Creating a Series Bible for a Novel + Free Templates


hey guys this is Brittany Wang an
aspiring author of a YA fantasy novel and today I’m gonna be showing you my
Series Bible which a lot of you on Instagram have been waiting for this so
I’m so excited to open this baby up and show you what’s inside if you don’t
already know what a series Bible is or a story Bible, novel Bible whatever you
want to call it basically it is a collection of reference documents that
have everything about your characters in your setting and your plot screenwriters
have definitely used series Bibles for a long time but I’ve seen a lot of
novelists use them successfully as well whether they have a really complex world
because they’re maybe writing fantasy or sci-fi whether they have a lot of
characters they’re trying to keep track of or they’re writing more than one book
and when they’re on book two or three they don’t want to have to go back to
read all the way through book 1 in order to make sure they’re staying consistent
for me I have a lot going on in my story I have a lot of characters I have a
pretty big world I have a lot of plot twists if foreshadowing I want to make
sure I do right and so I’ve started putting my series Bible together even
before I started drafting now I didn’t want to spoil anything in my book but I
also wanted to make this really applicable so what I’ve done is I’ve
taken pretty much all the notes out of this binder but replaced them with the
blank templates that I originally created for myself what I’ve also done
is I’ve made those templates available for you as a free download in the
description just in case you get really inspired by this video and you didn’t
want to go through all the trouble of making those templates yourself so let’s
get into the tutorial and if you find that this is really helpful I would love
if you would give this video a thumbs up and if by the end you still have more
questions about the series Bible or about world-building or anything about
writing I would love to discuss those with you in the comments okay guys so
this is the binder that I’ve chosen for my series Bible and obviously you can
choose whatever kind of binder you want but I got this one from Staples I just I
wanted something inspiring so I really liked how this one looked and I’ll link
this in the description in case you would like to get the same one but I
tried a couple different places and I felt like staples had a lot of variety
so I would go check there if you are looking I also picked up the
these dividers here which I thought were really cute and have these pockets in
them as well and also I haven’t tried it yet but they do claim that you can write
directly on these dividers and then erase what you’ve written if you want to
change it so I thought that was pretty cool as well now I’m just going to use
this series Bible index that I’ve created and again is in the templates
below to sort of be a reference point as we go through everything again not
everything in here is in this Bible but it does have everything listed in the
index so you can add whatever is missing okay so the first section I have is all
about your writing goals for your project and this part of the template
again is not in the templates that I’m providing below because this particular
sheet which is really awesome is by heart breathing’s she is on YouTube and
in her video that I will link below she offers this sheet along with showing you
how to meet your writing goals and it was pretty awesome so I put that in my
series Bible it has a title word count goal start date plotting completed by
rough draft deadline and it’s completed by it has all of these deadlines and
just I thought that that was just really helpful to have right at the start the
other thing she talked about having was just having a visual calendar and sort
of marking deadlines and being able to cross things off within a calendar so I
just printed this off of my Google Calendar and I just got rid of all my
events so it was nice and blank so that is something that you can do as well
you’ll also notice that basically I’ve put everything in these plastic sleeves
and that might just be overkill but I like to take my binder with me if I go
anywhere to write like at the library or other places and I never want to just
hole punch these pieces of paper and then something happens and it just gets
ripped out and I lose it so these are just plastic sleeves and you can get
them at Staples as well and I’ll link them in the description to our second
section in oh yeah is more of a plotting section
and so I have this plotting worksheet template thing that has a place where
you can work on your log line or pitch your book blurb your synopsis and sort
of build on those things then on the back of it we have a place to sort of
Chronicle your themes that you want to weave into your plot important icons and
symbols subplots or other elements to work in and any questions you feel like
you need to be answering as you’re honing your plot in this area you can
also put in a section where you have your typed out or written out outline
and that can be for one book or the whole series that you’re writing but all
of that would sort of go right here I would also include any sections where
you’re printing out research or different tidbits that are helping you
figure out different parts of your plot or characters that you needed to do some
digging about and then finally I just like including like a blank
brainstorming page whether it’s writing or doodling or whatever you need to do
this is where you do that now depending on your preference you might want to
type these things out first and then print them out and put them in the
plastic sleeves in your series Bible for me while I’m sort of working on my plot
and working on my first draft I’ve actually really enjoyed keeping these
blank in here and then pulling the piece of paper out and writing by hand just
different notes and things in the margins and just making it really messy
and you know the creative mind um but then when I get further on down the line
and I have things really solidified maybe in the second or third draft my
plan is to go back and type what is finalized out and then have it as more
of a reference for future books in the series I just really feel like this
process keeps everything really fluid and again when I’m at the library or I’m
out and about and I get an idea and I happen to have this with me I can just
pull this out and write what I need to and I’m not like freaking out because oh
no I have everything typed and it’s so beautiful and now I’m messing it up
let’s mess it up first let’s make it crazy and messy and creative first and
then then I’ll finalize it and that’s just
sort of how my brain works but I would love to know as you guys create your own
series Bibles if you have any other processes that make it easier for you I
am NOT the ultimate expert this is just my experience and so I would love to
hear tips from you guys as well so on to section number three which is all about
our characters so what I do is I have a certain template that works sort of
fluidly four main heroes and villains and then I have a very simplified page
for minor characters that if they need to get more fleshed out I will then
create maybe something more like this for them but just basic ones that I
don’t want to forget little tidbits about those things go in here but for
the main heroes and the main villains I obviously have a name age gender my
world is full of fairies so I have like their kind or their race that they’re a
part of I have physical descriptions so I have listed here hair eyes skin
