Monday, July 22, 2019

Why Writers Need a Story Bible by guest author Ellen Jacobson

Series Bible

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night with a nagging thought? I often do. Sometimes, it’s something innocuous like, “Did I remember to buy more cookies at the store?” Other times, it ends up making me panic—“What details did I get wrong in my latest book? Did that character have brown eyes or blue? How old are those kids supposed to be?” And when I panic, I eat cookies. That is if I remembered to buy them at the store.

I recently published the third book in my cozy mystery series. To be honest, I can barely remember what I had for breakfast (probably cookies), let alone remember what I wrote in the first two books. This is a real worry for me when it comes to ensuring consistency throughout the series.

Fortunately, I have a “series bible” of sorts which tracks things such as:

  • Characters—Names, physical appearance, age, likes/dislikes, mannerisms, habits, family relationships etc. This includes not only humans but also animals. After all, one of the stars of my series is a Japanese bobtail cat. It’s pretty important to remember what her favorite brand of cat food is.
  • Setting—Place names, descriptions, locations etc. I also have a special sub-category under setting for boats. Because my series takes place at a marina, I keep track of their names, types, and what they look like.
  • Timeline—Time of the year / season does the book take place in.
  • Subplots—Details of story lines that continue across the series.
  • Backstories—It wasn’t until I started writing my third book, that I realized how important documenting each character’s backstory was. I ended up not having enough detail in my “series bible” and had to go back and read through the first two books to refresh myself on certain key backstory points. Hopefully, I got it right!

My system isn’t high tech. It’s just a Word document separated into categories where I enter the relevant information and note which book it came from. I share this document with my editor and he adds to it during the editing process which is really helpful.

If you’re new to series bibles or thinking about creating one of your own, here are a couple of resources that you might find helpful.

Elizabeth Spann Craig – Tracking Trivia by Using a Series Bible

Lorna Faith – How to Create a Series Bible

Poisoned by the Pier Now Available!

Poisoned by the Pier, the third book in the Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery series, is now available in ebook, paperback, and large print.

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play

When Mollie's husband signs the two of them up for an extreme diet, she's not amused. When someone ends up poisoned by a cake, things get even worse.

While she tries to identify the killer, Coconut Cove’s annual boating festival is in full swing. In between getting ready for her first sailing race and cheating on her diet, Mollie and her cat, Mrs. Moto, uncover clues, interview suspects, and do their best to avoid rutabagas.

Can Mollie nab the killer before someone else is poisoned?

If you like quirky characters, adorable cats, and plenty of chocolate, you'll love this cozy mystery. Pick up a copy of Poisoned by the Pier and laugh out loud from the first page to the last.

New to the Series?

If you're new to the series, you might want to start with Murder at the Marina. Now is the perfect opportunity as the ebook is on sale for 99c/99p for a limited time.

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | Google Play

About the Author

Ellen Jacobson lives on a sailboat with her husband and an imaginary cat named Simon. When she isn't working on boat projects or seeking out deserted islands, she writes cozy mysteries and sci-fi/fantasy stories.

Connect with Ellen on her Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub | Blog

You can also sign up for her newsletter for updates about new releases, current projects, sales and promotions, and other fun stuff.

Review of Poisoned by the Pier by Tyrean:
I really enjoyed the two previous cozy mysteries in the Mollie McGhie series, but I loved Poisoned by the Pier! I feel like it takes the cake and the costume prize! (Note: although there are cake and costume contests in the book - no spoilers here, really.)

As Mollie continues to investigate the mysteries of life in Coconut Grove, work her way around a terrible diet plan her husband is sure they need in their lives, and keep Mrs. Moto on a leash, she stumbles across another death, another murder, and only with the help of Mrs. Moto will she overcome the high stakes stacked against her ... or stumble again. You'll have to read it and see.

With quirky characters, twisty turns, and a bit of redemption for some of the characters, Poisoned by the Pier has everything needed for a clean, cozy mystery read!


Elizabeth Seckman said...

I never thought to put it on a word document. I keep character and story notes on notecards. A word doc sent to the editor is a genius idea, as are the cookies. Always remember to buy the cookies.

krystal jane said...

I haven't written a series yet, but I take notes like this for every book I write. It's incredibly helpful.

The Cynical Sailor said...

Thanks for hosting me today, Tyrean!

Elizabeth - I do wonder that my Word document is going to get too unwieldy as I add more books to the series. I might need to look at another system. Glad you understand the importance of cookies :)

Krystal - I've found my notes to be invaluable. Just wish they were more detailed in parts.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tyrean and Ellen - so sensible to make 'a bible' for those basics and detail ... while the book sounds a real cozy mystery - good luck - cheers Hilary

CWMartin said...

I would never be able to write without a story bible anymore. Heck, basic passwords elude me anymore, and my cursor seems intent on proving I'm losing my mind...