Any author worth her salt (who does not want to go nuts later) keeps what’s known as a series bible to go along with any series she writes. This is where we (theoretically) keep track of things like hair and eye color, relatives, interests, occupations, and all the myriad of details we don’t want to muck up in later books. And even with series bibles, we sometimes still make mistakes. :nobody saw me change the name of Gerald’s personal assistant in Be Careful after publication: Series bibles are totally handy to keep track of all that stuff, ESPECIALLY when you have an ensemble cast like I have with Wishful. I’m keeping up with a whole TOWN.
Readers have trouble keeping up with huge casts as well. Sometimes they’re big messy families. Sometimes not. But either way, it’s a nice thing to have somewhere readers can turn to find out “Who was so and so again?” “How is she related to him again?” So I want to create that for you. But I haven’t found a mechanism or format I really LIKE yet. I’ve got something set up at Trello right now, but I really don’t like it at all. And part of that is that I kind of don’t know what you as readers want.
A family tree for the big messy families is a given, but that doesn’t get at the scope of all the characters who are not Campbells or Montgomerys.
What do readers want out of a series bible?
- Vital statistics?
- Which books they appear in?
- Brief summaries of who they are?
- Who they’re related to?
- Who they’re friends with?
Would you rather have a single page that lists characters by the book, focusing just on the hero and shero of each book, a la Fool’s Gold? A downloadable list with every character listed (even the small ones) like this one? Or would you rather have individual pages for each character, linked up in a more complex wiki style thing?
Granted, I’m going to be looking at this as both a reader and a writer… but I don’t think that’s the problem that it used to be. A lot of us online are both these days…
So, my take on the matter (I just ran through the Fool’s Gold links), is they work, but I actually like the wiki-style thing better. The ability to hyperlink between characters and pinpoint where and when they met/meet is kind of nice. Thing is… how do you limit this to only stuff already read? Too much story bible can be a buffet of spoilers. So, maybe the shorter, the better… at least until someone has reached a certain point in the series?