I was working on JACOB WONDERBAR #2 the other day and it came time to reintroduce a teacher that plays an important role in the first book. I summoned my mental image of the teacher…… which was completely blank.
What did she look like again? What color hair and eyes did she have? Total blank.
I mean, I’m not great with faces in real life, let alone with fictional characters. I think have a mild form of that face blindness thing, so by the way if I meet you again in real life and I have a blank look on my face it’s not personal I think you’re great just give me some context!!!!!!! (Luckily my wife will spot someone on the street and say things like, “That is the person who sold me a lollipop when I went to the county fair in 1985 but now they have orange hair.” I’m surprised she hasn’t been hired by the CIA)
Anyway, I mentioned how I forgot all about the teacher to my wife and she nodded knowingly and said, “Time to work on your Series Bible.”
Series Bibles take many different forms. Sometimes when writers are coming into an already-existing series or, say, a line of books with certain rules (such as in romance) the Series Bible will give them the characters, world, plotlines, and rules that the writer has to follow.
But you can also create your own – if you’re writing a series, or even if you’re just crafting a single novel set in a unique world with its own rules, I highly recommend creating your own Series Bible. Whenever you reintroduce a character the Series Bible will remind you what they look like. If you have different worlds/planets/lands/classrooms/lairs you won’t have to go hunting through your manuscript to try and remember which one is which.
The Series Bible is a lifesaver when your brain has reached capacity.
What to include:
– Characters: What they look like (just copy and paste straight from the book), how many brothers and sisters they have, important events in their past, personality traits, etc. Also, any unique schedules they have, hobbies, etc. I’d include all characters, major and minor. You never know who’s going to reappear.
– Worlds/Planets/Lands/Classrooms/etc.: What they look like, their backstory, any important details, etc.
– Rules of Law: Any important/unique laws or conventions, styles, etc.
– Any backstory that happens off the page: Make sure you know and keep track of all the key details.
– Inventions/Special Powers: This is important, especially for science fiction and fantasy. When you invent something, even when it’s just barely mentioned, it can create huge repercussions for the rest of the story. For instance, if you introduce a personal hyperwarp drive, whenever a character is in trouble your reader will be like, “Duh, use the personal hyperwarp drive, USE THE PERSONAL HYPERWARP DRIVE!!” Keep track of our inventions and powers, and make sure their rules of use are clearly delineated.
– Anything else you need to remember for later
Your Series Bible will save you when you paper over a plot hole only to open up a big ole gaping chasm somewhere else in the book.
Now I just need one for my real life.
Photo © 2004 by Tomasz Sienicki via Creative Commons License