A story bible is a bible for your story. Literal, I know. When you write, you create new worlds, new characters, and all of those things you create should go into that story bible. Especially if you write fantasy or science fiction or any story in which you create an alternative world.
In my urban fantasy series, Devil’s Blood, I create a new world. It has similar laws of physics; gravity exists. In this bible I note all the facts about the world, names of characters, locations, businesses, streets and all of that. Even if it doesn’t make it into the final story, it’s in the bible. In it I’ve written lore and history, a lot of which comes from the early days when Devil’s Blood was a spark of an idea. I wrote random things, notes and names. From that chaos of world-building the story sprouted, and grew slowly.
I’m better at the note-taking than I was before. I have a better feel for important things and things that I might change later. When I make a new world, I make a new bible folder for that world. It doesn’t have to be in story form. It can be bullet-points. I’m a fan of bullet-points.
- humid/hot in the summer
- cooler most of the year
- snows in the winter every years
- in the northern half of the country
- locations of the start and end of Royal War that ended the Monarchy
- people are mostly fair, varying hair colors
- smells like hot metal, old garage, and river water
- industries include Belle Corp, maker of the Belle Battery, which powers most of the city, like cars, cold-boxes, and heating/cooling systems. It is the Belle Battery that made Belle City the center of commerce. The batteries have a bluish glow and are little metal boxes with fuses in the sides, and electrodes on either end when they attach into the things they power.
- notorious for it’s thieves guild, not unlike St. Louis’s gang problem
- Looks like St. Louis, but with a thicker downtown, like Chicago. It’s spread out like St. Louis, with much of the old river town vibes, like old mills and run-down ruins of factories along the river city, from when the river was the biggest means of transporting goods. Then the railway came along.
Most of things bullet points are somewhere in the book, but not all of them. I mention batteries and Belle Corp, but I never found a convenient place to go into more detail without it feeling like forced exposition, so I left it out. But it’s there, and I know it, so if someone ever asks me, I can answer.
It’s a good habit to do this type of exercise with your characters, too. Expand their background, their beliefs, their personality, their hopes and dreams and fears.
- fears being trapped
- notes all escape routes upon entering a room
- doesn’t like soda
- avid coffee drinker
- likes to be above, she climbs higher to see better; she likes a good view
- doesn’t like surprises
- favorite color: yellow/gold
- favorite flower: hibiscus
- favorite coffee flavor: caramel, mocha
- likes chocolate, but it’s expensive in the city; it’s all imported from the mountain tropics in the extreme southeast of the country, on the other side of the wastes
- doesn’t like to be restrained
- has a go-with-the-flow attitude as long as the flow doesn’t bite
- moral alignment: between chaotic good and chaotic neutral; she sees justice but it’s biased toward herself and what she believes to be justice, such as eye-for-eye and revenge.
- believes that if you kill someone, you forfeit your right not to be killed in return
- if she lived in the modern world, she’d listen to instrumental music, do yoga, and have a punching bag in her house
- strong willed; she opens her own car doors and doesn’t need a man to do things for her, or anyone else. She doesn’t like having peoples pity.
- doesn’t have tattoos; fears needles
- born in a small town in Vienna
- her mother stayed at home; father worked in the fields or in the mill
- Family killed in house fire set by devil-hunters, in which she was the sole survivor; mother, father, and sister died
It’s also fun to interview your characters. Take your characters on a first date. What would you want to know about them on a first date? How does their personality come through in their words?