Hey guys! This is Rose B. Fischer. You might know me from over on my blog of the same name. If not, it’s nice to meet you!
Last year, I blogged through an experiment in designing a drafting and revision process that works better for me than what I have been doing for. The blog series was known as Think Ink. This year, I’m doing another round of Think Ink focused on my world building system. Alli invited me to share my posts here with you, so here I am.
So far, I explained my organizational process thus far and why I’d like to change it.
Talked about what hasn’t worked to see if I can get a better idea of what WILL work.
And looked at some new tools and come up with a plan for creating a series bible.
You may be wondering, “what is this series Bible thing Rose keeps talking about?” Or, you may already know what they are, but aren’t sure where to start building one.
This post can help you.
What is a series bible?
In a nutshell, a series bible is a document or a collection of documents about a writing project. In television, where multiple screenwriters can work on a series, the series Bible helps keep things organized. It contains anything and everything that the production team might need to develop storylines, stay on track with plot and character arcs, maintain continuity, and keep track of series related details. The authors writing long book series, or even for one-shot novels, a story Bible can be a big help, and it’s a good way to document your writing process.
What goes in the series bible?
There’s no formula or standard for what goes in the series Bible, but there are some common elements that are helpful.
- A glossary or list of special terms in your story-world.
- A style guide containing any slang or “catch phrases” or character-specific modes of speech. Think of things that may not be grammatically correct or regional phrases and colloquialisms that you want an editior to know you are using on purpose. I had an editor who kept flagging one of my characters’ dialogue because certain phrases weren’t common in her region and she thought they were grammar mistakes. You’ll save yourself a lot of time if an editor has access to all of that in advance.
- A list of the books in your series in a reading order. This is probably going to change about 17 times before you’re done. That’s okay. What you want is something you can use to jog your memory.
- Character profiles or other ways of tracking your characters’ traits
- Relationship maps and other visual aids I do a lot of different kinds of diagrams. I also scribble notes and doodles. If it’s insightful, it goes in a folder for the story.
- Worldbuilding Notes I’ll be getting more into Worldbuilding later in the year if enough folks are interested.
- Plot notes. If you don’t have your whole series plotted in detail, just keep what you have in one place.
- Deadline tracking
- Research files and lists of topics
This sounds like a lot of work. Do I need to compile all of that in advance?
No, most writers I’ve met have a set of rudimentary notes or an outline when they start a project and build more as they go. The series bible functions as a reference guide for the project in production.
When should I start building a series bible?
Yesterday. Seriously. If you’re reading this post, I assume you have a series. You want a place to store notes, keep track of changes to your plotline, and have quick access to your characters’ relevant data. With that said, if you’re writing the first draft of your first book or you’re seeking traditional publishing and haven’t sold the book, your series bible should be a skeleton. Projects like this are a procrastinator’s playground. Write your book. Write about your book when you have a book to sell.
Do I need a special program?
No. I happen to be using Scrivener. A plain old ring binder or a folder on your hard drive is good if that’s what makes you comfortable.
And that’s it for now. Tune in next time for a sneak peak at my Scrivener binder for the series.
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