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I am in the midst of writing a book. Beyond this the effort involves the creation of a universe in which the story takes place. As you can imagine keeping the workings of a universe, let alone the details of characters, deities, locations, organizations and magic strait in a single brain is a daunting task.

What I am looking for is software that will allow me to:

  • Create and identify (tag or otherwise differentiate types) entries for all (and more) of the types listed above.
  • Define/describe relationships, think of a spiderweb chart.
  • Attach a document or enter a decent 1 - 2 pages of information on each
  • Manage scenes (so if there is a "scene" artifact type which is just written text I could hypothetically re-order the scenes which would reorder the manuscript.
  • Keep version/change set information
  • Not sure if info-management is the right tag. It didn't have a description so I took a crack at adding one, its waiting for review. – James Mar 12 '14 at 17:30
  • Not exactly what you asked for, but at least related: Reference management for LibreOffice/OpenOffice? You could add your characters and other entries as references – and have all the information available from right where you write your book. Not sure about versioning, though, as I didn't use this reference-management yet. – Izzy Mar 12 '14 at 21:12
  • Have you looked at Dramatica? – Roger Mar 12 '14 at 21:37
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    Scrivener would be one of the obvious options, I would think. Seems to tick all your boxes. (Not software I have used, though, thus this is a "comment" rather than an "answer".) – Dɑvïd Mar 13 '14 at 23:43
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    I recommend Scrivener and have used the software (haven't finished anything, but nonetheless) but it is a paid solution (you didn't specify either gratis, so maybe?), so I'm hesitant to provide it as an answer. Definitely matches 4/5 boxes (not so sure about spiderweb charting or inter-document linking). You may also want to consider self-hosting a private MediaWiki instance for managing the universe's content (then as an added bonus if you do end up publishing you can have a companion wiki service as an appendix). – Julia McGuigan May 29 '14 at 21:23
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I would recommend DavidRM's The Journal which I have used for years on many different tasks than just simple online journal.

  • The Tree structure makes it easy to organize your thoughts and each entry can contain quite a large amount of text if necessary (including any graphics or tables or links).

  • You can use the ability to change the notes icon to help with workflow. Ideas are given light bulbs, something in progress might have a pencil, something requiring art might have a camera, ect.

  • You can add a link anywhere in the document, it works like a web link in a way, but links to another place in your document. This makes your spiderweb possible.

  • You can easily juggle the order of children, to get the order you expect.

  • I never gave much thought to version control. The software is still in active development, so it might be something to consider asking the developer about if you find it meets all of your other needs. It does support the ability to export the ENTIRE document as a rtf file, so you could use that for version history.

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Scrivener

Scrivener is very popular with writers, with good reason.

At $40, it's the price of three week's worth of lattes.

There are versions for PC and Mac; historically the Mac version is the first to get new features.

Create and identify (tag or otherwise differentiate types) entries for [characters, locations, organisations].

Collections allow you to keep bits of information for characters, locations, organisations, etc, grouped for each entity.

Define/describe relationships, think of a spiderweb chart.

The "research" tab in the corkboard allows you to take all sorts of information and give them arbitrary spatial relationships

Attach a document or enter a decent 1 - 2 pages of information on each

The "research" tab allows you to attach documents, media files, and so on, and associate text with them.

Manage scenes (so if there is a "scene" artifact type which is just written text I could hypothetically re-order the scenes which would reorder the manuscript.)

You can drag-and-drop scenes to re-order them: there are two different UIs for this - the corkboard and the outliner. They do the same thing, but different people prefer different presentations.

Keep version/change set information

The snapshot feature allows you to keep a series of revisions for your document.

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Have a look at the iMapping Tool.

  • You could use colors for identifying item types
  • It supports the creation of very large networks (thousands of items with typed links between them and the ability to oly thow those links on demand, in order to maintain overview)
  • You can create hierarchical maps as deep as you need (every item can have sub-items and act as a map itself)
  • You can paste Text right in the map or link external documents/files
  • You can link any item to any other item in several ways - visible or not
  • You can even have one and the same item appear in different parts of your big map (called 'equivalent items')
  • Such equivalents or copies of whole sub-maps could also be used for variations of scenes or for keeping older versions, although there is no versioning feature as such.

The iMapping Tool is in english (download here) although the website is currently german only.

Disclaimer: The iMapping Tool is developed by me.

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How about Notebook? Enlabels you to

  • create your own universes, characters, locations, items, creatures, races, religions, languages, etc.
  • give as many or as little details about each of the above
  • create family ties,
  • upload "inspirational" pictures that enable you to visualize your character?scene/artifact, etc.
  • create notes (as short or long as you choose)
  • have worldbuilding prompts
  • download your notebook.

I thought it was quite impressive, maybe it will fit what you are looking for. However, to be able to use all of its functionalities to the fullest you need to subscribe to a premium plan of 9$/month.

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