My biggest challenge in writing epic fantasy is consistency. Spend too many months "discovery writing" anything of that scope and errors are bound to creep into the manuscript. Red hair becomes blonde. A character is from Osek-Dahm in one chapter and suddenly from Jerok Thel in a subsequent one. If you're not careful you may even forget which distant countries are at war with each other.
So I needed to find a quick and easy way to record these details and have them readily available when needed. I searched the net. I found some that had good features. I found some that had marvelous interfaces. But I didn't find one that tripped my trigger. But hey, not a problem, I'm a software developer so there was really only one choice I could make.
Write my own!
And so I did. I created Magic Muse, my very own, tailor-made, writing workbench.
All projects can be selected via a dropdown and each project can contain any number of cabinets, folders and documents displayed in the treeview on the left.
I use the treeview to add, delete and reorder chapters and scenes. Clicking a scene within the treeview opens it in the RTF (Rich Text Format) editor on the right. Each scene is saved as an RTF document that I can load into MS Word, Open Office, MS Wordpad, etc. When the book is finished, I can package its contents into a single RTF usable by those same word processors. (Handy when you want to pump out a quick eBook using Word and Calibre for proofing on the Android tablet.)
Notes can be handled in one of two ways. A cabinet can be created to hold all notes, which can also be broken down into multiple folders and documents. My preference for most notes, however, is the scribblet. That's the window attached to the bottom of the treeview and editor. There are dedicated sections for things like characters, places, glossary of terms, etc.
The scribblet is collapsible. To get items into the scribblet, I highlight the word I want to add, right-click it, and indicate which scribblet list should hold it. I can then add all the generic information about the term and save it. I can even "index" the term and Magic Muse will scan every scene and provide me with a complete list of where it was used. (This is handy if I know I referenced the minor character Terrin, but don't recall which chapters featured him.)
I can do all the basic word processing tasks in Magic Muse. And being able to quickly toggle between scenes instead of scrolling through a huge document is a massive plus for me.
In part two of this post I'll discuss additional ways I handle notes and plot lines, including my storyboard application that I, of course, wrote for myself. I call it Visual Story and will leave you with a sneak peek at it.