a few hours. 

Stick to the day’s plan.

Yes, I have a planner. No, I do not follow it. This is going to be a problem when I start college in January, since there will (hopefully and probably) be multiple pulls on my time – writing, schoolwork, extracurriculars, time with friends, and just plain time to myself. I always begin the semester using a planner, but by midterms it’s been thrown under piles of papers on my desk. My resolution is to budget my time and stick to it!

Keep up with the blog!

Mostly I don’t blog often because I can’t think of anything to blog about. Maybe that’s because I’m trying to blog every day. I think a goal of two-three posts a week is much more reasonable. 

What are your New Year’s Resolutions? Tell me in the comments!

 

Convention vs. Sophistication

Sophisticated by Dave77459 on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons License

Today in my creative writing class, we discussed the difference between sophisticated and simple or formulaic fiction.

Formulaic fiction obviously follows a formula – think Harlequin novels or James Bond. They follow this pattern because it works (and sells) well, but they aren’t books that generally have much literary merit.

On the other side of the coin, we have ‘sophisticated’ fiction, which I would probably term ‘literary,’ Sophisticated fiction goes far beyond what is conventional. The easiest way that my professor distinguishes between formulaic and sophisticated works is by asking himself whether he could see the ending coming.

In the middle of our discussion I posed this question: is it possible for a book to lie somewhere between simple and sophisticated works? Can a book have elements of both formulaic writing (like some conventional plot points) and sophisticated writing (unconventional characters, complex themes, etc.)? 

My professor said perhaps, but it would still be classified as formulaic. 

I found his answer lacking. Is everything in life that black and white? No, of course not, so why should we have a rigid dichotomy in fiction between what is and is not lacking literary merit?

Why can’t a book be conventional in some respects and unconventional in others? 

I think it can. A book can have a more predictable plot, but unpredictable and fresh characters who take the plot and deal with it in their own unique ways. A story can have a wonderful, ‘sophisticated’ message while still having bits and pieces of formulaic, ‘simple’ writing in it. 

Of course, I’m not advocating for writers to be completely unoriginal. What I’m saying is that a story can have some bits and pieces that are more conventional or cliche, as long as the author takes them and twists them in a new, fresh way. 

Stepping into social media, one toe at a time.

I realized today that I am cracking down and getting serious about my writing. I was up until one thirty this morning pinning images and writing a summary of a novel that is probably the first in a series. I haven’t fleshed out the rest of it yet, but as soon as I finish this post, you know what I’ll be doing. 

Sometime between now and the time I went to bed, I decided to try to revive my social media presence. You know what they say: “writers, start building a platform now! It doesn’t matter that you have nothing written!” I had previously decided not to worry social media until I was at least halfway through a novel, but I guess I’ve changed my mind. I joined Google + (though I have no posts yet.) I reorganized my Pinterest. I started to schedule tweets for my Twitter. Perhaps, when the time comes, I may find it necessary to extend my reach to Facebook, if I end up writing YA, and Goodreads. For now, though, I’m happy with my neat little corner of the web. 

Next comes my big problem: I have never been good at reaching out to people and creating relationships. It’s a reason I have relatively few people I call friends. Networking is seriously hard for me, even over the internet, where anonymity and casual chit-chat is the name of the game. I have met a few writers in my age group on the Go Teen Writer’s group, but I have terrible anxieties about connecting with many of them. And don’t get me started on the adult writing groups! Oy.

I guess what I need to do is just say something; anything! Or, well, anything that would be related to writing. 

Do/did you have anxieties about connecting with people? How did you overcome them? If not, do you have any advice you can spare?