Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Good Book

by Alan

Do you use a story “bible” to keep track of your characters, locations, etc.? If so, how do you do it, in Word, Scrivener, spreadsheet, scribbles on scraps of paper, etc? What “sections” do you have in your bible?

I do use a series bible. (Correction: I did use a series bible. Back when I wrote a series!)

My first book, DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD, was a stand-alone. Then my next two books were part of The Last Laff Mystery Series, featuring stand-up comic Channing Hayes. (Can two books be a “series?” Or is it a duology?) KILLER ROUTINE came out in 2011, and the sequel, DEADLY CAMPAIGN, came out in 2012.

Killer Routine 72dpiAfter I completed KILLER ROUTINE, I figured it would be a good idea to create a series bible so I could keep track of all the details, in order to maintain consistency throughout the series (at the time, I didn’t know how, um, short that series would be!).

I haven’t looked at the “bible” in years, so I dusted it off to write this post.

The bible consists of a WORD document, divided into about half a dozen sections.

It begins with about a dozen top-level ideas for future books in the series (wasted effort, I guess). There’s even a heading called CHANNING’S INTERNAL STRUGGLES, BOOK TO BOOK (yes, it was in all-caps!). The idea was to have Channing undergo a multi-book personal transformation during a multi-book arc.

Next I have a section for CHARACTERS. Here, I’ve written descriptions of the main characters (physical descriptions, their personality traits, basic facts, personal history, preferences, etc.). Whenever I needed to know some detail about a character, I could look it up (or add it) here. For instance, I can look up what kind of car Channing Hayes drives (a 1983 RX-7 that he calls “Rex.”) or what his favorite breakfast cereal is (Froot Loops).

In this section, I’ve also listed the names of every named character, to help me avoid having tooDeadly Campaign many men named Jim (or Bob or Kyle or whatever) in Channing’s universe.

The next section is called PLACES. Here, all the places my characters go are described: their hangouts, their favorite restaurants, where they work, where they shop, etc.

After PLACES comes a section called COMEDY BUSINESS. This is where I dumped all my research about stand-up comedy and comedy clubs.

All in all, twenty-one pages of now useless information.

Unless, one day, Channing Hayes is resurrected!


Art Taylor said...

Fingers crossed you might get to dust off that bible again. I loved the Channing Hayes books!

Cathy Ace said...

Super post - interesting question this week - i must back up my files more often, because everything is digital and when I'm writing (as now) I add as I go along....maybe backing up once a week isn't enough (and, no, I cannot print out paper because my house will explode!)

Alan Orloff said...

Thanks, Art!

Yes, Cathy, back up those files! I back up my manuscript daily onto a thumbdrive. Takes fie seconds, but will save countless hours if you lose a big chunk of something!