distinguishing marks height clothing and items mannerisms all that kind of stuff
would go here personality I just listed some examples you could include their
myers-briggs their strengths and weaknesses and flaws beliefs and
spirituality it’s definitely section I wanted to include skills and abilities
or powers based on what kind of world you’re creating their living situation
their family situation their occupation or job life experiences we have history
education all the things and events that sort of make them who they are today
they’re key relationships so the different people that make the most
impact on them or the different people they meet with in the book and how that
impacts their character or their arc inspiration so if certain characters in
other books or movies or stories have inspired that character and you just
want to keep sort of a record of that and finally have a short section just
for a synopsis of their character arc and how they sort of changed throughout
the book now you’ll also see that I have this section at the back here called
goals motivations and stakes and this is definitely inspired from Kim chance she
had sort of a breakdown of this in one of her videos and so I’m not
this in my templates for you guys because I want you to be able to go
check out her templates that she created but this was part of her character
profile and I just thought that that was really helpful to break down just at the
beginning in the middle and at the end of the book what are their goals
motivations and stakes and how that progresses throughout the story so you
can see here that some of the stuff that I have in my series Bible I’ve created
and other things have totally inspired me and so I put other people’s resources
in here another thing I’ll probably include in the plot section is Blake
Snyder’s beech sheet which has been really helpful for me as well so yeah
it’s just really fluid and I also really love that because it is a binder and not
a notebook you can obviously take out the sheets from the binder and reorder
them however you want or a while I was keeping everything in a notebook but it
was just so hard to sort of like keep flipping back and forth like where did I
write that note but this just allows me to again be fluid in my process but also
be able to move things around and organize them where I need them
alright and the fourth section I have here is all about world building now
some of you that are more in like a contemporary world might not need as
much detail as I have here but for fantasy and sci-fi especially I
feel like this section could get very big and so the first thing that I
include here is the world sketch or map and I just left mine here it’s just sort
of a very simple childlike doodle of what I picture my world to be so you can
enjoy that and hopefully that gets you excited that someday you’ll be able to
read about this world I’m so excited the next thing I did is I sort of separated
this into two sections the first being about the overall world and then what I
have are like five different provinces within that world and so what I chose to
do is to make profiles for both the overall world and the individuals or key
places in my world so this first template has the name of the world the
location if that the setting description generally what
it looks like and maybe the weather creatures and plants and stuff like that
the society and culture that that world has so people groups hierarchy and laws
education system common jobs religion currency and you can add whatever else
you feel is pertinent magic system again this is definitely pertinent if you are
doing a fantasy story at the back of this I also have a section for the
world’s history and the current state of the world as it stands at the beginning
of the book for the key places or for my provinces in my story again we have
location name the location within the world each of my provinces they hold a
specific value in their culture and so I wanted to include that and they’re sort
of people group or kinda race that inhabits there and then I got even more
specific with each province so again we have setting a description but each
province has a slightly different wildlife and weather system and
different things like that so I had that be different key places and unique
features within that province about the people group or kinda race physical
identifiers general temperament skills and powers common jobs clothing weapons
those are just different things to remind me to maybe include in here
hierarchy and laws magic system again because each province might have a
different hierarchy law system or magic system their own particular background
in history because that was important to my story as well they’re internal and
external conflicts and the larger role of this province in the story now you
might not need all of this and so actually when you download these
templates I’ve left it as a Word document so that you can actually go in
and edit whatever you want each section to say you can make them bigger or
smaller or whatever and yeah I just really wanted it to be as helpful to you
guys as possible what I do ask is that you can totally change whatever you want
within the template for the purposes of your own series Bible I just ask that
you don’t you know share it with anybody else or alter it and share it as your
own unless you want to share the link that I’m giving you so that they can
download it from me I would just really appreciate that obviously because I’ve
put a lot of work and time into this and I just want to help you guys and finally
the fifth and last section is just a simple glossary section again depending
on your world you might have a lot of terms that you just have to end up
defining and I was talking I think with my friend Rachel who I’m gonna tell you
about in a little bit and she was saying how she was using this glossary and how
it was just really helpful and again especially with like fantasy or sci-fi
you’ll just have this sort of document that you can reference while you’re
writing or if you forget what a certain term is called or what the rules are
about it again what I would do is I’m gonna take notes as things come up and
then at the end I want to sort of finalized things I would then go back
and type this up maybe an alphabetical order in a document reprint it and put
it in here well guys I hope that was really helpful and again if you’re
looking for any of the materials I’ve used or the free templates that I’ve
created they are in the description below also if any of you are watching
this video soon after its released I want to let you know that this Saturday
July 7th I’m gonna be going live on Instagram with my friend Rachel and
we’re gonna be talking about world building I’m gonna share a little bit
more about my series Bible she’s gonna share about this history book that she’s
writing for her novel we’re gonna be answering questions and then we’re gonna
do a word sprint as well so if you have any further questions definitely leave
those questions in the comments and we will be sure to answer them also on
Instagram by the way that livestream is part of a bigger writing retreat that is
happening all the way through this weekend from Friday to Sunday called the
pondering writing retreat tons of word sprints tons of live streams so if you
need to get words in especially for camp you know going on right now you’re
definitely gonna want to check it out well guys that’s all I have for you
today but if you enjoyed this video again please give it a thumbs up and I
hope you consider subscribing so you don’t miss anything and until next week
happy writing

