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  • Writer's pictureToni

How to Create a Story Bible for Your Book Series

Are you writing a series of novels?

If you are, then you probably need a story bible!

But what is a story bible, why do you need one, and how do you go about putting one together?

I’ve got the answers to all those questions in this post!

What is a story bible?

Image text: Think of a story bible as a bonus brain that helps store all the details of your story so you don’t have to remember them yourself. Who doesn’t like a bit of extra brain space? | Toni Suzuki, SFF Editor | Edits by Toni

You might’ve also heard these other names for a story bible: series bible, story encyclopedia, series encyclopedia. They’re all the same thing!

Essentially, a story bible is a tool that keeps track of all the details in a series. We’re talking things like character profile information, setting minutiae, timeline, and anything else you can think of.

The idea of story bibles originally came from screenwriting, where it’s common for multiple writers to work on the same show. They needed a way to keep important things consistent so that each episode would feel cohesive even if the writer was different.

Authors have since adopted story bibles to help them keep track of their series. Turns out it’s really tricky to keep all that stuff in your head, even if you’re just one writer instead of a team!

Why do you need a story bible for your book series?

To put it simply: You can’t remember everything.

The longer your series gets, the more characters, settings, vocabulary words, timeline events, and other things you add, and the more likely you are to forget something.

Why is forgetting such a bad thing?

Because readers remember. Especially readers who are superfans or readers who are bingeing your entire series one book after the other. And nothing knocks a reader out of the story quite like asking themselves, “Wait a second, wasn’t this guy named Geoff in Book 2? Or are Jeff and Geoff two different

Image text: Confusion is the killer of reader immersion. | Toni Suzuki, SFF Editor | Edits by Toni

people?” Confusion is the killer of reader immersion!

And if these slip-ups happen too often, with characters changing names or places changing directions or magic words changing meanings, readers can start losing their trust in you as an author. If you can’t remember a character’s name, then how can you be trusted to write a great ending to the story? Some readers will go as far as to DNF because they’re too confused and no longer trust you enough to continue.

Aside from that, being organized saves you so much time! Rather than having to reread Books 1 through 4 looking for how to spell Jeff/Geoff’s name (and then reread them again when you forget how far that one alien planet is from Earth), it’s right there in the story bible, found in just a couple minutes. Easy!

How do you make a story bible?

Now that you know what they are and why you need one, let’s get down to the nitty gritty!

Step 1: Pick your software.

There are tons of software options out there that work great for story bibles, from word processors like Microsoft Word and Scrivener, planning tools like Notion and OneNote, or even websites and wikis.

The best software for a story bible is the software you’re most comfortable using and updating. So if Notion confuses you, don’t build your story bible there—you’ll only be setting yourself up for frustration.

And yes, fellow bullet journalers, I hear you asking if story bibles can be made by hand. Some people do this! I don’t recommend it, though, because story bibles change a lot from book to book, and it’s hard to keep them organized in physical form. However, if you feel physical is the best way to go for you personally, then I recommend a binder so that you can rearrange pages and add pages wherever you want.

Step 2: Set up your categories.

You’ll want a separate category for each major type of information so that it’s easy to find.

Some major categories you’ll definitely want include:

  • characters

  • places

  • vocabulary

  • timeline

You may also have some categories that are unique to your particular story, like a magic spells category or an interplanetary governmental structure category.

You’ll probably also find it helpful to include a space for chapter summaries and another space for book stats—things like wordcount, number of pages for various editions, etc.

Step 3: Read and collect.

This is the longest part of the story bible creation process. You’ve gotta read each book in your series and pause every time you find a detail—character name, distance between cities, etc.—and note that down under the appropriate category.

Whenever you reach the end of a chapter, take a moment to summarize the chapter’s events in your chapter summaries section, that way it’ll be easier to go back and find a specific event later if you need to.

Step 4: Organize and beautify.

As you fill in details, you may realize you need some subcategories under your main categories. If you’re writing a space opera, for example, you may need an entire subcategory for spaceship names under your places category.

Depending on the software you use, you’ll be able to tag or color code the information you add to your story bible. I highly recommend taking advantage of this to keep track of which information was revealed when. For example, maybe Geoff is first introduced in Book 2, Chapter 7. If there's a specific tag or color for Book 2, then if you need to remember the first thing Geoff said to your main character, you can go back to that book and chapter to track it down much more quickly.

Also, if aesthetics are important to you, take the time to make your story bible pleasing to the eye! You’re going to spend a lot of time with it, after all, so it may as well look nice if that’s what you like.

Story Bible Cautions:

It may be tempting to use your story bible for planning ahead in your series, but resist the urge!

It is important that the story bible stays an accurate representation of what’s already happened in your story, not what might happen in future books. If you add plans for future books into your story bible, and then those plans change during the writing process, then you’ll no longer know what’s accurate and what isn’t.

Image text: Story bibles make fantastic planning tools, but don’t put your story plans into the story bible. Keep plans in a separate place, that way you can easily tell the difference between what’s already in the story and what’s not there yet. | Toni Suzuki, SFF Editor | Edits by Toni

However, a story bible is very useful for planning ahead, since all the past information is right there at your fingertips. Just plan in a separate document from the story bible, and only add things to the story bible once they become absolutely set in stone.

Does that sound like a lot of work?

That’s because it is! Depending on how many books are in your series so far and how much info you’ve packed into those books, you could spend over a dozen hours on this.

But the work is so worth it. When you’re writing Book 7 in your series and suddenly realize you need a detail from earlier in the series but you can’t remember where, you’ll be thanking your past self for making your search so much easier. When you don’t have to reread the entire series in order to plan the next book, you’ll be thanking yourself.

But if you don’t want to do it yourself, you’re in luck!

I create custom story bibles for authors.

Have all this work done for you so that you can concentrate on writing the next book. (Or just taking a break. Breaks are great, too!)

Let me take all that work off your hands!


Story bibles are vital if you’re writing a series, especially if your series is long or complex. They can be a lot of work to set up at first, but the time you save on rereading and the convenience of having all your story info together in one place is worth the work.

And if you don’t want to do it yourself, I’m here to help! Book your custom story bible here, or get more info about custom story bibles here.

Happy bibling!


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