I read this post by today, on the subject of story bibles:
What is a story bible?
A story bible is where you keep all of those essential details about your book/s. It how you stop those pesky inconsistency errors from sneaking in and make sure that things make sense. For example, if say Ryan had have received an injury in Wyrd Calling that left him with a scar, then that would go into the story bible so that the scar didn’t magically vanish in later books. It’s also where I keep a track of names, which bits of backstory were mentioned where, which species have been mentioned and how, physical descriptions of things, geographical notes, everything.
I, too, maintain a story bible for The Song of Forgotten Stars. It began as a bunch of separate files, but eventually I got tired of having to open three or four files every time I sat down to write — or opening them but not opening the right one, and having to stop and go into Windows Explorer because I opened “Locations in the Galaxy” and “Dramatis Personae” but I didn’t open “The Bestiary”, in which I’ve been collecting details on various creatures on my main planet (or referred to as living on others). Before I started work on Princesses In SPACE III: Yukon Ho! (not the actual title), I collected the various files together into one large file called “Forgotten Stars Reference Guide”.
So, what do I put in there? Well, I try to remember to put something of everything in there. Every little detail I make up along the way needs to be in there, from Princess Tariana’s hair color to what interests young Otona Cheyendi. This minor character’s full name, because I might only refer to him by his last name before I need to remember his first again. The names of various stars and planets. How many moons this planet has, how many planets that sun has. Names of historical figures I mention in passing, and what they did to merit being mentioned in passing here and there.
In short, every single little detail belongs in the Bible. Does every single little detail actually make it into the Bible? Well, no. I don’t have that much time, and I can’t stop writing a passage in which I’m making things up just to go and make new entries in the Bible. So when do I put things into the Bible? When I think to do so. Lots of times this involves my sudden need for a piece of information and my discovery that it isn’t in my Bible. So off I go to look it up in the manuscript, at which time I also make a Bible entry, and then I resolve to do better. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I think what I may do from now on is set aside a bit of my writing time on Saturday or Sunday to Bible Maintenance: making sure that new stuff is in there, or that I’ve updated old stuff (like names that I have changed along the way). I do need to get more organized about this, since the world of these books keeps getting bigger and bigger. I’m also starting to feel the need for maps, which is difficult because I’m working on the planetary scale. Do I do Mercator projection? Grab a white ball and draw on it with marker? How should I map a planet? To say nothing of — gasp! — an entire galaxy? Stay tuned!
Oh, and I’m going to stop calling it my Bible. Since my main planet in these novels is called Xonareth, I shall retitle it the Encyclopaedia Xonarethica!