Nerd alert.

I recently started using a private wiki to help me organize the backstories for The Big Crunch. (I told you.) As I start to mine the world of Thanova for new strip ideas, I’m finding that having a private wiki helps me discover uncharted areas in the story and make sure the world stays consistent.

If you’ve ever used Wikipedia, you know the basic mechanics of a wiki: it’s an ever-evolving, digital encyclopedia. And in the hands of a fiction writer, it can become a boundless tome of settings, histories and character profiles to satisfy your Tolkienian lust for detail.

There are lots of ways to set up a private wiki for your storytelling. If you’re slightly versed in web development, it’s easy to host a private wiki on your own computer. Just download MediaWiki to any folder on your hard drive. Then download MAMP, which will put the MySQL and PHP heart into your Frankenstein monster.

If you’re not too programming savvy, you can host your wiki remotely so you don’t have to mess with the back-end. Either way, I recommend private wikis for anyone who wants to wrangle their disparate backstories into a coherent sci-fi or fantasy world.