How I Made a Story Bible

A very long time ago, I shared photos on Instagram and Twitter of what I’ve heard some call a “Story Bible”. To my surprise people were interested and some (*couchShawnacough*) have been bugging me to write a blog post about how I did it. In typical Me fashion, I took photos for the entry and promptly forgot all about it.

i love putting my books on kindle!

Today, the procrastination ends and I will share my brilliant*, not-so-secret genius** ideas on how to create your very on Story Bible.

* decent
** hopefully useful

STEP ONE: Table of Contents

Endless reading about Bullet Journals on Pinterest taught me how to make a table of contents in a notebook. You can either buy one with numbered pages or like me, spend some time in front of the TV numbering the pages yourself.

The items in your table of contents depend on what you want in your Story Bible. I was looking to consolidate a lot of scattered information on my characters, their families, and an easy place to see what I’d already written.

As you add these sections in your notebook, write down what they are and on what pages you can find the information. The beauty of the table of contents is that if you need to add information in a different part of the notebook later because you ran out of room, you can jot that page number down here instead of ruffling through the pages while muttering unkind things under your breath. (Not that I have ever done such a thing.)

STEP TWO: Characters

I chose to make three categories of Characters: Main, Secondary, and Minor. Main Characters get a few pages, secondary ones get a page each, and minor characters a few sentences.

What you put in your character section is up to you. I chose to start with age, date of birth, and hair/eye color. These are the most common things I forget when writing a story. With any luck, I’ll stop changing eye color mid-story.

You can use a character profile from the internet if that’s something you use. Mine will likely be a list of facts and personality traits, major life events, etc.

STEP THREE: A Family Tree

one of several family trees in this section

Depending on your novel, this may or may not be something you need. In my novel, the majority of my characters come from one large family. Because it is the first in a series, I’ve also included ages to make things easier. (I have multiple versions of this family tree for different stories. Having one master copy with the original character set makes figuring out later ages much simpler.)

STEP FOUR: Timeline

With a large family, as well as an extensive backstory, figuring out the exact order of events has really helped. I don’t want to slip up on something stupid, like mentioning a character that wasn’t born yet being at an event.

You might want to use this space as a basic timeline for events in your novel. Or you might want to skip this section altogether. Use whatever works for your novel.

STEP FIVE: Outline

This was the section that originally sparked the idea for my Story Bible. I had a loose outline of scenes I wanted to write in my original notebook, but it often just mentioned dialogue ideas and sometimes the scenes ended up completely different from what I’d planned.

The outline section in my notebook is going to be filled out as I reread my novel and prepare for rewrites. Here I plan to write down a short summary of each scene, whose POV it’s in, and it’s purpose.

I haven’t finished filling out all the sections in my Story Bible yet, but I’m looking forward to having all my information in one central place.

I hope this entry was everything you were hoping for and that it helps someone in some way. If there was anything I didn’t address that you wanted to know, put it in the comments and I’ll be happy to respond.

Have you ever built a Book Bible? Does it sound like something you would like or just another way to avoid writing? I’d love to hear how other people keep their novel information organized.

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