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Let’s Create a Series Bible






First Published in Writing on Gabriela Pereira's DIYMFA.com

JUL 02, 2019 by Tammy Lough



You have sealed your passion-infused romance novel with the last two celebratory words: The End. Your cast of characters are so dynamic they jumped off the page and popped the cork on a bottle of bubbly and it didn’t faze you one bit. This describes writing that screams, “Make me a Series!”

I wrote about this topic in my previous article “Why Consider a Romance Series?”. When you  have awesome-sauce dribbling from the pages of your completed manuscript, rather than begin a new project, why not write a book series and continue the magic?

Now, let’s talk about creating a little jewel that will become your ultimate asset when you are writing book three of your series and need to recall if the heroine’s Uncle Mortimer was blind in his left or right eye. This jewel is called a series bible. Just a couple flips of your handy-dandy series bible and walla, you have your answer lickety-split.

Let’s Get Started!

Supplies to Create Your Series Bible

  • 3-ring binder, 2-inches or greater

  • Dividers, 1-2 packages

  • Pocket Folders for a 3-ring binder to store treasures like pictures of characters, settings, a to-do list, research materials, a trinket (magic ring) from your paranormal romance, clothing styles cut from magazines, etc.

  • Labels to delineate sections of your bible binder

  • 3-10 Colored pens or pencils.

Labels

1) Main characters 

The most important thing you can do to make your novel come alive is know your main characters like you know yourself. You must be able to keep them “in character” throughout your story. The deeper you dig into your main character’s psyche, the more they will develop as flesh and blood individuals.

Use a separate section of your binder for each main character. Include a full bio, age, physical traits, birthday, parent’s names and how they met, location of birth, travels, internal and external conflicts, deepest secrets, goals, background information to coincide with your novel storyline so character responses never seem contrived. Even the most mundane fact about a character may become a plot point down the line. Jot it down.

Be consistent. If your heroine says okie-dokie in chapter two, don’t switch to okie-dokey in chapter ten. Follow the consistency rule throughout your novel.

When you are writing and your character reveals something new, add it to your series bible. Down the line, you’ll be glad for these little notations. 

Bonus: Search the DIY MFA website for amazing articles, interviews, and podcasts on creating a series bible and all aspects of creating characters, plot, viewpoint, etc.

2) Secondary characters

Use a separate section for each secondary character. Although secondaries require less scoping out, as you develop these characters, one or more may pop off the page and be perfect for a starring role in a future book of the series. Take a bit of extra time getting to know a potential spotlight secondary as you develop their character in case you give them a starring role later.

3) Backstory

Your character’s backstory is the deep down gritty goods. It is the how, what, when, where, and why of every action your character takes and every word spoken. Know your main character’s backstory and you will know how they will react to any scenario, positive or negative. Remember to reread backstory often to seed this information in your mind as you write scenes. Your character’s past will be a reflection of her future choices.

Info dumping in a scene is a slap on the wrist no-no. How will you inform your reader why a character reacts in a certain way? Backstory. Was your heroine, at the age of six, bitten by a dog who mistook her ankle for a chew toy? If so, that would explain why in chapter fourteen of book two she nearly rides her racing bike into a pond while escaping an unleashed hound at the doggie park.

4) Setting

Create the perfect setting for your series. Draw a detailed timeline and include major historical events coinciding with your story for a possible character merge with reality. If something big happened historically, you may want to show how it affected your characters.

Inform your readers of the time, time of year, place, a sense of the space your characters occupy. Do they live in a deep woods cottage, a New York City apartment, the Tower of London, a shed behind the Ben franklin 5 & 10? Inquiring minds want to know.

Take time to draw the town and where major businesses are located, the character’s living space, furniture placement, office, any space where scenes are visited repeatedly to provide realism on a revisit. Don’t forget outdoor foliage and ensure a grove of evergreens mentioned during a picnic scene grows in your chosen setting. You are writing fiction, but your fiction must be accurate.

Include special laws and rules if they exist in your setting, perhaps a futuristic fantasy or paranormal romance? What about a fictitious religion, superpower or method of transportation? Don’t forget historical, present day, or futuristic weapons and body armor.

5) Clothing and accessories

Research available fabrics and notions of the era. Did thread, buttons, clasps, zippers, lace, sewing machines, etc., exist and/or were available in your time period? If possible, tuck a swatch of fabric into your series pocket folder. When you find a picture you like of a piece of wardrobe, cut it from a magazine or print a photo from a website.

I have a mishmash binder of packets of paper doll collections. Western, Southern Belle, Flapper, Victorian, Homesteader, Civil War, etc. This way, I have a visual to describe my heroine’s ball gown as she sashay’s along with her partner to the Viennese waltz. 

Don’t forget to jot a detailed description if using a “magical” ring, amulet, sword, shield, etc.,for later recollection.

You can use as many labels as needed to keep your bible series information at your fingertips for fast retrieval.

Color Chart Example for a Five-Book Series

Book 1: Green

Book 2: Lavender

Book 3: Blue

Book 4: Orange

Book 5: Red

Use ONE color for each book in your series because then, at a glance, you will know which book in the series a certain fact first appeared by the color of the print. In my above example about Uncle Mortimer’s blind eye, as you flip through secondary characters and see mention of this, you will know, since it is written in blue ink, this new piece of information first showed itself in Book Three.

Have fun with your series and make it your own. It will look boring at first with just one color, but as you plan/write your bible, you will have a rainbow. How big of a binder to buy

and how many sections you make is up to you and how detail-oriented you are or want to become. Don’t forget to tuck little this and that’s into the folder pockets. They will remain treasured keepsakes.


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