Friday, October 28, 2011

Create a Story Bible in 6 Easy Steps

You should know what you're writing about by now if you're doing NaNoWriMo. If you don't, then I know what you're doing this weekend and may I suggest you read my posts on plotcards and character/setting deets?

Another tool that I can't live without while prewriting is the story bible. Most writers have a version of this whether it's a bunch of scrawled notes or a highly detailed folder with charts and Word documents. A story bible is a one-stop shop for all of your story related items: plot, characters, settings, notes, pictures, and whatever else applies.

Creating a story bible isn't a lot of work. Mine is modeled after an article I read on XtremeLife a few years ago. (The original link is dead, but you can access an archived version here.) At heart, I'm a paper and pen girl and that's how my story bibles come out. For this NaNo, I used my very awesome Circa notebook, which made it much easier for me to move sections around. If you follow the instructions below, you'll be on your way to an easy-peasy bible too.

1. Divide your notebook into five sections and label them CHARACTERS, SETTINGS, PLOT, RESEARCH, and UNANSWERED QUESTIONS.
Section tabs
2. Fill out your CHARACTER section using the quick bios you already created. Make sure you leave some additional pages to backfill information at a later date.
Character notes in the prewriting stage
3. Fill out your SETTINGS section with pictures and setting notes. Depending on how hardcore your set pieces are, these pages might fill up fast. For mine, I like to include little drawings that highlight location and other things that are in my brain, but would take too much time to locate online.
Note the art skills.
4. Fill out your PLOT section. The first thing I do is include a rough logline detailing my story's premise. After that, I take my plotcards and transfer them scene-by-scene into here. I make sure I include a scene title, where and when the scene takes place, who is in the scene, and a more detailed description of the scene. This should be the longest section in your bible*.
Detailed breakdown by scene.
5. If you have to do research, do it and put all relevant information in your RESEARCH section. Even the most mundane story has research elements. This is the nifty place for it to go, even if it isn't until the revision stage.

6. While you are drafting, if there is something you don't know like "what is the highest a midget can jump?" you would jot the question down here.

That's it. The finished product is easy to carry around and, if you're the type to compulsively check your notes, you can use this without flipping between multiple programs.

What method do you use for keeping all of your project notes together?



* After research most likely.
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Last.fm hit of the day: Walk Like a Zombie by HorrorPops

6 comments:

  1. Love this, Alicia! I just might have to try it for my next project. There's something to be said for having everything you need in one place that's easy to transport and ISN'T online.

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  2. Katy, I agree 100%. Even though the computer gives less clutter, the convenience of taking a notebook and sitting outside is awesome.

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  3. That's a really good method. I have a less organised Bible, essentially just a notebook.

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  4. Your method is very inspiring. I just finished the First Draft in 30 Days and this reminds me of that but more condensed and manageable. When I'm ready to start that shiny new ms, I'll be popping back over here.

    Good luck with NaNo

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  5. I don't really write out my plots, but I like this idea! I never thought about creating a bible of images, research, etc. I actually need this for my NanoWriMo novel. I may just put one together over the weekend. :)

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