Heart Breathings

Using a Wiki For Your Series Bible

April 18, 2019 by Sarra Cannon

Writing Tips

There are lots of options for how to keep track of the information you’ll need to remember in a long-running series, but one of my favorite ways to keep a Series Bible is inside a private Wiki. Keep reading or watch today’s video to find out why a wiki can be a great choice for your Series Bible.

Why You Need A Series Bible

First things first. Why do you even need a Series Bible?

If you’re only writing one or two connected books in a world, you might not need one. However, once you start moving into three or more books that share characters, a magic system, or occur in the same town or area, you’ll start to understand why a Series Bible is such an important resource.

When I started writing Beautiful Demons in 2010, I only intended the series to be a trilogy. That always makes my husband chuckle now, as I’m currently working on Book 11, and there are several spin-off books and novellas in this same world.

Needless to say, I didn’t immediately start a Series Bible, because I didn’t know I would need one. I thought I could keep most of the information in my head just fine or pull out the manuscript of the previous books to research a topic if needed.

By Books 4 and 5, however, I was in way over my head. There were so many details to my world that I had to keep straight and consistent throughout books. Everything from character descriptions to locations and magical powers became important facts inside my world that needed to stay consistent throughout each book.

This is why any writer working on a series of books set in the same world needs a Series Bible. One of the most important things across books is consistency, and if you write in a world or town or across a group of characters, it’s just difficult to keep it all straight.

The last thing you want to be doing is going through each individual books, trying to find a character’s hair or eye color or whether you mentioned their last name at some point. Keeping all of the facts of your series world in one place is going to help you stay consistent without spending so much time scouring your older books looking for details.

I started with just a three-ring binder, but as my world expanded, I realized this was not going to work, either. As much as I love working on paper for so many things, I decided that the most efficient way to keep a Series Bible for a larger series was in a digital format that could be easily searchable and would have the ability to be cross-referenced in a single click.

This is where the idea of using a Wiki came in.

Using A Wiki For A Series Bible

I have heard of other authors using programs like One Note, Evernote, and even Word for their Series Bibles, but when my husband heard what I needed to keep track of, he suggested using a private Wiki.

Here are some of the features I love most about Wikis:

  • They are almost always hosted on a webpage, which means that as long as you know your login, you can access your Wiki information from any computer, anywhere in the world.
  • You can easily structure a Wiki to have high-level folders to keep your main categories organized, and then you can have nested sub-folders and pages inside those main folders. It keeps everything nice and neatly organized.
  • Wikis are easily searchable. Looking for everything in your Wiki about a certain character? Just search his name and every single reference to that character on any page or in any folder will come up at the click of a button.
  • You can easily link any text on any page to the text or entries on another page. For example, if I’m on Harper’s main page where I keep all of my information about her, and I reference a specific place she’s been to like Shadowford Home For Girls, I can simply highlight Shadowford Home and hyper-link that text so that a simple click will send me to the page dedicated to Shadowford Home. For research purposes, this is brilliant and makes things go so much faster! (To see an example, watch my video above.)
  • Since a Wiki is a webpage, it is super easy to collaborate with other authors, readers, or your assistant. As long as you add someone as a user to your private Wiki, they can help you edit or research. This is great, too, when you are writing a series with other authors. Rather than having to go back and forth in emails about the world building, you can simply keep everyone’s information in a single Wiki, making the collaboration so much easier.
Creating a Series Bible inside a Wiki.

What Types of Information Do You Keep In A Wiki?

Now that we’ve gone over some of the advantages to using a Wiki for your Series Bible, I want to briefly touch on what type of information you need to keep inside your Wiki.

Here is a list of the things I try to make sure I document in detail for my Wiki:

  • A dedicated page for each character, where I keep track of any facts related to them such as hair and eye color, age, height, parents’ names, their relationships to other characters in the series, their magical powers (if writing fantasy), and any other distinct things readers know about this character. If they have a signature way of dress or certain expressions they use often, I document it here. I also keep track of locations they’ve been to and why, encounters they’ve had with other characters, and important snippets of their backstory that may come up in later books.
  • A dedicated page for each location in the books. This goes for everything from towns to buildings. If a place shows up in my book, it gets its own page, where I include any details of its description such as what it looks like, where it is in relation to other places, what occurred there, and who visited.
  • Organizations get their own page, as well. Since I write a contemporary fantasy world about witches and demons, there are several organizations of power that play important roles in the books, like the Order of Shadows. I keep a folder for each of these organizations, explaining what we know about their membership, leadership, rules, and purpose.
  • Special Items also get their own folder and pages. Here, I’m talking about spellbooks, weapons, rings, necklaces, or any other special item that has played some purpose in my books. I include a full description, a reference image if I can find a good one, and details about who used it or how it showed up in the books. If an item has a specific magical property, I keep track of that, as well.
  • The magic system of my fantasy world also gets its own special folder. Since most magic systems have specific rules for how they operate, I have found it useful to keep track of any of these rules mentioned in the books, so that I can stay consistent about them in the future.
  • Book Covers, Titles, and Summaries are also vital when it comes to the Series Bible. I have a list of all the books that occur in my world, what order they go in, a copy of their cover image, and a full summary of the main plot points of the book inside a “Books” folder in my Wiki. This helps refresh my memory of important events and story threads that need to be carried through.

This is a good summary of the most important things to track inside your Series Bible Wiki. If you’d like to see a more dedicated post and video about how to set up your Series Bible from scratch, how to structure it, and what to track, please let me know in the comments.

Do You Have A Series Bible?

I’d love to know in the comments if you have a Series Bible for your own works or not. If you do, what are you using? Is it meeting your needs?

With most things, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and different authors will find different resources and tools that fit their style of learning and tracking information. I’d love to hear what you use for your Series Bible and how it’s working for you!

However, if you’ve never had a Series Bible but have been looking to start one, I hope you’ve found this overview of a Wiki helpful.

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Sarra Cannon

4 comments

  1. Cecily Wolfe says:

    Thank you! My daughter is working on a YA fantasy trilogy and after we watched this she is determined to create a bible on a private wiki so we can use it together (I’m helping her). We both love your videos!!

  2. Brigid Ashwood says:

    Yay! This is awesome. Thanks Sarra! I just started using https://www.worldanvil.com/about which is a world building website that started for RP and D&D I believe, but they are geared toward authors too. It’s way too much fun.

    1. Sarra Cannon says:

      I know some people who use World Anvil! It looks pretty cool, but I’m afraid I would get lost over there!

  3. GJ says:

    Sorry, but I can’t find the link to the wiki site. Please could you post it Gain? Thank you.

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Sarra Cannon

Hi, I'm Sarra!

I have been self-publishing my books since 2010, and in that time, I've sold well over half a million copies of my books. I'm not a superstar or a huge bestseller, but I have built an amazing career that brings me great joy. Here at Heart Breathings, I hope to help you find that same level of success. Let's do this.

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