35 Replies to “Creating a Series Bible for a Novel + Free Templates

  1. Hey writing friends!! I hope you got a lot out of this video and that it inspires you to try to create your own series bible! Don't forget to download my free templates (link in the description) to help you get started! As you create yours, I would also love to know how it goes and if you find any alternate ways to to make or organize yours! Let's share our tips so we can all create the most effective tools for our stories 😀

  2. I've been considering making my own series bible, but I wasn't entirely sure how to go about it, so this was perfect to watch! Will definitely be utilising your templates! Thank you heaps 😊

  3. Thanks so much for sharing Brittany! Love seeing your thoughts and where we are similar and different in terms of story bible planning. How did you film this birds eye view? Do you recommend a certain kind of tripod?

  4. Loved this video! This is so incredibly helpful. I totally need to get my series bible up and you just handed me the tools to do it perfectly. I'm so grateful, thank you so much for sharing 🙂 My current series is set in the contemporary world so I won't be using the world-building section as much but it'll definitely come in handy for my Fantasy series 😀

  5. I love my series bible but yours looks a lot more organized than mine. ha ha. Thanks for sharing your templates!!

  6. A Novel Bible seems a good idea, I have started using Scrivener which has several sections in it for creating research. However I do wonder about a written bible, for a start you can lose computer files if something breaks, secondly when I did my IT Degree I was told that you had to write lecture notes yourself as this helps you learn/remember. A subnote for those who have commented on my posts or followed me I have changed my Google handle to stuartjauthor as part of developing an author platform.

  7. It really is so helpful having a writing "bible" and knowing the details of your story, it makes everything easier. Great video! Have a blessed day!

