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Whether you're writing a series or not, you might want to consider it

what is a manuscript critique

What is a Series Bible and why do you need one?

A series bible is a place where you keep any and all information that’s relevant to your book. The name implies that it’s best used when writing a series, rather than a standalone book, but we’d argue you can use them any time you write a book.

Creating your series bible can be time-consuming, but spending a little time up front to do an “info dump” might save you a lot more time later on!

When you’re first starting out writing your book or your series, your ideas are new and fresh. You’re excited, you can’t wait to get everything down on the page.

But sometimes life happens. What if you have to step away from a project for a little while, and you need a little refresher to pick up where you left off? Or what if you’re getting ready to write the second book in your series, and you realize you’ve forgotten some key information from first one? Not a problem … if you’ve got your series bible.

How to make a series bible

A series bible can be a physical object, like a binder or notebook, or it can exist in a Word document or spreadsheet. There are programs available specifically for world building, and you can also find series bible capabilities in programs like Scrivener. Some people even use online wikis to create private web versions of their bible.

You’ll want to give some thought to what format will work best for you. Some people love to have physical versions of their bibles, for others who might like to work in different locations and don’t want to carry around an extra binder, an online version might work better.

What to include in your Series Bible

Regardless of how or where you set it up, there are a few pieces of information you’ll want to be sure to include. Our list here is far from comprehensive—your own list will depend on your genre, perhaps the size of your series, and the information that you personally deem most important to retain.

Here are a few ideas of things to include:

Comprehensive character sketches

Series Bibles allow you to create comprehensive character sketches. It’s natural for characters to change and grow over the course of a series, but unless your character changes their looks regularly, it might be bad if their eye color or height changes from book to book!

Some things you might want to include:

  • Dress

  • Mannerisms

  • Age and birthdate

  • Mannerisms

  • Speech patterns

  • Eye/hair color, height, etc

  • Pet peeves

You can find character templates in writing software like Scrivener, and using that as a starting point, create a new template for yourself that includes whatever information you deem relevant, including photos for inspiration.

World-building information

This is most important if you write in genres such as Paranormal (Romance or otherwise), Sci-fi, or Fantasy, but this can also matter if you’re writing, say, a Small Town Romance and you want to remember all the names of the business located along Main Street.

You might want to include things such as:

  • A glossary or dictionary

  • Magic rules

  • Hierarchies

  • Landscapes

  • Planet names

Publishing info

There are many ways to keep track of the most current information regarding the publishing status of your books, including spreadsheets. But there might be a few things that you’d want to keep in your series bible, such as:

  • Original publication date

  • Current prices

  • Current blurb

  • Cover art

Here are a few more ideas on things to include and if you have any other great ideas you’d like to share, let us know, we’d love to hear from you!

  • Number of books in the series

  • Character list for each book

  • Complete character list (and whatever you want to remember about them: their dress, mannerisms, speech patterns, hair color, etc)

  • Plot summary of entire series as well as each book

  • Location descriptions

  • Graphics such as maps and inspiration photos

There is no limit to what you can include in your own series bible. If the ideas here sound like something that will help you, go get started on creating your own today!

If we can help you assess your manuscript to see how well plot and character are working together to create that inevitable sense of satisfying conclusion, let us know. Our manuscript critiques and developmental editing services are perfect for that purpose.

Have questions about the editing process? We’d love to chat with you and help you figure out your next steps. Contact us to set up a free sample edit.

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