Hello Gnorr; I don’t think there is any united body that has come together to share what best practices are. Instead for writers there is in my experience a hodgepodge of solutions centered around a writer’s individual needs. Then writers share what they used that best helped them and we can take what we need and throw away what we don’t.
On the most basic and powerful level most writers are simply utilizing an:
- ==organization structure== or framework of their choice (popular choice being IMF and PARA)
- combined with ==linking notes==
- ==tags== (which are used for statistic trackers)
- ==templating== for making Scenes and data inputting easy,
- and ==plugins== or ==custom-code**==.**
Org. Structure / Linking / Tags
If they are using Obsidian to plot events then they might have a folder for plots with each plot event, and/or a single file containing plots as an ‘index’ with those plot events linked.
If they are using it to replace Scrivener, Ulysses Writing App, or some other distraction free writing tool. Then the process is similar. Except instead of plot events, they’re tracking each scene in it’s own file, linked to previous scenes. Scenes are then organized based on the Organization structure that the writer chose.
They also may utilize Obsidian as a Story Bible or Knowledgebase for their knowledge, and this follows the same structure of what the majority appear to be using it for, just for writers, it’s filled with all writing topics.
This same technique can be easily retrofitted for your time and location tracking request. You just need to decide your organization structure. For example, create an index containing a timeline of events, and then add events to that timeline as links, and then add your tags. Do the same with place and location. Then create your scenes and drop these tags or backlinks into your folder.
Use ==‘templating’== to create quick scene templates which structure your writing scene, so that at the bottom there is a header that will include time, place, location settings at the bottom, and so on.
Writers may use ==plugins== like Kanban or better word count to track statistics and help organize or storyboard. Many people suggest plugins like Kanban, Mind Maps, and other awesome tools; but they either have a learning curve, require I adjust my note taking structure (just another new thing to learn), or weren’t being updated or communicative enough when resolving problems. Sometimes the plugins were glitchy. Sometimes the plugins worked fine but they were limited or required too much typing in contrast to just linking to a mind map from my dedicated mind mapper.
Based on what you’ve told me the things you want to do can easily be done with just linking / templating / tagging and proper organization structures.
The power of Obsidian is that it can shapeshift to fit your needs. The downside of Obsidian is that the more nuanced your needs are the more skill or time you will need to code it to fit you, or reliance on plug-ins with inconsistent support and an added security risk.
Other than looking through plug-ins to figure out what you need (and hoping those plug-ins are supported and remain supported and making a github account to contact those users if something bad happens) – your next best option is to code what you need. I’m currently excited to explore the power of Mermaids to replace my writing diagrams and family trees, and there is a mindmapping app in Obsidian that I personally find limited coming from Freeminds and Xminds.
I’m finding using tables to be a hassle outside of Evernote and Word; but I’m also familiar with writing long sprawling tables with HTML which Obsidian can handle (arguably much better than markdown which is super limited). For managing ‘tables’ I find creating templates with the tables I want and then filling them in is easier for me to deal with than trying to write tables from scratch each time.
I’m finding that for me to get Obsidian to do what I want it to do as a writing tool, I have to tinker with code and learn or refactor pre-existing plugins which is a time sink, but worth it once set-up. If you have even a bit of coding ability or willingness to tinker to get what you want, then you can set it up to do what you want the way you want it.
Check out Snippets (How to Achieve Snippets), (Snippets). You activate snippets like plug-ins except in the appearance section. You can also install themes that have features you want, the take out only the bits you want and add it as a snippet (you can also find them prewritten, I just haven’t done that yet). I’m working on my own crap at the moment to streamline things that I need as a writer, that is apparently really niche. Tinkering isn’t hard for simple shit, but it gets more complicated, the more complex what you want to do becomes, and there is a learning curve.
If you get really comfortable tinkering you could probably
write game and story engines for your novel and have them run in Obsidian . Sorry I got carried away.
Learning Obsidian’s Strengths and Limitations
I’m still learning what Obsidian can and can’t do for me based on my needs – Learning it’s limitations in each realm of knowledge that I have is still trial and error for me, but what it can do is powerful and a lot. I think you too will need to do the same, which can only be done by building your stories or plots in Obsidian and hitting walls and going through the process of finding work-a-rounds for them (deciding if it’s a hassle or not).
Obsidian is like the swiss army knife of writing tools. But sometimes you just need a damn hammer !
Pick your Organization structure => link your notes => create a tagging system => add tags => throw in some snippets and/or plugins => watch magick happen.
Some potential community plugins you might find useful for managing your story:
- Better Word Count
- Obsidian Charts
- Paste URL into selection
Potential core plugins you might find useful are things like:
- Word count
- Tag Pane
- etc. (I don’t know what Obsidian’s default is, I just went and turned on core plugins I wanted that weren’t active)
Hopefully that write-up helped you and wasn’t useless “I know this already” stuff, but genuinely writer to writer, this has been my own discovery.
Resources (off the top of my head)
-((Look into using Obsidian to track statistics, and that might also give you more useful info.))
Workflow for Writers - Obsidian thread made by Mediapathic contains a .zip called Obsidian Workflows, and Workflow 06 Writing Fiction with Obsidian, discusses one technique that is at least used by Mediapathic.
Fantasy Fiction Writing Using Obsidian- 1 hour video about how these writers use Obsidian. Which is basically a 1 hour video saying organize your notes, link and tag, and here is the plugin used by author.
IMF Organization structure-
Reddit “How do you organize your notes”-
YT: How to organize your notes-
YT: Comparing writing tools to Obsidian-
Sweetsetup How they use Obsidian for Writers-