In the previous edition of Creating a Story Bible, I talked about the journal and a little bit of how and why I use them for my novel projects. Now it is time to take a closer look at Index I, why I have chosen to include the types of information I have, and about my process of choosing what information belongs in the story bible and what doesn't.
In addition to sharing the image of Index I, I am going to type it out in its entirety, in list format:
Description – Page Number,
World – Continents – 1, Countries – Azenith – 2, Theocracy – Danar – 3, Monarchy – Kelsh – 4, Monarchy – The Rift – 5, Oligarchy – Clan Lands – 6, Oligarchy – Crimson Isles – 7, Aristocracy – Feralas – 8, Aristocracy – Therna – 9, Junta – Mithrias – 10, Minor Countries – 11-12, Covenant of the Six – 13-14
Section Two: Trade – 15,
Trade – Alliances – 16, Trade – Supply and Demand – 17, Trade – The Wanderers – 18
Section Three: Magic
Magic System – Arcane – 19-20, Magic System – Divine – 21-22
Section Four: Divines – General – 23
Divines – Selestrune – The Silent One – 24, Divines – Other – Major – 25, Divines – Other – Minor – 26
The Rift – The Rift King – 29-30, The Rift – Guardians – 31-32, The Rift – Riders & Horses – 33-34, The Rift – Traditions – 35-39, The Rift – Culture – 40-42
Section Six: Kelsh – General – 43-44
Kelsh – Trade & Culture – 45, Kelsh – Knights & Yadesh – 46-47, Kelsh – Military – 48, Kelsh – Religion – 49, Kelsh – War – 50, Kelsh – History – 51
Section Seven: Danar – General – 52-53
Danar – Religion – 54-55, Danar – Military – 56, Danar – War – 57, Danar – Trade & Culture – 58-59, Danar – Priesthood – 60-61, Danar – Blood Magic – 62, Danar – History – 63
Section Eight: Creature Listing
I'm not labeling out this section because it wouldn't make sense to you even if I did. There are 6 pages worth of notes on one species of creatures in section eight. This section should include details on the history of the beast, the anatomy of the beast, its food sources, habitat, and so on.
Section Nine: Legend and Lore – 70
L&L – Founding – Rift – 71, L&L – Creation – Yadesh – 72, L&L – Splitting of Kelsh/Danar – 73, L&L – Danar Desert – 74, L&L – Gate of the Crimson Isle – 75, L&L – World Spine – 76, L&L – Prophecy – 77
What does all of this Mean?
As the Index I of this novel, I use labels and structure that let me quickly grab the page number of the general section I want.
These are the most important facts of my world, in relation to my novel Storm without End. In other words, it isn't all of the information about this world, but the information of this world relevant to that book.
This is a step-by-step breakdown on why I view these things as important:
Section One: World Overviews – Countries
This is an extensive section because Storm without End is an epic fantasy. This means that the story impacts the entire world. As such, I need to know a lot about the world. The countries with their government types listed are the active players in the game.
Each of these headings has a short blurb about the kingdom, general location, and very brief history of its rulers, list of allies, and list of enemies.
Common information about Countries includes a basic description of the ruling parties (or individual or organization) of the country, their general stance, their allies, their enemies / foes, and any important information regarding prejudices, trade ethics, general ethics, and things of that nature. I try to keep it consistent, but the truth is, countries are so varied in my world that I often cannot.
Once again, I say, “Do what works for you and your novel. This is what works for me.”
Trade is a two part deal. First, it is an indirect listing of the available resources of countries. This is important information. Countries live, grow, and die based off of the resources and wealth around them. People go where there are the requirements for life or where the resources lie.
This is why I dedicate so much space in my journal for trade. When in doubt, look at a map of modern countries and then look at the landscape and terrain and the manufacturing that is resultant from that terrain. Studying real-life trade will help you build realistic fantasy.
The Rabid Badger says, “Geography is a good skill to have for this. Getting this section done properly takes research, time, and a lot of effort. Write it in pencil. You'll need to fix it later. Repeatedly. Snarl-hiss-slobber-foam. Kiss, please?”
Section Three: Magic
In fantasy, this is often a hefty tome of a section. My magic system is simplified, and I write it in short hand, so I can fit a lot on few pages. My magic system took me ten years to develop. Do not be surprised if you dedicate 10 or 20+ pages to establishing your magic system.
I recommend dividing your magic systems by type. Magic granted by the Gods is much different than magic granted by nature. It's even more different than magic fueled by things other than elements.
I recommend basing your magic off of physics and sciences. Wait, what? That's right. You heard me: Base your magic off of reality.
When magic becomes a fireball, you will have all of the sciences of an explosion happen. Linking your magic to real sciences will make your magic stronger. And, after all, to the uneducated eye, the power of a magnet looks like magic, even when it is science!
Like trade routes, magic is something that is extremely easy to get wrong, and extremely hard to make believable. Write in pencil, because you will need to make adjustments later.
Section Four: Divines
The Gods, Goddesses, their powers, and the realm they live in are covered here — briefly. Just enough detail for me to work with in the novel. I only expand on the two major divines that play the most critical role, and the others are listed to tie in with the religions that serve important roles in the world.
Remember, folks: Just because a religious group believes one thing does not mean that the reality of the Gods / Goddesses / Divines in your world match what the religious group believes. That is why I have a section dedicated to the divines and sections dedicated to religions. They're two different things for all they are connected.
Sections Five through Seven – Kingdom Specifics
This is one of the most comprehensive sections of my story bible for Storm without End. This is the most important tidbits of information about the major countries that are dealt with in the novel. In further books of the series, I will have to expand this to include more sections, but for book one, these are the players. These are the countries that live — or risk destruction — due to the events in the book.
Once again, every country is different, so all of the sub-sections vary for them. Once again, you have to go with what works for you and your novel.
Section Eight – Legend and Lore
This is where you detail out the major world-changing events that happen during or prior to your novel. Each event should have an approximate on when it happened and why it is so important. Give as much detail as necessary for the event to make sense to you and remind you of its importance.
Prophecies should be written out in full whenever possible.
“Remember,” Rabid Badger says, “these notes are for you and you must pick the method that works best for you.”
I recommend leaving blank pages at the front of your journal for an index and then mark in what items are on what page after you have filled in the journal or while you are filling in the journal. When you start, you won't be able to guesstimate as easily as I can — after all, I've done this before, and I know how much material I have for each and every section.
The next installment of the Creating a Story Bible series will be about the characters.