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Steven J. Mepham

Writing any novel is a daunting and mammoth undertaking which requires many hours of dedication and a truckload of patience. I have lost count how many times I have read back a chapter or a scene only for there to be something wrong.

As a writer of high fantasy, my world building is paramount. To understand the actions of any character, we much comprehend their motives, and to comprehend them we need to understand the rules of the world. If I am honest, I have lost count of the copious number of notes that I have created during world building for The Evoker. But I have found some tools along the way that have helped me collate and organise them.

Scrivener is my go-to piece of software for writing. Available on both the Mac and PC (Though Scrivener 3 for Windows is still in active development) Scrivener contains a host of organisation, editing and writing tools. The bulk of my writing is done in Scrivener these days, as overall it is far more stable and efficient than Microsoft Word. Its ability to move any chapter or section as required is invaluable.

For notes and world building, scrivener acts as an organised repository for any notes. Its duel view allows for reference to notes while writing, and switching between sections within is easy. The only drawback to Scrivener is that it takes quite a lot of time to get to grips with its capabilities. Often when you need to do something, finding out how can be a daunting task (though Mr.Google is an excellent help) In essence, Scrivener’s flaw is in its range of tools which take quite a bit of time to get to grips with. However, once you do have a grasp of its functions, it becomes a stable and powerful tool that can help make even the largest projects manageable.

Campfire was a recent discovery for me and it proved to be invaluable for world building. Available on both Mac and PC, Campfire offers a suit of worldbuilding tools to help get to grips with the characters, their relationships and the world itself. Its timeline and locations feature help to set the boundaries of the world you are building, while the Relationships feature allows for delving into the backstory and interconnections between your characters and is fully customisable.

However, there is a caveat to Campfire, in that it is exceedingly difficult to transpose the data and notes you create in Campfire to other formats and while a lot of the features are great, there are some restrictions that seem like an oversight on the developers front. Furthermore, the company has recently announced the development of a new platform Blaize, which will incorporate the elements of Campfire into a new subscription-based software that will be accessible only in the cloud.

Having reflected on the issues I faced when using Campfire, I feel the source of these are oversights and a penchant to release early or move onto other projects before the current one has completed.

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