Are you ever working on your latest writing project, and partway through the draft you can’t remember whether you gave that character blonde hair? Or what date something happened? Or what name you made up for a certain city the characters eventually have to get to?
We’ve all been there! It’s easy to lose track of the tiny details that make your story feel really real, and it’s important to stay consistent as you’re writing. But what’s a writer to do?
You could create a story bible, sometimes called a book bible. And it’s easier than you might think!
// What is a Story Bible?
A story bible or book bible is a one-stop-shop for your story’s details, ranging from the big, overarching world to the tiniest details about your characters.
Story bibles are great because you can make them as simple or elaborate as you want. It’s completely up to you how to utilize the tool.
// Why do you need one?
A story bible really comes in handy as you begin to revise so you can check your consistency throughout your draft. Also, these compendiums are immeasurably helpful when you are writing a series or want to go back and write a short story or novella based in the same world. It saves you the trouble of searching through your other drafts for those nuggets of information.
// What do you include?
So, what do you include in a story bible?
While that’s ultimately up to you, I’ve created this free downloadable story bible template to get you started.
You might include things like:
- Characters, including main and minor characters
- Detail each character’s physical appearance, skills, internal/external conflicts, motivations, goals, and anything else important for the character’s development throughout the story
- Information about the world
- Setting, including the time of year, place(s), environment, etc.
- Rules, including societal rules and standards, cultural customs, etc.
- Special powers, like magic
- Clothing, including styles, fabrics, items special to your characters, etc.
- A research section
- If you do any research for your world (which you will!), you can include those references in this section so that you may easily refer back to them as needed.
- A glossary
- This is mostly important if you are writing any kind of speculative fiction, like fantasy, sci-fi, and the paranormal. If you make up any words or phrases, you want to make sure you define them here for future reference (and for your editor to check spelling).
If you’re writing a series, you might even expand on your original story bible to include each of the above sections for each novel/story you write in the series.
Again, a story bible is yours to customize to your exact needs. Your story bibles might even look different across your different stories and worlds, and that’s okay! The great thing about them is their flexibility.
Don’t forget to grab your free story bible template to get you started. Happy writing!