Today’s question comes from patron Joseph Craig, and it’s a follow-up from last week’s video about story bibles.
Joseph wanted to know how my story bible is actually organized, and any tips on keeping a story bible arranged in such a way that’s actually a useful resource and not just a mess of notes.
So my story bible is organized into three large sections, each of which have many subsections.
The three sections are CHARACTERS, LOCATIONS, and WORLD BUILDING.
Characters is fairly obvious: it’s a huge list of character sheets for every character in my books.
Within the master Characters folder, I’ve broken down the character sheets by which book series they’re in. All the Nightblade characters are in the Nightblade Epic subfolder, all the Academy Journals characters are in the Academy Journals subfolder.
When a character leaves one series and joins another, like Xain, I actually move their character sheet into the subfolder for the right book series.
Within the series subfolders, I might create additional subfolders. For example, in the Academy Journals subfolder, I have a subfolder for the family Drayden, so that all of Ebon’s relatives are in one easy-to-find place, and another subfolder for the Academy, so I can easily reference everyone he regularly encounters at the Academy.
Each series subfolder also has MAIN characters listed at the front, and then minor characters in their own subfolder in alphabetical order.
That’s mostly so I don’t name multiple minor characters with names that are too similar, which I’ve accidentally done on occasion.
In the locations subfolder, for me, this is fairly easy, because Underrealm is built a very specific way.
There are nine kingdoms, and each kingdom has its own locations subfolder. Each kingdom has many forests, rivers, cities, towns, etc, and each of those are one document inside the subfolder.
There might be even more subfolders where appropriate. So, for example, the Wyrmwing Inn is a building in the city of Cabrus. So the Wyrmwing Inn location sheet is in the Cabrus subfolder, which is in the folder for the kingdom of Selvan.
Finally, there’s the worldbuilding subfolder. This one is the last rigorously organized because there’s just SO much stuff inside it.
But I do try to have broad subcategories, and fill each one with more and more stuff until the subcategory needs even more subcategories.
So, for example, I’ve done the most worldbuilding on the society of Underrealm, and so that has many subfolders concerning merchants, nobility, significant books, etc.
This folder gets reorganized the most often as I compare and relate notes to each other and then create new ones as the story demands it.
The last element of my story bible isn’t a folder at all, but a single document, and that’s the master Underrealm timeline.
This is one of the most important documents in the story bible, and it doesn’t really belong in any of the master folders. This is literally a day-by-day account of what every character in every story is doing, and when they do it.
This is incredibly important for me to keep track of, since the storylines intersect so often and I need to know what’s happening around all of the characters at any given time.
No matter how big the scope of your story, I recommend keeping a timeline, though of course the scale of the timeline will depend on how big your story is.
And that’s how I organize my story bible! Thanks so much for the question, Joseph. I hope the answer was helpful.
A reminder to anyone else who’s watching: Joseph and my other $5 patrons on Patreon get these Writer Wednesday videos 2 weeks before they go public on the YouTube channel.
Plus, $5 patrons are allowed to submit questions for me to answer in the Writer Wednesday series, just like Joseph did for the video you watched today.
If you feel like supporting these videos, or if you want me to answer YOUR questions about the art and the business of writing, check out my Patreon right up here.
Thanks for watching.