MediaWiki.org, where have you been all my life?

Why, here, of course. On the internet and easily accessible. Anyone familiar with Wikipedia is probably familiar with MediaWiki. The layouts appear similar and the coding is all the same. If you check the website for MediaWiki, it’ll tell you it’s based on a free, open source, software package written in PHP and designed for Wikipedia.

Now why am I talking about this interesting, highly editable type of PHP? Simple. It’s easier to utilize for world building than flushing out templates in Scrivener. My main problem with the program stems from an overabundance of character pages. When there’s more than a few it can be hard to write while navigating between characters. Since I’m the type of writer that enjoys constructing character pages with more than a name, a quick background, and plot outlines, this wasn’t going to do.

My character pages involve an insane amount of detail about their lives from childhood to where they are at the introduction of my story. I may throw in pictures for inspiration if they are similar to a model/actor/singer or someone I know. Accessories have occasionally popped up for the sake of inspiration if they’re vital to my premise. Sometimes I’ll even throw in scene ideas at the base of their profile page to retrieve later.

The amount of information I drop into Scrivener is a little overwhelming when I go back to review it as I’m writing. There’s a bit of apprehension when I’m scrolling all over the place and it causes me to lose my focus.That sets me back quite a ways. Now, don’t get me wrong, Scrivener is absolutely amazing, but sometimes it’s not aesthetically appealing and as clean as I prefer an interface to be.

I’ll admit I didn’t install it myself because I was confused beyond words over the process, especially on an internal server. (Did I mention I’m a nervous Nelly about my stories? That’s a story for another day.) After it was all set up and ready to go, there was a brief run through of MediaWiki’s basic code structure before I was permitted to cut loose on it. The first day was full of frustration trying to remember how to bold, use italic tags, or make headers. The second day I was using Google to show me how to align pictures to one side or the other and how to adjust their size automatically. The third day I spent researching how to make collapsible Spoiler tags to hide information from my betas when I shared screen caps of my progress. On and on the list went as I proceeded to learn the art of editing MediaWiki.

Only a few days in and I breeze through everything as if it was second nature. And by now it really is. Not only can I introduce character pages, but MediaWiki makes it possible to create categories and galleries. I can expand on a concept and have it link, like a real Wikipedia page, to another category topic or page.

For example:

Snapshot of Piraeus 000

This is a blurred screen cap (sorry!) of one of my science fiction story pages. I’ve detailed out some of the planet’s geography and native species. It may not look like much due to the blurs, but you can see it resembles Wikipedia’s generic detail pages.

If you follow any sort of show or book, you’ll recognize the layout is on par with those fandom Wiki sites. As I mentioned before, I prefer a clean style rather than something overly elaborate. Therefore when I chose this method, I stayed true to the generic template of white and blue.

Here’s another screen cap:

Paragon CategoryThis is for the category of stories I intend to publish. Specifically my WIP Paragon series. To avoid spoilers, some names and places are blurred. Can’t have everything getting out at once! While it may not seen abundant due to the few items listed, I can assure you each page is heavily laden with information pertaining to said person/place/item it represents.

Navigating the MediaWiki page is far easier than I ever imagined. It suits my needs to only have one browser open at a time as I tend to link pages together for simplicity. Links are generated with [[ & ]] tags rather than a web URL. The trick I was taught was to just make [[PageName]] and go one. It’ll turn red, as I’ve shown here, and create a page for it when you open the link. You can preview an earlier shot of the character list for my Paragon series to see the similarities.

Headers

Isn’t it fascinating? I’m rather enthusiastic about this method of world building now that I have most of it populated. Bring on Camp NaNo’s April adventure!

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