Planning My Story Bible

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What’s a story bible? Something to help keep your universe and characters in order, especially when writing a series or epic fantasy. All your important info at your fingertips for when you need to find the name of your hero’s first cousin or how your magick system works.

I started making one for my Lily and Quinn series, but I have recently decided to start fresh. The biggest problem for me is that I am a total journal junkie, so now I have to figure out what to use for it. (Word docs or something on your comp works too! I just like having something I can hold in my hand.)

I also want to break mine down a bit more then I did originally. Is that what I should do or is that the planner/journal junkie inside of me? Hopefully it will all work out so that the series bible I make will be helpful and not one big mess. 😉

This is how I plan to break mine down. If you have made one, or plan to make one, I would love to hear what other sections you have in yours! 🙂

Characters-A) My writing buddies know I am a huge fan of visual character sketches. I am going to put a photo or two per page of what my characters look like. (I have some from magazines and those I printed). I will also make bullet point notes on physical appearance, so that if I just want to double check on my hero’s eye color, I will open to the first few ages of my notebook and find it.

Characters-B) The character sketch. Bullet points on my characters and notes.  I will be sure to leave extra space. My fictional best friends tell me something new about them on a regular basis.

Timeline- I have four short stories published with this world, and a fifth on the way. Not to mention novels I have started/written. I will have a section to timeline for linking important events, plus bullet points on what happened in each story.

Vampire/supernatural lore- One big thing I had to come up with in my stories are my vampires. What kills them, how a person turns, abilities, etc… On top of that I have other supernatural creatures and a magick system, so I need to have sections devoted to that. I almost wrote myself in a corner once with how the vampire system works in my universe. I don’t want to do that again.

The Bad Guys- Some of my villains have been killed off, while others are still (possibly) at large. Each one of them, dead or alive, will have their own page of notes. Even the dead ones might come back, since I plan to write a prequel or two.

Setting- My universe is pretty much where I live, but with changes. I need to make notes on certain places, such as where characters live, favorite places to go, etc… If my world was in a sci-fi setting or alternate universe, my notes would be way more in depth.

Maps/photos- As with my characters, I like having a visual as well as written notes to look back on for my setting. I will use my own drawn maps for some of it, as well as sections of real world maps.

Notes- A section for other story ideas and things I want to include. This will be in the back section. Sometimes when I am out, I make notes in my phone, or on scraps of paper. I need to keep my ideas together in one spot for a change, so my series bible will be the best spot for them.

Every writer has their own tools, and for me, a series bible will be a valuable tool.

 

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NaNoWriMo: 2 weeks to go!

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Two weeks from today the madness of Nanowrimo begins!! WOOT!!! I’m pretty excited for the most part and I’m slightly nervous. Week two of Nano tends to be the worse for me. It sets the tone for the “Am I going to crash and burn?” question. But I am pretty pumped about my novel idea, so I think know this will be a WINNER year for me. Got to think positive, right?!

Right now Mr.C is away for a few weeks for work. So I have the next two weeks to finish planning and prepping for Nano in peace. He’s pretty awesome when it comes to supporting my writing. When I say I’m hiding in my office to write, he gives me the time and space and doesn’t bother me. And he also gives me a kick in the ass when I need it. I usually hear “Did you write today?” Me:”umm…no…” Mr.C: “Don’t you think you should get on that?”

I have been spending some time over on the Nanowrimo website, posting threads in the forums and adopting secrets and the like. If you are one of the people who have put up with my questions on there, I thank you. I think there are two key groups of people who help you survive NaNo. A supportive family and fellow writers to hash crap out with.

Aside from novel prepping, I plan to indulge in some movies while he’s away. This week is all about Charlie Hunnam. I loved him since I was seventeen. (I really need to buy the box set of ‘Undeclared’.) I’m thinking ‘Pacific Rim’, ‘Dead Fall’, and ‘Frankie go Boom’ will be invading my DVD player this week. I figure some eye candy and entertainment will be needed between all the story planning 😉

 What are you doing these last two weeks before the month of insanity begins?

What NaNoWriMo Has Taught Me

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October isn’t going exactly as planned, but I must say I can’t complain about how it is going. Tomorrow the newest season of “The Walking Dead” begins. Like many TWD fans, I have been counting down since last season 😉 Who else is ready to see how the hell Rick and the gang are going to get out of their current situation?

Another countdown I have on the go is NaNoWriMo, which starts in just 21 days! Today might be a beautiful and sunny day, but I will be spending a few hours of it (I hope) planning my novel and getting myself geared up for the month of insanity.

This is my seventh year participating in the writing challenge. My first year, was insane. I wrote 25k words in just a few days. I was full of excitement, energy, and really pushed myself. The rest of the month slowed down but I got my 50k, and I got to write ‘The End’. My brain felt pretty empty by the time December 1st rolled around, and I spent the following year replenishing my words. In the years that have followed, I ‘won’ several times and failed several times. But the way I look at it, at least I tried and getting 25k written is better then a big fat zero.

