So you’ve come to terms with Why You Need a Series Bible and you’ve decided on the tools you’ll use to Create YOUR Perfect Series Bible, but now what? What do you actually need to jot down while writing or what do you need to catch when you do a re-read?
This answer will vary for each author. I always recommend you decide what is crucial for you to know or “get right” for any future books in series and to not get caught up on insignificant details. This may seem obvious, but sometimes as you’re going through taking notes it’s easy to become fixated on every little detail. This will lead to a bulky series bible that you have to dig through to find the essentials.
For some authors it works better to outsource this project. When you’re writing you can focus solely on the writing and you save the time and energy of having to re-read your masterpiece. Or maybe you’re deep into your series and are deciding now to go back and develop a series bible for the first time. This can be daunting and tedious to take on yourself.
For others, you may feel you know your story best and can complete this project more quickly. Whatever you decide, have your expectations and needs determined before the project start.
In general these are the key elements that all series bibles need:
Character names (first, last, maiden, nicknames)
Relationships (husband of X, daughter of X, grandmother of X, pet of X etc.)
Age and physical description of characters (hair color, eye color, tattoos, birthmarks etc.)
Noteable quirks, catchphrases, likes/dislikes of any characters that will appear in future books (for example, if a character hates coffee or has never flown on an airplane)
Timeline (when the story starts and stops, when significant events like weddings occur)
Locations (where the story takes place, where significant events like proposals occurred if these details may be referenced in future books)
And if you write sci-fi and/or fantasy you’ll need to take note of magical systems details.
A series bible is also a great place to note the story’s tropes, themes and keywords. It serves as a simple spot to refer to when you’re editing a book listing or participating in a promo, so even things like ISBN, ASIN, release date and store links could be included.
What questions do you have? What elements are “must-haves” for your series bible?
Erin Tolbert is a Virtual Assistant specializing in Author Services, Social Media Management and Graphic Design (and yes, she can create a series bible for you too). An advocate for work-life balance, she loves color coding spreadsheets, checking items off lists and doodling in her planner.
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