process Writing

Process of Writing A Novel: Keeping A Story Bible

Photo by Joel Montes de Oca
Photo by Joel Montes de Oca

So working on my novel, tentatively titled Akamaea, I’ve come across the idea of a story bible.  This what Orson Scott Card advises in his book Characters & Viewpoint.

“Keeping a bible helps make you aware of the decisions you’re making.  The very fact of jotting down your decision makes you think about it again, allows you a chance to do some wondering, some questioning.  Whether you do it right at the moment, at the end of the day, or the next morning, you have a chance to improve on the decision while the story is still fresh, before you have gone ten or fifty or a hundred pages beyond that moment.”

So what is it?

Basically it’s a notebook or a page or a file in your computer where you store all your pertinent decisions.  It should be scannable and easy to see.  I’ve set up mine where I’ll put the term first such as character name in bold and then a short fact or decision I made.

Here’s an example:

  • Marley (12) –  very insecure, jumpy, awkward, and nervous.
  • Georgia (8) – younger sister of Marley, uber confident, popular, wears red bandana on her head all the time

I’ve started using an Evernote  notebook for this.  It’s an app that I can easily access it at anytime from any device whether it’s my computer, iPad, iPhone or even logging on from a public computer in a library.  This could be useful if I’m struck with an idea to add to it or need to double check a decision I made before.

I’ll also put questions to myself in there which I’m discovering as I go along.  Because I’m creating a fantasy world, there’s so much to keep track of:  things like weather, vegetation, history of the inhabitants.  What do they eat here?I’ll let that marinate in my brain for a while and the next day or two I’ll come back with an answer.

Orson Scott Card is most famous for Ender’s Game and the books in that series.  He says he wrote the whole story in a matter of a couple of weeks!  But, that was after years of thinking about, developing, designing the world of the story and keeping a story bible as he went along.


By ingkavet

Andrew Ingkavet is an educator, author and entrepreneur.
His belief that learning a musical instrument builds skills vital to success in life has led to a thriving music school in Brooklyn, NY. Internationally, Andrew helps music teachers with the Musicolor Method, an online curriculum/training as well as a 5 star-rated book,The Game of Practice: with 53 Tips to Make Practice Fun. He is also founder of 300 Monks, a music licensing company.

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