Would a long complex worldbuilding bible in Scrivener be successful, considering that Scrivener has no wiki function?

Would a long and complex worldbuilding bible in Scrivener be successful as Scrivener has no wiki function, correct?

I am still on the fence buying Scriveners because of

  1. Will I find details about my story quickly with Scriveners if it has no wiki?
  2. Will Scrivener become slow if it has a long world building bible in the research section?

What are your recommendations to solve my problem?

Thanks to all of you in advance who give me advice.

I used it extensively as a separate project for worldbuilding and created topics for characters, locals and all the customs, measurements and etc.
Can use hyperlinks to connect files and search functions are great, can add comments and notes to files to remind you of things to do and can bookmark key worldbuilding files to have at your fingertips. I love scrivener and keep my worldbuilding separate from novel. Especially if two or more monitors can keep worldbuilding open as write story. can use quick reference panels to have file float above project for reference as well and can use icons and labels in the binder to help organize by color as well.


Technically, no.
Scrivener can handle very large projects without any issue.

It might help to know what features of a wiki you are looking for, so that we can provide some more specific advice. While you are technically correct in that Scrivener cannot be classified as a traditional wiki (few software could be), it has a lot of features that overlap with them—and a lot of features that do not strictly speaking overlap, but provide capabilities that one might use a wiki for.

One quick tip though is to go into settings, and under the Corrections tab, enable the Automatically detect [[document links]] setting, which you can read more about in the user manual PDF, under §10.1.1, under subheading Wiki Link Style. Really, that whole subsection is going to be useful reading though.

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13 posts were split to a new topic: Using Obsidian for world-building

Hi Goalie,

I see, you keep the worldbuilding seperate from the novel. But I don’t have 2 monitors or even the space at home for them. Thanks for your advice.

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Thanks! I appreciate your advice.

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Hi Amber,

Thanks for your answer. I want to find terms easily again. The name of a church, the eyecolor of a minor character, the dish that they cooked in chapter 3, and so on.

I might just remember that they cooked but not that it was porridge. If I search for “cooked” or “food”, porridge might not show up but in a wiki it could show up.

And if I write a sequel, I want to find these references for the next book.

Maybe it would help how in detail you find the details again in Scrivener or otherwise?

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I split off the tangent, about using other software, to another thread in the general software discussion board. I did see there that you are still using v1 of the software, which would greatly limit the scope of the answer—and I would concede that by and large v1 isn’t terribly good at emulating wiki functions. For one thing that setting I pointed you to doesn’t even exist, so you can’t easily create linked topics as a matter of typing.

A few years ago I wrote up a list of features that v1 users could look forward to, in this post. In reviewing that, these statements are now valid in the current version of v3.

One thing I noticed that I did not mention there is link-less referencing, which is also one of those wiki-like things Scrivener does overlap, just not in the same way. Let’s say you’ve got some text in front of you with a word, and you want to pull up any notes on that word. If it is something you’ve expanded on, then when you right-click on it you’ll get a hot link to the item that you can use to jump straight to it.

So that’s a title-based tool, for finding content that is adjacent to other keywords—I actually don’t know how a wiki would help you out with that, so I need more help from you on what that means. You say a wiki would tell you porridge was cooked, but what is the actual mechanism you are referring to that would do that, that Scrivener doesn’t do?

In my experience anyway, finding content stuff in Scrivener is way easier than in a web page running a wiki. So this is one of those things where I need your help to understand what you mean by that. I’d say that Quick Search is probably the right tool for the job though, as that would find topics using “food” in the title first, and below that list body text hits. For cases where there are a lot of matches, Project Search would do better, which is easily jumped to from Quick Search, if you recognise the tool isn’t going to help with the search.

And if I write a sequel, I want to find these references for the next book.

One thing v3 brings to the table that few other programs do is to flatten the interlinked structure between things, by providing a combined interface for listing back-links and editing them. In most tools like this, you’ll get a back-link list of some sort, usually 100% generated. Scrivener’s is a little different in that you can prune the results to be more useful over time, and add your own to the list that the algorithm missed. That’s an interesting tweak on the idea, but what’s really different about it is that below the link list is an editor frame. From a topic about the porridge you’d be able to see every scene that linked to it, or every other reference made to it with links, and view/edit the text body of those referrers. This of course also works as navigation, as in most tools, so you can jump through the link clusters of a project almost exclusively using this pane.

