One of the biggest things readers are looking for with books is consistency and continuity. Especially if you are writing sci-fi, urban paranormal, or fantasy novels. And let’s be honest, it’s hard to keep every detail about your world building or your characters in your head.
This is why building a series bible are essential.
A series bible is a document or notes that have everything from facts about the world you are building, to character bios, outlines, research, and more! Can’t remember the name of the main character’s mom? Look it up in your writing bible! Having a hard time remembering the powers and abilities of your fictional species? Look it up in your story bible!
Writers initially used story bibles as a tool for tv shows and franchised movies. For example, new writers that wrote for tv shows like Buffy: The Vampire Slayer or Poltergeist: The Legacy can get all the vital information they need (including writing samples from previous writers on the show) from the tv show’s series bible.
I learned about this when I used to lurk on online screenwriting communities, and from then on my writing has never been the same. From my fanfiction story ‘Playing Hero’ to writing my original debut novel ‘The Bipartisan Affair,’ I have always used a series bible.
Choose Your Program
I use (and swear by) Microsoft’s OneNote. It’s basically a tabbed notebook cloud software available with any Microsoft office package or you can get the free stripped-down version from the Windows App Store or The Apple Apple Store depending on your OS. I went more in-depth in my blog post ‘7 Cheap Writing Tools Every Author Should Be Using’. However, you can do this in Word or Google docs document or even a physical tabbed notebook.
Create Your Sections
Create sections or headings for book synopses, characters, settings, world-building, and music. This is what I use at a minimum, but you can create any section you want in any way you want.
If you are using Microsoft Word or Google Docs, I would suggest you heading format for the title of your sections so you can more quickly and efficiently navigate through your series bible.
Fill It In
Now it’s time to fill it in. I usually start with the Outline section where I add stuff like my book synopsis, timelines, and my 7 plot point break down my romantic arc outline. Then I move to characters. I add photos and little details about my characters at first and then later on in the writing process I create a full Wikipedia style character bios, and then I move on to my world-building info, my settings, and so on. Again, it’s up to you how much or how little details you want to put in your series bible.
Back It Up
Back up your series bible right now!. I’m telling you from my personal experience that losing a series bible can hurt your entire writing process. My best recommendation is to back up in multiple places. If you are using Google Docs, I would download the Google Docs file and save it to my external flash drive or just email it to yourself.
Even with OneNote, sometimes my series bible file was corrupted or was missing in parts. What saved my ass was that I periodically saved it into a backup file on Google Drive. If you handwriting your bible, scanned those pages with your phone or you at home scanner so you can always have a backup even if you lose it.
My last tip for you is that one of the biggest parts of your prewriting process is for you to create a series bible. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE FINISHED WITH THE BOOK! If you do, you will be re-read your book yet again (or multiple books) to cull all the information you need. Before you type even one word, your series bible should be set up and filled out to the best of ability. And as with your outline, it has to grow and develop as your story or series does. I usually update my series bible in-between drafts because the info in my series changes drastically between drafts.
And that is my tips to create an easy series bible that will streamline your writing and help become a more effective writer. Do you use a series bible? Tell me about it down in the comments!