Writing a book is a serious undertaking. Writing a series even more so for an author. There is a significant amount of information to keep track of, including names, physical appearances, plot details, and sometimes even languages, world details, laws, and more. With so much to keep track of, a series bible is a priceless tool for authors.
What is a series bible?
A series bible is a handbook to your fictional world
Series bible. Book bible. Book compendium. It has many names. At its core, a series bible is a guide to the details of your story.
A series bible contains all the facts and details that are pertinent to your story and series, all down to the smallest detail, like the size and location of a birthmark on a character’s arm. It is meant to be a tool for you to refer back to as you write each book in your series and later when you edit.
A series bible can include character descriptions and biographies, details about settings, timelines, family trees, and more. If you are writing in the paranormal or fantasy genres, you might also include information about the world you created such as magic systems, technology, language, and laws.
Why Authors Need a Series Bible
1. Keep Track of the Details
Details are the key to any story. But keeping track of those details can be a lot of work, especially when writing a series. At a certain point, it may feel impossible to keep everything together in your head. This is why you need a series bible. Never worry about losing track of the pertinent details when they are all at your fingertips in your series bible.
2. Ensure Consistency
There is nothing worse or more distracting to a reader enjoying a story than inconsistency in the details. Readers become invested in your fictional world and its characters. Readers notice details. And inconsistencies are jarring. That secondary character’s name changes. The neighborhood bar is no longer on Main Street. Avoid inconsistencies by using a series bible. All the details from each book are located in the series bible, so as you write the next book, if a detail slips your mind, it is easily located and remains the same throughout your series.
3. Simplify Your Writing Life
Writing book five in your series and can’t remember certain details from book one? You could waste time re-reading this book, searching for that piece of information, or you can quickly refresh your memory by flipping through your series bible.
How to Create a Series Bible
There is no wrong way to create a series bible. A series bible is meant to be a tool for you, so create it in such a way that it is helpful to you and your writing.
A series bible can be handwritten or created digitally. If you decide to create a digital series bible, there are multiple tools that you can choose from:
- Microsoft Word
- Google Docs
- OneNote, Evernote, or another note-organizing software
What You’ll Want To Cover
What is included in your series bible is entirely up to you, but there are certain categories that you will likely want to include in your series bible, no matter what type of book you are writing.
- Character descriptions & backstories
- Story arcs
- Names & nicknames
- Physical description
- Character traits
- Relationship to other characters
- Character backstories
You may also include details on your secondary and even background characters.
- Names of streets, shops, parks, etc
- Physical description
- Importance of the space
- Connection to characters
Other Categories You Could Include
- Family trees
- Races, cultures, and social norms
- Technologies, spells, and magical systems
- Language or dialect
- Organizations, culture, & government
Helpful Tips for Creating Your Series Bible
- Identify Personal Priorities: Think about your story and series. Not all stories or series are going to require a detailed series bible. You might just need a simple Word document with a list of your characters and settings. Other series are going to require very detailed notes about the world, rules, and magic systems.
- Create Templates: It can save you a lot of time and make your series bible more consistent if you use templates for commonly noted information, such as details about people and places.
- Establish Your Process & Be Consistent: Decide what information you’ll track, when you’ll enter it, and how you will enter it. Establishing your process ahead of time can ensure that you are consistent as you create the series bible.
- Color Code By Book: Color-coding by book can be helpful for tracking the details of your books. Each book gets a specific text color, so that when you enter information into your series bible that became fact in Book 2, you easily see from glancing in the series bible, by the color of the text, what book that piece of information was learned or where that character was met.
How To Use Your Series Bible
Once you’ve created your series bible, what do you do with it?
Well, you can use it to refresh your memory before you begin writing the next book in the series. Read through the story summaries to refresh your memory as to the series arcs, story arcs, or story threads, or refresh your recollection about certain character details by flipping through the character descriptions.
As you begin writing the next book, you can use your series bible when you forget a certain detail, doing a quick search through it.
A series bible can also be used by editors or proofreaders to fact-check details in the book to ensure consistency.
Get started with your own series bible with my It’s All in the Details series bible workbook, available in both physical and digital form. Currently available is the workbook designed for contemporary series but coming soon is a workbook with additional pages for those authors writing in the fantasy, paranormal, or science fiction genres.
But if creating a series bible seems like a lot of work, one of the services I offer through That Bookish Brunette Literary Services is the creation of series bibles for authors. Contact me here for more details or reach out via e-mail.