Full disclosure: I’m not Catholic, but I could really use the divine intervention of saint Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers and journalists — I am both — to sort out the mess my series notes have become for the Heritage Verse, thus saving me from a madness of my own making.
When I wrote my fantasy series, I meticulously plotted out a series bible for it (a paper binder at the time). However, with my sci-fi novel, I have engaged in rather opprobrious cataloging efforts. I will have people remark when I’m explaining world-building elements that it’s pretty incredible the amount of information I have and they always ask how I keep it all straight. The answer? Very poorly. I’m trusting my brain too much to remember it all, and now as I’m diving into the sequel novel, I am finding that some information is slipping, meaning lost writing time as I have to pause and refresh.
And that is where a thorough series bible would come in handy. For those who are diving into series, series bibles really are essential. When you are world-building, there are so many details to keep track of, and without a series bible, some of those details are going to fall through the cracks. In my own experience recently, I am finding myself going back through my published book more than I thought I would need, and it would just be so much easier and quicker to have a document that tracks everything I need for continuity as it pertains to characters, plot, and world-building elements.
I do have a series bible started on OneNote, but I have not been diligent in storing information in it. The bulk of my world-building and character details resides strictly in my brain or in various scraps of paper and a physical notebook that is dedicated to the series.
This is no fault of OneNote, which I have found to be a fabulous resource for world-building and character development (also college history notes back in the day). I have divided my Heritage Verse notebook into several different tabs: a series outline tab, character tab, a world-building tab, a species tab, and a random bits tab. Within those tabs, there are numerous subpages. For example, I have an entry for every character under the general character tab. While those tabs are incomplete or filled with placeholder text, the entries I do have done have really sped up my reference checks.
OneNote is by far the easiest and most useful note-taking app I’ve used so far in my life. Though I had forgotten about it after college and had taken to using Evernote; I loved its browser add-on to save links and webpages. However, when Evernote switched to limited screens, I started to look for other options since I go between a cellphone, laptop, and desktop computer. OneNote does not have that restriction, and I have actually found its interface to be more in line with what I need.
I love the tabs, pages, and subpages, plus the color-coding options that are available. They make navigation a breeze and allow me to break down information for quick consumption. Since starting this post, I’ve begun filling out my neglected series bible, and I’ve found the practice encourages me to ponder various world-building aspects, leading to some great breakthroughs. It’s a great practice and I would really encourage it.
OneNote allows you to insert tables, files, pictures, links, online videos, and even audio. It’s just super versatile. OneNote also offers drawing and handwritten note capabilities, though I haven’t used this feature at all; however, I know other writers would likely find it super handy, especially if you want to capture designs that are specific to your world.
Do you like a lined notebook aesthetic? You can even add lines in to make it truly resemble one. It’s just a nice added touch.
With diligence, I’m sure I’ll fill out my series bible, but even with each step of progress, there are moments where I just feel overwhelmed and filled with regret that I let it slip for far too long. Don’t make the same mistake. Get it all down in whatever organized manner works best for you!