Whenever I create a world, I start at the beginning with a brief history run down. When did people first arrive, how did they settle, what were the turning events in history, and how did they reach the point they’re at.
From there, I decide my different cultures. What do those cultures hold important? They live at the top of a mountain where one area is temperate but the rest is a near endless blizzard? They pray to Winter and that it will never touch their blessed portion of land.
Their ancestors at the base of the mountain have decent growing periods and a history of brave men who led them to the green pastures? While they still worship Winter because their forefathers did, they more so revere their ancestors for the traits they wish to emulate.
I flesh out the religions, the cities, the heroes, the spirits, the magic. Maybe flesh out is a strong word. I create guidelines.
With G’desh I kept most of this in my head. There’s a tricky thing about a head, though. First, it can be severed. Second, and more pressing to most people, it forgets and twists memories.
Enter the writer bible.
I have a few journals. These are the ones I could find. Each one holds a world. The history starts the book off, followed by a break down of “modern” cultures relevant to the point in history I plan on writing.
While I still use this as a guideline to help me move forward, and information in the journals change, it gives me something solid to work from. If I have a question about a city or culture, I have a place to look. If I want to know the literary devices I’m using for a certain world (each one is a world, even if the worlds connect, and each world has a mythology which inspires it, and I try to stay true to the source material), I can easily look it up.
There are those who probably think this is only for fantasy and science fiction, but to you I say that’s not true.
For a murder mystery, if you need to keep track of clues, where people are, time lines, and so on. What’s the motivation for the murder? Never forget.
In historical fiction, this is where you keep your reference notes. What were Napoleon’s phobias or who was Elizabeth’s lover in a certain year all at your finger tips without having to do another Google search or, more laborious, looking through a book.
For romance, you can remember how you described the protagonists nipples. I didn’t even realize that was something they super cared about until my friend thrust a romance novel on me. Pun intended.
Writer bibles aren’t always physical. When I’m actually solidifying the ideas from something that will ebb and flow, they end up in Scrivener. Some people use Evernote, or whatever other program they prefer. There are at least a dozen I could name off the top of my head. Some have specific functions, such as time line programs. Others are broad, but a little more difficult to manipulate.
Either way, the writer bible is important for your writing in some form or another. It will minimize inconsistencies, make it easier for you to remember details, and make edits much easier. If you’re doing a series, this is even more vital, as it will let you keep your series straight. Get a journal, get a program, and write it up.