The “Novel Bible” is a tool to help you keep track of your plot, settings, and characters.
It’s really just a spreadsheet with columns for chapter, scene, scene summaries, POV, the characters in each scene, the location of each scene, X number of columns for subplots, then a space for notes, and word count.
Here’s what it looks like:
In this example, I’ve broken down chapter 1 of Alice in Wonderland. I’ve color coded the POV. I also color coded the action: blue indicates sitting around, green indicates suspense, red indicates action, and purple indicates magic.
If you’re interested, I’ve made up a sample you can download here: Series Bible Sample
While I’m writing the first draft, I’ll fill in the Novel Bible with a sentence or two about what happened in each scene. I’ll also make notes about what to add or change as I go along.
So with a quick read of the Novel Bible…
- I’m reminded what happens in each chapter, and this helps me identify the major plot holes quickly.
- I can see the POV distribution at a glance: I check if they are spaced adequately, and identify which characters need more scenes, which need less.
- Color coding the action helps me check the pace of the story: if it’s all red in one place then maybe some of the action needs to be spread out, if it’s all blue, then I better break it up with some suspense or action.
- I also can see if I’ve tied up all the subplots.
I’ll print out the spreadsheet, cut apart chapters scene by scene, and rearrange it like this. Keeping track of the chapter number and scene number helps me locate each scene in the previous draft quickly. The Novel bible has made going through revisions a little more manageable.
How do you keep track of your novel? I want to know.