In fact in some of my projects, the ones that are heavily interlinked, I don’t even have the binder open most of the time, and use that bookmarking pane for a large majority of navigation, along with the aforementioned quick search to open items by topic name, or to use the results of that list to create more links.

At any rate, there are limits to how useful it is talking abstractly about what v3 can do. Why not download the 30-day demo and see if it better addresses what you’re looking for? I’d be happy to continue exploring this topic. It’s difficult though, because Scrivener actually does so much for this type of work process that it’s like answering “what does OneNote” do? Where do I even start, without ending in a novel? That’s why I’m looking for more specific things you want to do, but aren’t sure how to.


Thanks, Amber. I downloaded the v3 version to test it.

Great, here are a few other posts that might help you out, give you areas to explore. Not all of this is related to what we might refer to as wiki features, but encompasses more efficient project navigation, and demonstrating how a project can be more oriented toward note-taking than long-form writing:

  • Turning the project window into a scratch pad. This was created to demonstrate how a project window can essentially emulate all of the features the dedicated Scratch Pad feature provides—but unlike the scratch pad itself, isn’t confined to its very limited feature set.

    What I think is interesting about this is that it is an illustration of how the interface can form a conduit for how we interact with data. With the default project window, we are confronted with resources, and draft folders, formatting toolbars and by default a corkboard. With this project window we have none of that. The interface is modelled after streamlined note-taking software: a list of notes on top, text on the bottom. It gets more exciting than that though, since in the end, this has all the potential of Scrivener’s more advanced project window layouts.

  • Using Scrivener as a notepad. Funnily enough, this post was written in response to someone who felt v3 was a less useful as a note-taking tool than the prior version. This response therefore became a run-down of various techniques and tools available for that purpose, and so it remains useful outside of its original context.

  • Given your idea of having a central repository of world information that multiple projects would pull from, this post on integrating two or more projects together may be, if nothing else, worth the peace of mind that you can link to anything from anywhere, not just within projects. Note how a workflow like this would benefit from a slim and trim project window to the side of your main writing project? That’s where that notepad type layout can come in super handy.


I agree with @AmberV in that it’s not clear to me what a wiki specifically does that other methods of organization don’t. The interlinked nature of a wiki is good for jumping between related topics, but doesn’t necessarily do much to help find an initial entry point.

The other thing about wikis is that maintaining all of those links is an enormous amount of work. Justified for a massive project (with an army of volunteers) like Wikipedia, but maybe not if it’s a reference document for your own use.

Certainly it would be very easy in Scrivener to organize documents about key settings (name of a church) and characters (eye color) alongside the text of the book itself (food in chapter 3).


I’d be curious to know about that as well. The only software wiki style program for Windows I ever liked was ConnectedText. It’s the closest thing to a “real wiki” I’ve found, and has some of those things that some people probably consider a liability, but that I really like: such as having a strong distinction between edit and view mode, which means a solid basis for versioning and a kind of freedom to not worry about accidentally damaging stuff like you have in programs where everything is editable.

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Thanks, Amber, I will read these links and threads. I sure will look at v3 in details and learn about it as much as I can.

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While I am one to depend upon linking to a fairly high degree, I do in general agree with this—for how a wiki pushes linking, it can get to be a chore. With Scrivener’s model, if I detect two items in the binder that could benefit from being linked together, I can just open the Bookmarks pane and drop the other item into it, forming a two-way linkage between them—and that’s the end of it, I’m off to thinking about other things. The process of linking is extremely low-friction when you have a general-purpose “these two things matter to each other” list in the sidebar. But of course, if that textual context does exist, hardly anything changes with the mechanism! Instead of dropping the item into the Bookmarks list, I drop it into the text editor. I either get it by name, or it attached to whatever text I preselected. Again, done and dusted, and lower friction than what it takes to form a new link in most tools.

With a wiki I’d more likely have to contrive a link out of the wording somewhere, which may not always be obvious or useful. I might even have to rewrite, or add a comment purely to have a link somewhere. I’m out of flow, messing with mechanics. Sure, one can contrive standards within the content area to get a result like that, such as Wikipedia’s sidebar convention, or the category tables at the bottom of the page. These work, but what if the relationship is even fuzzier than that?

And I would say that the degree to which I depend on links is benefited by how easy they are to create in Scrivener, and how they can be created lazily, like I described above where right-clicking on any word can act as a link.

