This week, I have guest author, Megan Beth Davies, to talk about one super helpful writing resource…a writing resource that’s so personalized to your story, it’s like you’ve created it yourself…because, well, you did.
Megan is a fantasy writer like myself, which naturally comes with a ton of planning (and some organization required). From world building to developing a magic system and all the ensemble characters in between, it can be tough to keep your head on straight.
Before I get too ahead of myself, I’ll let Megan explain what exactly it is that I’m talking about…
What is a book bible?
A book bible, sometimes referred to as a series bible, is a document that contains all the important information for your book. Writers use book bibles at different stages of their writing to gather all their thoughts into one place and keep a record of everything they may need to know as they work through their book or series.
When should I use a book bible?
I start my book bible when I am plotting and outlining my novel, using it as a sort of brain dump for all the information I think I want to include. Then I use it as I go through edits to add or remove things that may have changed while drafting.
When the book bible is final, it should be used as a reference point as you go back over the book and writing further books in the series to check details that may have been missed, like important elements of a character’s backstory or travel times staying the same from location to location.
The primary aim of a book bible is to ensure you keep continuity throughout.
What should I include in my book bible?
First, you want a section for your characters. Who are they? What makes them unique? How do they develop? What relationships do they have with the other characters? Remember to outline their arcs, and you could even create family trees if your setup is more complicated.
Then you want to define the world. Things like physical descriptions (tropical paradise or frozen tundra?). Make a note of what languages are spoken there and include a glossary of most used words you may want to explain, especially if it is a made-up language. You will want to establish religion, history (including myths & legends) and politics. Also, what is popular culture like? What do they wear? Is there magic in the world, or technology, or both?
Remember, even if you are not writing fantasy, there will be some elements of world building to your novel. Is it set in a different place in time? In a different country? Even if you set your novel in your hometown, most people won’t know it as well as you do, so you will have to build that world in their imagination.
Lastly, for those plotters and plantsers out there, I like to include a story outline in my book bible. Just a synopsis and plot overview including any key beats, foreshadowing, plot twists and themes. That way I have something to reference and put me back on the right path if I get stuck in the drafting or editing phase.
Do you have a template I can use?
We will very soon! When The Writer Community website launches in February, we will have a template for the ultimate book bible that you can print off and use. Follow @the_writer_community to stay updated.
More about Megan:
Megan Beth Davies is writer of fantasy and folklore with a generous helping of romance. She grew up by the wild English sea, reading old fairy tales by Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and Andrew Lang. She studied languages, classical literature and ancient history through her school years, inspiring a lot of what she writes today. She writes tales that transport the reader to another time and place and speak to the heart.
Megan lives with her partner and cockapoo in a hundred-year-old Edwardian house on the South Coast of England. When she is not writing, you will find her reading, hosting historical dinner parties or practicing yoga (albeit badly).
The Newbie to Novelist’s Book Bible:
I had considered sharing an example of my book bible with this post, but then talked myself out of it because…well, massive spoilers. But Megan highlighted some key components to include and I can’t wait until The Writer Community website goes live for the template.
I will note that I use Scrivener when I write, and there are a ton of built-in features for you to create a book bible with ease––notably the notes section which can compile all of your research, outlines, and other book bible related resources in one location. Also, the toggle split feature allows you to work on two separate pains simultaneously, which means your book bible is always on hand!
Thanks for reading, and now go write!
If you found this post useful, let me know in the comments below. Message me with any content you would like to see in the future!