Sept. 8, 2021

My Epic Interactive Wiki Project

So, I started following this manga/anime called Ouran Host Club over the summer. I got pretty hooked on it because it's goofy and just a lot of fun with whacky, over-the-top characters that you could still kind of relate to. I like to write fanfic and came up with this idea for a future fic, but I figured I'd never write it because I can't really write anymore. My brain just disconnects if I try.

I wasn't planning on writing the story, but I had a lot of fun brainstorming the idea. I extended it out for years after the initial scene I thought of, and then, I wondered what the other characters might have been doing at that time. I kept doing that. Trying to figure out what each of the seven (yes, seven!) main characters were doing during my little scene. After that, I started backtracking to find out what they had all been doing before that. I kept going and going--both backward and forwards in time from the initial scene, and I started including side characters from canon as main characters of their own arcs because I was bored and curious what they could be up to.

Before I knew it, I had dozens of story arcs spanning at last twenty years. It turned into a lot of information to keep track of. It was also just a lot of fun.

I remembered years ago I had used this thing called TiddlyWiki to make a personal Wiki for a story idea I had. So I downloaded it again. TiddlyWiki is just a fancy HTML builder really. I mean, it's simplistic in what it can do, but in the end, it just creates an HTML page for you to host somewhere that stores all of the necessary information for the wiki. It's quite ingenious and fairly easy to use. Perfect for what I need which was to organize all the information I had created for this extended AU of the manga/anime.

I started making myself a little Wiki of that information and thought to myself wouldn't it be neat if I just wrote the stories right into the character profiles as if it were canon. Then other people could just read the Wiki and learn all the stories I came up with. And I wouldn't need to write any prose. I laughed at the idea. I was neat but too much work.

Then my doctor switched my meds in late July. Suddenly I was up at the crack of dawn every day with a clearer mind (at least for several hours each day). I had more energy for brain-needing activities like creativity and puzzles. I kept thinking about the interactive wiki idea and decided to just go for it. I never have to actually publish it, right?

So that's what I've been working on since the beginning of August. And it is a LOT of work. Wikis are normally crowd-sourced. Meaning lots of people contribute to the content, writing articles and character profiles and stuff. I'm just one person doing all of that while also making things interesting and somehow make sense with my AU idea. I also want to keep spoilers to a minimum until those facts are naturally exposed within the story. Which means figuring out how to hide information until it needs to be revealed as much as possible.

At first, I did this with multiple profile pages for each character that only revealed stuff about certain arcs (or seasons as I call them). But then I learned a new technique... how to make tabs within a page which meant redesigning all the pages I had already done. That's been a pain. I'm constantly revamping pages and have to add new content every day. I've been working daily on this for over a month and barely have a fraction of the canon characters entered. Never mind all of the original characters I've created. I'm doing those season by season but also have two seasons running at once (one about the main characters, one about some canon side characters).

Adding canon characters is hard because I either have to remember the stuff that happens to them from canon to add to their character history or make something up that makes sense and doesn't contradict canon too much. Original characters can be easier because I'm just making it up as I go, but after a while, they all start sounding the same so I have to work at making unique people. I also have a tendency to go long on their bios when they are just background characters so I'm learning to cut myself off unless the characters are important to the story.

On top of that, I have to actually add the stuff about the story. I haven't quite decided how I want to go about it. I wrote a little out last month but it jumped from sounding like part of the character profiles I already wrote to being actual prose to just being dialogue then jumping back to passive biography. It was all over the place.

This morning, something woke me around 4am. I don't remember what. I was trying to fall back asleep when my brain decided it would rather wake up and start thinking about this stuff. I think I hit on how I want to go about this. With the tab system, I now have one main profile for each character that has their canon (or pre-story) history, family info, and then tabs for each season they are in. Tabs include everything the character does that season hidden behind spoiler tags (more because they get long sometimes) along with shorter recaps and a list of major changes to their lives.

I think I've decided those tabs will just be written as if the events have happened but will be truncated with only the main details being listed. I also have links back and forth between different profiles so people can check out what the other characters in a scene are doing.

Then I decided to go back and use the season 1 profiles I already created to go into more detail for each character. This also means going back to every single profile with a season 1 page and adding a link to that page. Ugh. There will be pages for each season they're in that go into way more details than their main profile page.

On top of that, I want to do episode guides that kind of glom all the main points from the different characters together. AND if I feel up to it, and particular scene or episode could be turned into a full story or transcript which would have even more details.

I did some of this after I got up at 4:30am. I worked on one character (Haruhi if you know the show) and rewrote what I had from before in the new style. It's still too long and detailed for the main page but it's better. I'm a long writer so this is going to be a problem. I have a hard time writing anything short and to the point, so it'll be tricky to get the hang of but I can always cut stuff and/or use the longer version for the more detailed profiles.

I ended up writing over 2300 words this morning which is the most I've written since February (when I half-wrote some Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic).

Part of me knows I'll eventually get bored or overwhelmed and quit working on this. I always do. It's been a fun distraction so far, though, so it's not much of a loss if I quit. But part of me really wishes I'll finish and be able to share the wiki with other fans. It's different than anything I've seen done but not sure how much interest there really would be. Mostly it's just something novel to keep my interest until it doesn't anymore.

I'll probably mention this wiki project in my journals often, so I thought I'd write a little about in case anyone is wondering what I'm talking about.

Written by justanotherjen

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