Maybe you’re reading the title and asking, “Jade, what the heck is a Story Bible?!” A Story Bible, my friends, is a compilation of all the important details and facts in your story. It makes it easier for you to locate characters and their backgrounds, setting details, and everything else you need to know. What you include, and how detailed you make it, is up to you, making it perfect for either a pantser or plotter.
How do you create one?
To start with determine if you’d like to create this digitally or using a notebook. If you prefer to use a notebook, I recommend one with three sections, or you could buy some tab dividers and create your own sections. If you prefer to do this digitally, I would create a folder and name it Story Bible, or the name of your novel. Then, create three sub-folders and name them Characters, Locations, and Extra Tidbits.
- Characters: In this section, you want to include every little detail about each of your characters. Include name, age, physical descriptions, background information, goals, habits, schools they attended, and jobs they have held or are currently holding. I recommend doing this for major characters, as well as characters that might make the smallest of appearances. This especially comes in handy if you are writing a series, and can’t remember if your main character’s teacher from freshman year had blue or green eyes. You could flip through your manuscript and cry tears of frustration until you find it, or you could pull up your Story Bible and quickly and easily locate the information you need. To help you create character sketches, I once again recommend checking out Kristen Kieffer’s character sketch on her website. You can find it here.
- Locations: Are there certain places your characters visit regularly? Is their office for work located on the sixth floor or the fourth floor? Is the mall five minutes from their house or ten? Have you created a new world for your characters to live in? List special locations, names of towns and places, languages, and special technology. List anything important to the setting of your world, even the fact that your MC hates the slow traffic light at the corner of their street and always stops at the Burger King that’s located around the block from work for breakfast.
- Extra Tidbits: I recommend taking a few minutes, before or after a writing session, to record any pertinent details you’ve added or are about to add. Or, after each chapter, use this section to jot down a brief synopsis. Another idea is to use this section for a running list of important dates. List when characters were born, moved, died, got married, started dating, etc. Have you created new words or terms? Compile a list of those words and definitions in a dictionary and put it here.
Let me know if you’ve created a Story Bible in the past, or plan to create one now. Can you think of anything else that would be essential to a Story Bible? Can’t wait to hear from you!