A friend of mine uses a Wiki to keep all her files straight while she’s writing a book. I’ve seen software designed to help maintain little “sticky-notes” to help authors as they’re in the middle of creating their fiction. Both would fall under what I define as a “story bible”.
Basically, that’s the spot the author goes to in order to remember all the crap … uh … I mean brilliant details … they have written to help keep their story feeling real. Because those details are important. Details are what keep us grounded in a particular work.
(I heard a rumor George R.R. Martin got skewered for renaming a beloved horse in one of his books.)
Easy example … Harry Potter’s round-framed glasses. If those glasses had changed at any point in the books I think Rowling would have been deep-fried by her fans. You see those glasses and immediately you’re on the lookout for jumping chocolate frogs (also a detail) and people running for a brick pillar, heading for Hogwart’s train (yet another detail).
Now then … Until I started writing sequels to my books I never kept a story bible. The characters and worlds were fairly clear in my head and I was stupid enough to think I wouldn’t really need one.
Saboteur isn’t really a good example of my needing a story bible because it took place in a part of the Dyngannon world that I’d never visited before. But as I am currently writing the third book in the series (Usurper) and I am revisiting places both in Saboteur and Sedition …
I’m wishing I’d went ahead and written one out.
It’s not so much the characters that worry me — I know who I want to show up where and why and what impact that’s going to have on the story — but the descriptions, the landmarks … those I might have some trouble with.
My solution? A notebook.
I love that people can use technology to make Wiki’s and such, but there is just something about having my scribbles in weird margins, writing running vertical across the page, and using multiple colors that just appeals to me.
What can I say? It’s a jumbled mess in my head, it’s going to come out bizarre on the page, too.
The only exception I have here is the notebook for Tapped. That story bible is far more organized than any of my others.
Then again, it does have the outlines and big plot points for 7 novels and novellas in it. That’s right. I said 7. There might even be more than that. I’m not sure. I think I could do it in 6 but the whole series has a very episodic feel to it.
And I’m looking forward to the novellas. There are at least two of them. So, technically, I could do the series in 4 books with 2 novellas tacked on.
But really, who wants to put a limit on a series about rescuing refugees?