The Story Bible: Needs, Wants, Must-Haves

valuable writing tools

What’s a Story Bible?

Bible in a Binder

For those with the need to feel the paper between your fingers, here are recommended supplies for your Bible in a Binder:

  • 3-ring binder, suggested 2″ size
  • Dividers, with 5 tabs. Preferably with pockets. (If you need more tabs, buy a pack of 8-tab dividers or another pack of the 5-tab dividers to suit your needs.)
    • Tabs for (can appear in any order)
      • Plot timeline (beginning, middle, and end; important info about climax; key events and moments; etc.)
      • Characters (fact sheets and face claims, backstories, relationships, etc.)
      • Worldbuilding (science and technology, cultures, religions, prejudices and tensions, socio-economical and government info, maps/illustrations, etc.)
      • Symbols & Artifacts (things with meaning for the plot/characters, Chekhov’s Gun(s), important/magical weapons, etc.)
      • Research (need-to-know info to make sure your story maintains its suspension of disbelief, all relative to the sort of story you’re telling)
    • Are there any other tabs you’re going to need? Let me know in the comments!
  • Optional: Sheet protectors for important “permanents”–pages that will need to be kept safe and will stand out from the rest, like
    • Info about primary characters
    • Maps, illustrations
    • Important fact sheets, like a “Quick Facts” guide to make sure you keep your story and plot elements straight

The Digital Bible

For you paper-savers out there, the Digital Bible is a great way to incorporate images, videos, colors and text into a document or novel writing software.

A lot of writers out there, who use electronics to write, are devoted to their writing software–Scrivener, Microsoft Word, Novelize, just to name a few. If I may suggest, for a Digital Bible, I’m using OneNote with great results. I have it on my laptop and iPad and can access my work through OneDrive. It’s freeform, like Scapple, and can incorporate images, videos, and even various font styles and colors (which I find handy when you’re making pages for specific characters*.) If you’re in the market for a note-taking software that’s portable, freeform, and easy to use, give OneNote a try. It’s FREE!

Your Digital Bible can contain the same things as your Bible in a Binder, and you can organize it in whatever manner is best for you.

*Font styles and colors, when pertaining to characters, can help you shape the mood for scenes shaped around that character. You can also find handwriting fonts that look like the handwriting of that character. It’s a pretty cool way to dive deeper into understanding the people you’re creating. Give it a try!

Resources

On Writing has a great in-depth post about creating a story bible WITH PICTURES!

David Hewson has a blogpost about the importance of a story bible with great Scrivener templates (FREE) to share!

HollowLands also shares insight about using Scrivener to create a story bible.

Kaye Dacus has a great NaNo Prep series all about creating a story bible. Find part 1 here!

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