Hi, SE friends! Mae here with you today.
Thanks for joining me as I piggyback on the posts Staci Troilo has been sharing about creating a story bible. Be sure to check out Staci’s post on How to Create a Story Bible, The Series Premise, and Character Sheets. There will be more in her series as well, so stay tuned for future posts.
Spinning back the clock, the first story bible I created was for a standalone book—Weathering Rock—the manuscript that eventually became my debut release. At the time, I had no idea what a story bible was. I just knew I needed a mountain of notes, and pages of information for my research.
Today, I create a story bible for each novel, some more elaborate than others. A few reside solely on my computer, others live in a notebook, still others get a combination of both. Each one is different in scope, but in the hopes that some of what I’ve done can help others, I thought I’d share the story bible I created for my Point Pleasant series.
First, as a refresher, these are the items Staci recommends including:
- Series Premise
- Character Sheets
- Setting Descriptions
- Book Outlines
When I wrote Point Pleasant book one, A Thousand Yesteryears, I wasn’t certain it would develop into a series. I had glimmers of ideas for books two and three, but the initial binder I put together was intended solely for the first novel. When Point Pleasant spawned into a series, I kept the same cover but continued to add information. The original working title for A Thousand Yesteryears was NEGATIVE REACH.
My Point Pleasant series has three main families—Parrish, Flynn, and Lynch—who influence the plot throughout all three books. I created characters sheets for each with references that were important to the story. For A Thousand Yesteryears, I needed to know how old each character was at the time of the Silver Bridge collapse in 1967, and their age in my “present” year of 1982. I also added things like cause of death, occupation, hair and eye colors, etc.
If you draft character sheets on your computer, you can modify the category for each book based on your needs. Here’s a look at the sheets for Point Pleasant, along with brief genealogy for my three key families. I also made sheets for secondary characters and the staff for a hotel that is key throughout the books.
Next comes my timeline and book outlines for each novel. Believe it or not, panster me actually made detailed outlines for each, but I won’t bore you with a lot of text. My timeline is more photographic. 🙂
For setting, I included maps obtained in Point Pleasant, plus pages of pics I snapped while visiting the area. For certain photos, I added text references as noted on the street view below.
All of the above material gets tucked into the binder, divided with tabs and colored pockets.
Finally, there is a separate notebook for my musings, story ideas and handwritten research notes. For some reason I like to do this part by hand. This is a look at the note books for A Thousand Yesteryears and A Cold Tomorrow.
A lot of information I include in my story bibles never makes it into my novels, but by investing in so much detail, I invest in my characters who drive my plot. We all work differently, but I find it helpful to see how other authors plan. I often glean ideas from their suggestions.
It’s my hope that I’ve provided some measure of framework to assist in your current WIP or as you plan your next project. For me, the story bible is the foundation from which I build my books. As the story grows, more and more goes into the binder. It’s a catch-all for anything and everything related to the world I’m building.
How important is a story bible to your writing? Do you have any special tricks you use when creating one? Let’s chat in the comments below.
Ready, set, go!