|One of many doodles from one of many notebooks|
I've tried various methods of organizing background material, from the simple to the complex, but ultimately, what I have is a ton of notes on scraps of paper or, if I'm lucky, in the staples single subject spiral notebooks I buy by the dozen every year at back to school time.
What that means is when I'm drafting, I have to pour through the prior books AND all my notes for world and character building pieces. Which is time consuming and frustrating.
I've recently come across a program called WikidPad which combines the notetaking abilities of wordpad with the linking capabilities of a wiki. It's not perfect, but it's been extremely useful as a repository for the Halcyone Space universe.
|The main breakdown of information|
It's taken a bit of time, but I'm slowly building up a knowledge-base for the series. I've broken it down to stories, history, characters, technology, society, and setting. If I decide I need another category, it's simple to add.
|A character page|
This is an example of a page for one of my characters. Because I have such a large cast, I need to be able to see at a glance which stories they appear in. In addition to physical descriptions, I also have snippets of key passages from the books that define or help identify each character.
Notice all the blue words. Each is a link to another part of the wiki.
|HTML view of the character example|
You can look at the information in its native view or in html view, which is a bit cleaner/prettier.
One of the limitations of WikidPad is that it doesn't integrate images into the wiki page. As you can see here, it's just text. You can add a link to an image, but it's not the same thing. Ultimately, I'd love to have that functionality.
I haven't yet explored all of what WikidPad can do, but one of the lovely things is that it can export as a single html page, so you can toss it online if you wish and access it in any browser. I will likely put it on a private page on my website, so I can access it on the fly.
It's an open source and free program and if you have a lot of information to organize in one place - especially if that information is interrelated, I highly recommend it.