Certainly it would be very easy in Scrivener to organize documents about key settings (name of a church) and characters (eye color) alongside the text of the book itself (food in chapter 3).

And this is a very good point. Something Scrivener does through its innate design that many note-taking programs do not is outlining.

Outlining is a form of linking in and of itself. I think a lot of people know this, but maybe haven’t put it to words. Nesting an entry called “Nicole” into a folder called “Minor Characters” is a kind of two-way link between these two concepts. Likewise, another entry in that called “Enid” has a relationship with “Nicole” that is a kind of link—and in a system that lets you control the order of your notes, the spatial distance between these two notes in the list can be a kind of fuzzy link as well. We might group together minor characters from a particular plot arc without having to build additional structure to do so.

Many notetaking tools give you no control over how you order your notes, which can cause one to adopt weird protocols, such as naming schemes that start with numbers or symbols, purely to game the sorting engine. And this kind of lack of control means one must depend in more heavily upon actual, higher-friction linking and tag management.

There are of course other ways of linking things without the physical hyperlink, that wikis so depend upon. Tags (keywords in Scrivener), and other kinda of metadata form natural groupings between items no matter where they occur in the topical outline. These are not all unique to Scrivener of course (though few tools let you build your own metadata). But overall there is I would say an emphasis on not having to links, and thus using links becomes a stronger statement on top of these mechanism, something that can be used when it matters more… or not, one can aggressively link six words per paragraph if they really want. It works fine that way too!

What this comes down to is that in other tools I’ve tried, if you don’t link or tag you’re pretty much dead in the water. Don’t get me wrong, I like Obsidian and use it for some limited tasks, but I’m not going to convert twenty years of notes, many tens of thousands of them, to use their linking and tagging system. That means a huge amount of what the program offers is a blank slate to me. Backlinks? Nope, dead view. That tantalisingly cool looking network graph? A singular blob floating in an empty universe. Tags? Mostly populated by humorous false positives like HTML hex colour codes. What it does do okay is searching through a bunch of text files though—and that I have a lot of. So I have most of what it does turned off.

I never got that feeling when I used Scrivener for that purpose. I dumped about four or five years of notes, several thousand to the tune of 400,000 words, into a project and I felt like it was pretty useful without doing much it it. If I right-clicked on my bespoke ID-based link approach I got a hot link to the item using that ID in its title (anyone familiar with Zettelkasten will get what I mean by that). It only got more useful as I continued to use it, adding actual links and bookmarks and so forth.

That said, I do use Obsidian against this archive now instead of Scrivener, so take that for what it is worth. The data felt more valuable in the software, with Scrivener, but ultimately I value files on the disk that I can interact with easily over what Scrivener was giving me, for that particular purpose.

For other purposes, I use Scrivener, and value the kind of freeform canvas it gives you with regards to how you’ll link your text up. In most tools, I feel like I’m being pushed down a path the designer thinks is best, and anywhere outside of that path is a wasteland. With Scrivener, I’ll continually find new and better ways to do things, out of its multitude of small-purpose, integrated features.

We haven’t even started—that’s what I meant before. This thread could only end in a novel without some direction. :laughing:


Well, kwems, I read that author Brandon Sanderson uses a wiki to keep track of his extensive work. I don’t measure myself with him but I noticed that as much as my rather complex novel grows, as more difficult it is to remember some of details.

So, if I for example turn a term into a wiki term, it shows up in form of a link when I am writing. I don’t have to remember it because the wiki reminds me that I used the term [[porridge]] before. So, I click on it and see right away how the porridge was prepared, etc.

Most of all, I am looking for a system to remember small details.

If you can inform me about the step by step process for remembering small details that you are using in Scriveners, I would be thankful.

Well, what wiki-linking actually does is create a link to the “porridge” document, which may or may not already exist, and may or may not actually have the information you need. So the key to “remembering small details” is not the wiki (or other) linking, but the creation and content of the “porridge” document. (And the church document, and the character document … )

If you already have a “how to make porridge” document, whether your own or from a reference source, Scrivener offers lots of ways to find it. (Including, as Ioa noted, through wiki-style linking.)

Incidentally, many “big names” have paid research staff. So one thing for authors who are not yet as successful to consider is how well a potential organizing system will work if/when others need to access it.

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Hi Amber,

I checked in my v3 version for the “corrections tab” but could not find it.

I am still looking. I experimented with OneNote and Obsidian.

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