Creating a Useful Series Bible
In order to make creating your series easier, I recommend getting a three-ring binder or a disk bound notebook for organization purposes. These work better than a journal or a regular notebook because it’s easier to add and rearrange pages when needed. This binder or journal is called a series bible.
What’s a Series Bible?
In the series bible, you’ll put all the relevant information about your series such as notes about character and plot. You’ll want to keep it by your side while you write, not only to jot down new information and ideas as they come to you, but also to easily confirm story details like the color of your hero’s eyes or the name of their pet.
You could also make your series bible electronic. The important thing is to have all the relevant information in one place in order to reduce continuity errors. In today’s post, we’ll go over how to set up your series bible.
Whether you choose to have an electronic series bible or keep it in a physical journal or a three-ring binder, the information you put into it is the same. It doesn’t matter if you are a plotter (a writer that plots out the book before writing) or a pantser (a writer that sits down at the keyboard and just starts writing). Eventually, all the details will be in the series bible and you will use this as reference as you write all the books in the series.
Your Series Bible: The Opening Pages
The first pages of your series bible should be an overview of the series. Include the following:
- A summary page with the series arc or the story concept. This can be as detailed or as narrow as you wish it to be. List the major plot points as a road map on how the journey will go. If you don’t know that when you start the project, make sure to add it here once you have the information. Before you start writing, though, you want to at least have down how the series begins, what the final climax is going to be, and how the series ends. That way as you write the books, you can refer back to this information and keep yourself on track.
- World notes with detailed setting information. Does this take place on the moon or down the road from your house? Put in enough details or pictures so that you feel comfortable visualizing the common areas where your characters are going to interact.
- A list of all the book titles in the series with a short description of the plot, the main characters, and how each book furthers the series arc.
- A list of all main characters, protagonists and antagonists, and what their roles in the series are at the start of the series and at the end of it.
- You can also put any relevant publishing information in this section once it’s available, like sales channel links, marketing blurbs, and release dates.
A Place for Every Book
Every book in the series should have its own section with the following information:
- Book title and blurb
- Synopsis of the plot
- One page per main character, listing descriptions, pictures for visual reference, and other personal details. Also put what their wounds are and what personal journey they’re going to address in the book and how it affects the series arc. Here’s a good place to note what their goals, motivation, and conflict are.
- One half page for each of the supporting characters with the same information as relevant to the book or the series arc.
- Chapter-by-chapter summary. This can be filled in later after you write the chapters, if you’re a pantser.
More Character Details
I find answering the following questions about my main characters helps to keep the focus tight on the relevant details. Answer these questions on your character’s series bible page:
- What does the protagonist want?
- What’s stopping them from getting it?
- What are the stakes if they fail?
- What are the stakes if they succeed?
- How will they change from the beginning of the book (series) to the end?
Once you’ve set up your series bible, if you feel comfortable with what you have, it’s time to start writing. The series bible is a fluid document and will change as you finish each book—sometimes it will change after every chapter. The more information you have in your series bible at the start of your writing the series, the easier it will be to avoid rewriting to add in breadcrumbs for the reader to follow, as well as reducing the chance that you’ll find in book five that you should have foreshadowed the climax better in book one.
USA Today bestselling author, Jamie K. Schmidt, writes erotic contemporary love stories and paranormal romances. Her steamy, romantic comedy, Life’s a Beach, reached #65 on USA Today, #2 on Barnes & Noble and #9 on Amazon and iBooks. Her Club Inferno series from Random House’s Loveswept line has hit both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble top one hundred lists. The first book in the series, Heat, put her on the USA Today bestseller list for the first time, and is a #1 Amazon bestseller. Her book Stud is a 2018 Romance Writers of America Rita® Finalist in Erotica. Her dragon paranormal romance series has been called “fun and quirky” and “endearing.” Partnered with New York Times bestselling author and actress, Jenna Jameson, Jamie’s hardcover debut, SPICE, continues Jenna’s FATE trilogy.
Writing involves choices. Word by word we can harness the power and magic of words. Let’s make the most of our writing choices with today’s post.