Yes, I realize I missed my Thursday post with my fellow dwarves. Nope, I have absolutely no excuse. Unless you count the fact that sleep decided it wasn’t being appreciated enough and left me in a snit about two weeks ago. Damn drama queen. Now I figure out how to lure it back. In the meantime, I took over Saturday’s spot on the 7ED site to play catch up. On my blog, no one will notice…
I promised we’d get back to some basics on writing, so now that Shadow’s Moon is out propositioning some very nice people at the pub houses, let me clue you in on something I knew, but had slammed home recently. When writing a series, it’s very important to be able to remember the little details. You know, things like hair color, eye color, height, gender, where someone lives, what their favorite food is, what they drive, who their parents are…the little things. It’s all those little things that make or break your world over numerous books.
Readers are some of the most intelligent, eagled eyed people out there. If you tell them your character is blonde, blue-eyed, lives in the city, drives a sports car and prefers chocolate over caviar (like who doesn’t?), and then somewhere down the line she’s puttering around in the suburbs, eating caviar and driving a Jeep, there will be issues. I promise you. So how does a writer keep track of all these little things? Especially as they are constantly refining their worlds and characters?
The answer is…a series bible.
Now, when I started Shadow’s Edge, I had the beginnings of a bible for the series. Of course it was scattered around my office and filing cabinets masquerading as scribbles on notebook paper, more scribbles on post-its (a vital component of any office), even more scribbles on the back of restaurant receipts with coffee stains. By the time I finished the first book, I managed to gather my loose little notes into one central area. Then I was off to write Shadow’s Soul. When I spent more time trying to verify something about a character of one of the Kyn Houses than actually writing the scene, it was time to put it all together. But, first I had to finish the book.
So Shadow’s Soul done and out into the world, Shadow’s Moon was well underway and my notes were still an unruly pile in need of some serious discipline. It may have taken a few discussions (read-heated debates) among the Evil 7, but it was glaringly obvious if I wanted to win some of my points, I better have proof that I really did have that character doing that before. This meant the last two weeks, on top of query letters and synopsis creation (which we’ll try to address next week), I finally buckled down to get all those pesky details in order.
What exactly goes into a Series Bible, you may ask…my answer, after many hours trolling the internet and talking to other writers: Whatever you feel is vital to your world.
With that lovely open to interpretation answer, I will share what is in mine and you can discard or copy what ever tickles your fancy.
CHARACTER PROFILES: this includes all the vital stats on your characters–physical, emotional, background, who they’re linked to and how, images (there’s fun to be had doing an internet search entitled: hot brunette males), where they live, what they drive, how the dress, personal ticks/habits, job position, etc.
LIST OF MINOR CHARACTERS: I went book by book and anyone I mentioned by name went on this list, along with the notation DEAD if they didn’t survive. You never know when one of these names comes back and takes over.
WORLD HISTORY: this includes world rules on how your world works, the history of its creation and they way your current world interacts/ed with others. In mine, I have a breakdown for each of the four houses of the Kyn, the governing structure, magic rules for each race, some history behind each of them, strengths/weaknesses of each race (physical/emotional), territory division for the Shifters and who runs which packs, glossary. This is a huge section and you can break it down further if it helps.
PLACES/LOCATIONS: a list of all the bars, restaurants, businesses, homes that are in each book and how they’re linked to the characters. Someday I’ll have maps too!
BLURBS: from each book. Here’s a great way to get a jump on your query, write your own blurb for your book.
SYNOPSIS: from each book, anywhere from 1-5 pages. You’ll need these.
SERIES ARC: This is important as it helps you see where each title will fall under your major plot, and how each title will help move it along.
NOVEL PLOTS: self-explanatory–plots for each book, at least how they start out. They never end up the same.
SHORTS: this is a list of ideas I will someday brave in my attempts to master the short story.
There is a massive amounts of opinions on what should be in your series bible, plus quite a few free worksheets if you want them, but I found this is what works best for me. It allows me to keep it all straight and not lose sight of my overall story.
So for those who’ve stuck this out to the end–add your suggestions to what should be in a series bible!