My plan for this year is to write about 10k the first weekend. I like to get a bit of a cushion underneath me. That way if there is a day where I am sick or life really gets in my way, I won’t panic about not making my word count. The first year I failed was because I got very behind, couldn’t catch up, and got frustrated. And having a plan in advance should help me stay on top of things. (Year three I learned I am NOT a ‘pantser’-someone who writes by the seat of their pants; having little idea of what they are going to write.) But on the other hand, I’m not a 100% planner. If I do that I find I grow bored and won’t want to write my story. One of the joys of NaNo, is that it has taught me a lot about writing over the years.

Here’s a few things I have learned  in the last few years. Maybe something here will help you too.

1- Index Cards. These beauties is what always help me get to my goal. I will be opening a crisp new pack today. I use these for outlining my novel. I take a card, and write a few words about the opening scene. Then I take another card, and write an event. After writing five to ten, I lay them out, and see what order I want them in.  I start filling  in the gaps, adding new scenes, events, and characters. When I finish, I stack them and keep them together with a large paper clip. I will look them over during the next few weeks, adding cards or even removing them. I don’t outline the entire novel, but the basic outline and important things I want to remember. It helps for when you get stuck and to help keep you on track.

2-Have a bible. No, I’m not talking about the religious type. I mean a notebook you can keep on you at all times. In it, have character sketches, story notes, and anything else important you your story. If you happen to be out and have an idea, scribble it in for later. If you are at home (or where ever you happen to be writing your novel), having it at hand helps when you forget the smaller details, like what kind of car your hero drives or what color eyes your heroine has. In my book I have character notes and sketches, pictures (of what they look like, important things in their life), and since several of them are vampires, I have vampire lore and mythology that I have created for my world.

3-Shutting up that inner critic. For years every time I wrote something, getting to the finish line was long and tedious work. I was constantly stopping and editing what I had written. My inner critic loved to tell me just how shitty my stories and ideas were, and I listened to him a bit too much during the first draft. Nano taught me how to turn that part off. In order to get to the 50,000 word mark, you (well, at least I don’t) have time to stop and nit pick with the story. The idea of this is to finish a first draft, and to show you that it doesn’t have to take ten years to write a novel. Now when I am writing something, for Nano or otherwise, I don’t have that pesty bastard ruining my momentum. There will be many writers next month thinking “This is total shit but keep going!”

4-Laying out the ground rules to family. I have already told my fiance that I am not to be disturbed unless it is an absolute emergency. Well, when I’m in my office that is. And my friends already know that come November, I am essentially M.I.A. I’ll be devoting my free time to writing. Because of this, when ever I have to do edits on a story that is getting published, writing for the fun of it, etc…I get left alone. They know and respect how much it means to me and that sometimes I just need to get shit done. Of coarse, there will be some people in your life that won’t understand, but luckily for me everyone in my life is used to me saying “Sorry, I can’t go out. I’m writing.”

5-BACK UP YOUR WORK. This is the most important thing I can think of, and I like reminding writers (both the newbies and veterans) because it is something that people tend to forget.  I know a few people who learned the hard way how important it is to back up their novel. I save mine onto two memory sticks. Everyone has their own methods, but for the love of all that is holy, save that sucker in at least one other location aside from your desktop.

Every writer is different, and these things are what works for me. What do you do in prep for Nano? What are the things you have learned from doing it?

Hello, October!

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My favorite month of the year has FINALLY arrived! *happy dance*

There is so much about this month that I love. Hot chocolate, cool evening walks, Halloween, and the VERY important life event- the return if ‘The Walking Dead’! The countdown is on!!! 😀 (11 days to go!!! WOOT WOOT!!!) Who else is ready for some zombie ass kicking?!

I’ll probably be doing several autumn/Halloween posts during the month. There really is a lot going on for me during October. I think a big part of my love for it is Halloween. But I’ll save that for another day.

Another big thing this month is prepping for Nanowrimo. If you don’t know what it is, Nanowrimo is National Novel Writing Month, which takes place the month of November. The idea is to write a 50k word novel; a first draft. Since this is done on the honor system, you get more out of it if you don’t cheat. My first year was amazing. I wrote 25,000 words in the first three days, It started on the weekend, I had a basic outline, and I was full of excitement. In the years I have taken part, I have failed a few times but I don’t get down about it. Better to have written something, than not at all. So during October, I will be finishing character sketches and creating a rough outline. If you are interested, go to Nanowrimo.org and check it out. 🙂

My October has rung in with a migraine, so I have to cut this a bit short. I do plan to enjoy the brisk air this evening with a walk, and curl up with a book if my headache decides it is finished with me. What things about October do you love the most?