The just word alone sends shivers down my spine.
Now, I like a good, clean, house as much as the next person, I just don’t like to do it. If I was rich, I’d have someone do all of the cleaning and all of the organizing for me for the rest of my life. I would be so happy.
Anyway, use creative types, we’re not really known for being the most NCO (Neat-clean-organized) people in the world. Our organized is making sure some of the dirty dishes making it to the kitchen instead of just sitting on the desk forever.
One of the best ways of organizing, as an author, is to create something called a Series Bible or a Story Bible.
Some of my favorite series in the world have Series Bibles. Breaking Bad, Frazier (don’t judge), and even Star Wars, all have Series Bibles, for when new writers start working on a project, they can know pretty much everything they need to hit the ground running, with running jokes, bios on the characters, and even maps of popular areas.
Now, are you gonna have multiple people working on your novel? Most likely not.
Are you gonna need to look up a thing on a moments notice and not have to worry about whether or not you bookmarked the page or pinned it? Oh yeah.
What do I put in my story bible?
Anything you want, really. I mean, it’s your story!
But, if you’re going for more of a futuristic story, do you really need 13 pages on the medieval courting process? Probably not (but if you do, that’s cool too!)
The main things you’ll want to add are going to be things like character bios, family trees (if lineage is important), maps, how magic/science works in your story, weapons – things you use and have looked up before.
If you’re doing a murder mystery, having a bio of the characters is great, having recipes that include antifreeze that no one would suspect, is a bonus.
If you are doing some massive world building – this helps out a lot with btw – you’re going to need to know a lot of little stuff, like regional accents, maybe recipes, beliefs and faiths, independent races and civilizations.
Step one: Gather
Gather all of the items you need.
That’s silly, hold on, let me fix that. Gather all of the items you think you will at this time.
There will most likely be more things you want to add later one, we’re just building the foundation for your bible. You can totally edit this later and nothing in this is gonna be set in stone.
- A binder (A big one)
- Page protectors
- Page inserts
- Sticky notes
- Some good pens
- (Optional) A Printer
- (Also Optional) Scrapbooking supplies
Step two: Write
Now, either print or write down all of the information that you need for your story. My printer is unfortunately broken, so today I will be getting carpal tunnel writing everything down.
Write down important things: Character bios, world maps, running jokes, backgrounds, anything! Write down anything that you think might be useful in the future.
With this series, it’s going to have a strange sort of magic, so I’ll have to remember not only the rules of my magic but also spells, if they brew potions what herb does what, any magical weapons, stuff like that.
I also cheat, a lot, with my planning.
I feel kind of dirty even suggesting it, that maybe you’ll think less of me for using it, but this is what I use, and have used, in the past and it works beautifully.
I use a website called CityGen. Technically, it’s for DnD players to help create different villages and cities for their game, but it does all of the hard work for me and I can focus on the things I really care about.
I admire writers who go through and create every little bit of detail within their world, down to the hidden brothel living above the church, but I am lazy.
There is no way I’ll be able to do all of that work – I didn’t even like making my own worlds in the Sims video games – I am far too lazy to do any of that stuff. I’ll just visit this website, type in some stats that I already know about the city and boom! Done!
Also, another way I cheat is by using Strategery Games NPC Maker. If I need a waitress or a nameless beggar, then I know where to go!
I don’t feel like I typically have to invest a lot of time and effort into a character only to use them for about three paragraphs.
Step Three:??? = Profit!
Once the bible is full of bios and plot points, don’t think it’s over with. This isn’t something to be set in stone, this is something that can constantly be changed, audited, and revamped at your whim.
As your write your story, things are going to change. Maybe your sidekick has a dark secret that gets revealed in Chapter 13, or maybe your big bad has a weakness that you didn’t know about until halfway through the final battle.
All of these things, the little nuances, will be crucial to keep in arms reach. You never know when you might want to bring up an old joke or a new trait.
In the final episode of Breaking Bad, we see Walter White’s pants float through the sky. If you were watching week to week, it seems like a weird shot to have.
However, it mirrors one of the first scenes in the pilot episode, having the story, in so many ways, ‘complete the circle’. Unless someone on the writing staff was just rewatching the first episode for giggles, then they wouldn’t have been able to find it without the story bible.
Obviously, you can make a story bible out of anything, Google Drive or a three-ring notebook, but there is something special about having a physical ‘bible’ in your hands.
Plus, if you’re computer crashes and you didn’t save anything to the cloud it’ll be easier to start over with the story bible than just trying to remember everything yourself.
I love my Story Bible. I think it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread. It keeps all of my thoughts in one place, all of the little worlds that I’ve created within this universe.
Thank you for reading! You guys can follow me on Twitter @morgancwrites and share your own images of your story bible.