How to create a book series bible

You may have heard authors, particularly authors of book series, talk about their ‘bible’ when discussing their writing process. And no doubt you realised they were talking about the notebook or document that helped them to keep track of characters, relationships, settings and other important information in their book or series.

But have you ever wondered what exactly goes into a series bible?

When I started writing The Mapmaker Chronicles, my first epic adventure series for kids, I leapt into book one and, well, made it all up as I went along.

When the time came to write book two, however, only three or four months later, I quickly realised that I was going to be in big trouble if I didn’t find a way to keep track of the details. Like a character’s eye colour, or their nickname, or which branch of the family tree they were perched upon.

So I pulled out an old-school folder and set about creating an easy reference guide.

Also known as a series bible.

How should you set up your series bible?

Anywhere you’ll be able to access it without drama.

If you’re like me and can’t read your own handwriting, you might like to type up your initial notes, then either put them in a three-ring binder or store them in a folder on your computer.

Other authors prefer to handwrite in a notebook, sticking in research and pictures to remind them of settings or character features.

It’s entirely up to you – just remember you might be referring to this set of notes for many books to come, so leave room to expand.

What goes in your series bible?

I divide my notes into two sections: characters and setting.

Every character in the book gets a page in the character section, outlining the following:

  • name/nicknames (including who calls them that name)
  • physical description (including any changes that may occur – and when they occur)
  • habits and special traits
  • particular phrases or words they use all the time
  • small details like favourite colours, foods they dislike, particular anecdotes they’ve told (when and to whom)
  • key relationships with other characters (a family tree for instance)

In The Mapmaker Chronicles, I kept a list of which characters were on which ships – and when and where they might have ended up in a different crew.

Every character, no matter how minor, gets a page.

What about the setting?

Keeping track of the details of your world is just as important, particularly if you’re creating that world from scratch for a fantasy series

A map of your world is an ideal tool for inclusion, as is a list of every kingdom, country, fief, territory, town or village you mention. Proofreaders will always want to check the spelling, even of made-up words, and consistency is absolutely key to keeping that world believable across multiple books.

A description of key features of the places your characters live or visit will also be helpful.

If you’ve created your own language within that world, include a dictionary section – you may believe you’ll never, ever forget the meaning of a particular word or how to spell it, but my Mapmaker series is nearly nine years old now and, well, let’s just say the details can get hazy (not ideal when you’re in schools talking to kids about a character with a photographic memory…).

I’d also suggest a timeline of key events in each book – where and when they happen, including the season, so that you don’t end up with two summers very close together across two books.

Other sections in your series bible

Depending on what you’re writing, you may need to add sections for technology (science fiction or historical), magic (to keep track of your magical systems and spells) or other powers.

In other words, anything that you need to keep the details consistent from book to book.

Once you’re done … you’re not done. The key to creating a workable series bible is to keep updating it during or after the writing of every book in the series.

That way, when you get to book six and you need to know exactly where your character was on a certain day in book two, you’ll have the answer at your fingertips – and even readily searchable, if you keep your bible on your computer.


Author bio
Author Allison Tait smilingAllison Tait is the author of three epic middle-grade adventure series for kids: The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. A presenter at AWC and former co-host of the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast, Al is currently editing her latest middle-grade novel The First Summer of Callie McGee. Find out more about her at

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