  8. This is amazing, you gave SO much helpful information! Gets me so excited to make a series bible, and now I totally want to move from a notebook to a binder because you’re so right it gets super confusing and this way you can scrap pages or move them around! Thanks Brittany! ☺️❤️

  9. This looks amazing!! Thank you for mentioning my channel. I'm so excited you liked the schedule sheet! As for a series bible, I used to have one written down but it was so much messier and less organized than yours, haha. My series got so big that I started one in a digital private wiki. I'm hoping to do a video on that soon. Love your templates, though. This is awesome.

  10. Loved the format of your bible! I just have mine in a notebook, also divided by sections and such (as I am a huge organized freak) I just sub to your mailing list for the templates and all that’s to come🤗

  11. Yay! Love this. I am working on a series Bible too. I have not seen anyone make a video sharing one in this much detail. Great visual, very helpful video!

  12. Wow I love your Series Bible and how organised it looks. I also have a Series Bible but there's barely anything in it lol as I need to sort out all of the papers I wrote in into sections. This video is very helpful, thank you for sharing 🙂

  13. I've just been jotting down notes in my Scrivener file, but as I go into revisions and am about to re-read my novel, I think I am going to try to use your bible. Thanks for sharing!

  14. I love this idea. My story is also very complicated and this would definitely help keep it more organized.

  15. Great description of what a book bible is, lol. For months I've been following various fave authors and their editors and book bibles were often mentioned. I tried looking up the term book bible, as you can imagine, I got nothing but bible verses and scripture. It wasn't until looked up "series" bible that your video FINALLY came up. Thank you for the templates and for great YouTubers to follow. I do have one question, how do you track your foreshadowing? Sometimes I don't even notice I'm writing foreshadowing until my friend prereads for me lol

  16. Your bible looks great! I've always had a story bible for my epic fantasy novel, and I've tried explaining to others what a story bible is and they usually just think I'm weird. haha. I'm glad that others have giant bibles as well. Definitely interested in using some of your templates to go even further with my world building. 🙂

  17. This is super helpful! Thanks! I love that you’ve organized all this. My mind works on organized chaos – I have notes about everything I need, but they’re scattered through a bunch of documents and journals. This summer I should take a few days to make a series bible like this! (Especially since I have several books to come!)

  18. I do something similar, but mine is electronic. I carry a hardware encrypted flash drive with me every day, and any time I make changes to the content, I copy it onto my home computer so that both are in sync. Being organized really helps for long-term success, as there are times when I have to go back and reread some research I did way back to refresh it in my mind. Thus far, my 'bible' has been all organized in a single folder tree under the title of my first book, Osiris, but now that it's finished and I'm working on the sequel, I've copied the information to the sequel's folder tree. I will ultimately combine them under a series tree, though. I'm also a huge nerd, and include things like floorplans to buildings, starships, maps, etc.

  19. OMG! Thank you so much for putting all of this together. I just passed 80,000 words recently and have begun to have to reread chapters to make sure that I am keeping all of my characters straight. This is my first book, so I had no idea about the usefulness of a series bible! I was just trying to find some info on keeping my characters organized, but your organization methods are so much better than any I have found. I write everything first and then type it up, so your sheets are going to help me greatly. I loathed the idea of being tied to a program, your method allows me the creative freedom to write by the water, or in the park. 🙂 I was very impressed that you give other authors credit and share their links to the information that you found. I am also impressed that you ask for feedback and tips to share 🙂 Thank you again! You should write a book using these templates!

  20. Thank you for this wonderful video. I have been away from my writing life for about a year or so–busy writing poetry and making art. Now that I am returning to my series this was helpful in reminding me how to organize all my novel information. Thanks again for the video and the templates.

  21. these templates look so helpful but i think i would make them myself as i would be worried there not enough room on printed out versions lol although it looks neater lol i need to get a binder and actually set up my printer, kind of scared that i will make the computer blow up though. i tend to look at things and they break lol, thats why the printer hasn't been opened yet

  22. i also can't wait to read your story! I love fae books, and anything to do with fantasy really, but it sounds so good hope you get it published

  23. This is good for plotters, not so much for panzers. I have absolutely no idea what I want in my novel. I just write and what comes out comes out. Now for my self-help books I do plot those but there aren’t characters or plots in those books. Lol. Maybe one day I can learn to be a plotter for my fantasy fiction novel I’m writing.

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