Fiction Writing Wiki Categories

For the stories I write, I use MediaWiki to track everything about people, places, things, and events. This allows me to put in every character, no matter how minor, to track information on. Following is the categories I currently use to help sort these characters out.

Characters

The “Characters” category contains pretty much every character who’s appeared in the story and was given a name. If they are important enough to have a name, they are important enough to have their own wiki page. If they are not important enough to have their own wiki page, then maybe their scene can be tweaked a little to exclude their name.

Since this category has every character in the story, I have also have subcategories.

Primary Characters

“Primary Characters” contains all main characters. These are the characters the story follows closely.

If I have too many characters in this category, I may need to reevaluate just how primary each character is to the story. Some may actually be secondary characters. In this case, I need to look at each character primary listed as primary and ask, “Does the story follow this character (primary), or does this character help someone the story follows (secondary)?”

The nice thing about using MediaWiki is that it’s easy to move a character from one category to another: just edit the category section of their wiki page.

Secondary Characters

The “secondary” characters contains everyone who shows up a lot and supports the primary characters while not being the focus of the story itself. A few chapters may revolve around them, and may focus on them, but they are not the main focus of the story.

Family Characters

“Family” characters are tertiary characters who are related to primary and/or secondary characters. These are typically a character’s mother, father, and siblings. These are not primary characters, nor are they secondary. They are clearly tertiary, but at the same time the influence primary and/or secondary characters due to living with them, or being a part of their life.

Tertiary Characters

“Tertiary” (or “supplemental”) characters are characters who have little to no impact on the overall story. As my main character is a detective, his cases introduce him to many tertiary characters. These characters may be are primary or secondary within a case, but are supplemental to the stories they are in, and likely have no meaning in the overall story.

Ancestry Characters

Another type of tertiary character is what I categorize as an “ancestry” character. When developing a primary or secondary character, it’s not uncommon to learn about his parents, as this tells more about the character himself. Sometimes research requires learning about his grandparents and great grandparents. The latter of these may no longer be alive, and play no part in his life.

For parents, grandparents, and beyond who died a significant amount of time before the story beings (especially those who died before the primary or secondary character they relate to was born), I put these people into the “ancestry” category. They have no direct impact on the story, not even in a tertiary role. Their only importance may be when a character looks into their ancestry to learn about where they come from.

Groups

If there’s a band, or cult, or other group or organization relevant to the story, I put them in the “groups” category (but not in the parent “characters” category, as they are not individual characters). This allows me to keep track of all groups in one place.

Animals

There is also an “animals” category. Any animals appear here, and they do not appear in the parent “characters” category. Animals also appear in child categories such as “Bulls” or “Dogs” to group animals by type.

Hobbies

I use the “hobbies” category as a catch-all for “how characters spend their time doing what they enjoy”. This includes hobbies (what the like to do), abilities (super-natural powers, if applicable), and religious beliefs.

Current categories and subcategories I have under the “hobbies” category are:

  • Espers (ESP and similar powers)
  • Martial artists
    • Akido artists
    • Boxing artists
    • Fencing artists
    • Jujitsu artists
    • Karate artists
    • Kendo artists
    • Savate artists
    • Vovinam artists
  • Musicians
    • Harmonicists
    • Pianists
    • Violinists
    • Vocalists
  • Painters
  • Sculptors
  • Spiritualists
    • Catholicism followers
    • Christianity followers
    • Hindu followers
    • Islam followers
    • Judaism followers
    • Shinto followers
  • Sport players (could alternatively be called “Athletes”)
    • Baseball players
    • Basketball players
    • Golf players
    • Soccer players
    • Tennis players
    • Volleyball players
  • Writers
    • Fiction writers

With this level of categorization, I can find the answer to “Who might Jennifer see at church?” by checking the Christianity category. (Granted, not everyone who’s Christian will go to the same church Jennifer may go to, let alone to any church at all.)

Likewise, I might wonder, “Who’s up for playing baseball with Alisha?” and that can be answered by looking at everyone who’s in the baseball category. Or maybe I’d rather pick someone who doesn’t know the game to have to play it with her.

Looking in the musician category, I might be able to throw together an ad hoc band for an event, or perhaps a rivalry can begin between two people who play the same instrument.

Appearances

My story is split into chapters, most being a sub-story of its own (as the main character is a detective who goes on a different case per chapter). It’s important for me to keep track of which characters appear in which chapters.

Each case has its own wiki page with notes on the case, and each page begins with a cast section. Here is an example section:

==Cast==

===Main cast===
*{{cast|Daniel MacGuinness}}
*{{cast|Meiying Zhu}}

===Minor cast===
*{{cast|Beowulf}}
*{{cast|Semund Johansen}}

This uses a “cast” template:

<includeonly>
[[{{{1}}}]][[Category:Appearances by {{{1}}}]]
</includeonly>

This results in a visible cast list of:

Main cast [edit]
•Daniel MacGuinness
•Meiying Zhu

Minor cast [edit]
•Beowulf
•Semund Johansen

…and the following categories:

Appearances by Daniel MacGuinness
Appearances by Meiying Zhu
Appearances by Beowulf
Appearances by Semund Johansen

From Meiying’s page, all I need is to include:

[[:Category:Appearances by Meiying Zhu|Story Appearances]]

…and I have easy access to all chapters Meiying appears in.

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