Using a Character Bible – Is it worth it?

Brand new year, brand new chance to work on a new book. But you might want to check out Don Massenzio’s timely post on Character Bibles first. I know some of you are diligent about this, but for those (like me) who have been careless in this regard, Don’s post is a good place to start thinking about getting organized so you don’t forget those important details from earlier books. Check it out, and then please consider passing it along so others get the reminder, too. Thanks, and thanks to Don for giving me a nudge in the right direction. Great post! πŸ™‚

Author Don Massenzio

As I embark on my next writing venture after a 2020 hiatus, I realized something. The equation of my age plus the stress of 2020 and the length of time since I’ve written a Frank Rozzani book has added up to me forgetting the details of many of my familiar characters. I remember reading a while back about having a character bible, a book of character profiles. The article I read talked about how this is especially important if you write a multiple-book series with the same characters.

At the time, I said to myself, β€œI’ll never forget these characters. They’re part of me.” Well, as I get older, I’m pretty sure there are actual parts of me that I’ve forgotten.

As I try to write for my tried and true characters, I find myself searching my previous books for things like dates, names, hair and eye color and other…

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18 thoughts on “Using a Character Bible – Is it worth it?

  1. Very timely.
    Weirdly, I’m in the process of working on mine right at this moment! And wishing fervently that I’d done a better job of it as I went along, instead of needing to backtrack, and search my earlier books for missing details.

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    • That’s exactly where I’m coming from, too, Debby. GAH! Why didn’t I think AHEAD and do this as I went along? Now it’s a “better late than never” sort of thing, but I DO intend to get these done. It will sure make things easier as I work on new stories. And it kind of makes me glad I don’t write epic fantasies like yours, wherein there are usually WAY more characters and details to lose track of. GOOD LUCK, my friend! πŸ™‚ And thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol, I have done it, but not been religious about adding all the characters details. Duh. So time consuming catching up after the event.
        I won’t be making this mistake again – have fun looking back over yours as you bring your notes up to date. It is lovely to take the time to read back over earlier books – I spend time thinking ‘wow, did I really write that?’ – but it does hold up the new work 😦

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    • We’re in the same boat, Deborah. I’m on book six of my series and, with the vortex that was 2020, I’m having to go back and skim my previous books. Thank goodness they are in electronic form where I can search for names. I’m reluctantly going to use this technique so that I can save time as I move forward.

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    • I was happy to share it, Don, especially since it’s a timely subject for me, too. I think many of us who’ve written a series are in the same boat and are ruing our lack of those critical details. For me, I don’t necessarily do a full-on description in one go, either. Often different tidbits are doled out over time, and tracking them all down is going to take a while. But I figure if I do one character at a time, I can spread it out a wee bit, and still be working on my next project. Ages are trickier, as I don’t always get specific about those, but as a series continues and time passes, it’s probably a good idea to remind myself my characters haven’t been standing still, frozen in some vacuum or other.

      Oh, yeah. This is absolutely necessary, and I’m going to start working on it immediately. Since my current WIP is set in Riverbend, I’ll start there, with the infamous Painter brothers. Which reminds me, I ALSO have to organize my Writing folder and all the subfolders within, if I actually want to find things I did save for future reference. (Including my Character Sheets, incomplete though they might be.)

      Now just look what you’ve started, Don! *tsk*
      πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

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      • I’ve also painted myself in a corner. My book has been like having a car up north during the winter that hasn’t been started in a while. You’re afraid to turn the key because you know what will happen. I need to put in a new battery and cross my fingers. The character bible might be just the charge I need.

        Liked by 1 person

    • There are lots of ways to go about the process, Yvette, a story bible just being one, but at least you’ve been keeping track. I’ve never done so, and now I really NEED to. Wish I’d been more organized from the start, but in my defense, I never expected to write more than one book.

      Wake-Robin Ridge was a bucket list thing, and I crammed everything I could into that story, thinking it was a “one and done” kinda deal. Next thing I know, I’ve got two active series going and a trilogy of novellas, and that’s not even counting my book of poetry. So, it’s catch-up time for me, and Don’s post very helpfully pointed the way. I’m gonna get it done, by golly, and no more trying to remember whether I described MacKenzie Cole as 6’3″ or 6’4″.

      Let us know if you decide to gather all your character details into a story bible or not. And good luck with it, if you do. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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