Updated: Nov 14, 2019
One of these three worldbuilding apps should be an essential part of any fantasy/sci-fi writer's toolkit.
If you're a writer of fantasy or sci-fi or, like me, just need a world for your spoiled princes and powerful kings to fight over, you're going to need to build that sucker from scratch. It sounds daunting, and... well, it is.
There's a lot to keep track of: characters and familial structures, places and maps, histories, key objects (a.k.a. plot devices), concepts, laws and peoples--as well as some things you might not think about at first, like what the economy is like in certain parts of your world, and which unique creatures dwell there. I even like to draw floor plans for my palaces.
Which is why these apps (and the websites I'll show you later this week) should be key players in your worldbuilding toolkit, to turn a daunting task not only no-so-daunting, but actually a lot of fun.
World Scribe is used for just what it implies: creating worlds for your story and keeping track of its details, interconnecting those details as needed, to give you a comprehensive "3D" view of your world. Here's how it works:
1. Create your brand-new world at the initial world-creation screen. If you create multiple worlds, the app will open onto the last edited, with an option to add new or switch to others at the top.
2. Each world will have sections for People, Groups (think ethnic, religious, societal, etc.), Places, Items (think the One Ring, the Necronomicon, etc.), and Concepts. Each section will have its own items list--this is your list of characters (I've only created the one to use for this example).
3. Click on an item (or in this case, a name) to display and/or add details. Places to add specific details, such as memberships and residences, are provided, as well as a "snippets" section at the bottom where you can add whatever other details you need to.
4. This is your list of groups. Adding details to items here, as well as in any other section, is done the same way as it is for characters. (I've used different colors for each section to show you your choice of colors--the entire app will display in whichever color you choose.)
5. The detail screens for groups, as with all sections, are laid out the same as they are for characters. The photo you choose for each item will always display at the top, and each detail can be expanded and collapsed as needed. (No need to keep the photo in your phone's gallery once it is added.)
6. Screen for adding members to a particular group. This can also be done the other way around (via the memberships section in any character's detail screen, as opposed to via the members section in the group detail screen, as in this example). Once it is added via one detail screen, the link will display on both detail screens. It works the same way when any link is made between any two items in your world--no need to enter the same link between the same two items multiple times.
7. Group detail screen with the link added. (See photo 12 to see how that same link, automatically added when the link is created the first time, displays in the character details.)
8. This is your list of places. Navgate it, add to it and create links within it as you would any other.
9. Place detail screen; 10. Screen for adding connections between a place and a group, linking them in both sections; and 11. Place detail screen with the link added.
12. Character detail screen with link from photo 7 added; and 13. & 14. Two color choices not used in above examples. Add and link items and concepts as you would any other item in your world.
Character Story Planner is used primarily as just that: a character creator and story planner. But it can also be used in a similar way as World Scribe to create entire worlds, keeping track of its details and connections.
1. A slide-in side menu can be used to add items, or the horizontal menu near the top can used for the same. There are sections on both for Characters, Worlds, Stories, Scenes, Locations and Items.
2. Add character details, including a photo, via the character section. Each character's details are divided into Basic, Appearance, Life, Attitude (personality), Past, Story and Relation subsections. Also, secondary details can be added to each detail and shown or hidden as needed.
3. This is your list of characters; similar lists will appear in the World, Story, Scene, Location and Item sections.
4. You can choose which basic details show in the main list view (options for characters are nickname, world, image, age, gender, and occupation). Toggling on custom font will do just that in certain places; toggling it off will cause the app to display exclusively in whatever font is set in your phone.
5. Character detail screen, showing only the details you have filled out, to cut down on screen clutter. If a detail is not important to you, just leave it blank, and it won't show up here. Details can be edited using the pencil icon on the top right, or...
6. ...details and secondary details can be edited directly from the detail screen by clicking on them. All other sections are added to and edited just like the characters section, each also divided up into subsections to organize, keep track of and link any and all details you find important..
7. Unlike with World Scribe, you have to keep the photos you use in your phone's gallery--if you delete or move them, the next time you open the app the photo will be missing. It can be a tiny inconvenience, but not really a big deal.
8.-13. Alternate colors available in the premium version ($3.99), but I'll tell you a secret: it's really not necessary to go premium. It doesn't change much except this one aesthetic detail and a couple other very minor features you can totally live without.
Character Story Planner 2 is a newer version of Character Story Planner. I've included them both because they're both still receiving regular updates by the admins, so both work just as well. It really only comes down to which aesthetic you like better.
1. Main Projects list
2. Open up a project, and you'll see the Characters menu, where you can add Characters, Relations and Groups. Like CSP, each item's details are divided into subsections (for example: Basic, Physique, Life, Attitude, Past, Story and Photo for characters).
3. Character creation and template selection screen. Each section has a default template, but you can custom-create templates as well (see photo 14).
4. Character detail edit screen. Unlike CSP, CSP2 does not have separate detail edit and view screens.
5. This is your list of characters; similar lists will appear in the Relation and Group subsections and in each subsection of the World and Story sections.
6. Character image gallery. (No need to keep the photos in your phone's gallery once they're added.)
7. Full-size image view.
8. Relationship creation screen, with subsections for Relation Status and View (for describing each person's view on the relationship); 9. List of relationships; 10. Relationship photo gallery; and 11. Full-size image view (all very similar to the character section, as are all sections).
12. World menu (for adding details on Places, Races, Items, Creatures, Flora and Deities); 13. Story menu (for adding details on Timeline, Scenes and excerpts of Script); 14. List of templates. Each section has a default, but custom templates can be added to use instead; and 15. Community menu for shared projects or for importing/exporting data from other sources.
It's really only necessary to download one of these apps--using two or all three would be redundant, as they all so thoroughly cover everything you need to think about while building your world, that they would all contain essentially the same information.
Try each one out and decide which is the best fit for you. All three are free to download and free to use.
Do you have an ever-growing list of characters with familial alliances and rivalries to keep track straight? Tomorrow, I'll show you the best family tree app I've found to help you do just that.
These are all apps I've used extensively and can personally vouch for. Hit me up if you have a suggestion for other great worldbuilding apps, and I'll write about them here!