WRITING FEATURE Book Bibles (part two)

As we discovered in part one, a book bible can be an extremely useful editing tool. Annaliese Avery gives us her top tips for creating one.


If you want to create a book bible, here are my five tips. They took me a while to realise — and I hope they help you.


Tip no. 1

Find a medium that works best for you. That might be a physical document — as a fan of bullet journaling and the keeper of a writing bullet journal, I can definitely see the tactile appeal of writing down information or annotating the page and drawing maps etc. But you may find that keeping a digital book bible on word, or scrivener, or good notes, works better for you. It’s all about finding the best way for you to work, so don’t be afraid to change things if they aren’t working or stick to them if they are, even if someone is doing it differently. Your book, your bible, your way.

From Annaliese's handwritten book bible for The Nightsilver 
Promise and The Doomfire Secret

Tip no. 2

When it comes to what to put in your book bible, trust your creative intuition and look to your work. It might be really tempting to put lots of information into your book bible, like that 500 year history of the world that you created during worldbuilding, but really you just need the bit that is important to your story – so if only the actions of the 3rd emperor have an impact on your story include those in the book bible.

London above and below

As with choosing your medium, choosing what to put into your book bible should come from you and be relevant. Maybe one of your friends has a detailed hand drawn map of their world, then accounts of each of those lands, their people, their economy, their beliefs, and their societal norms, but you might not need all of that. You might only have one city that your story takes place in and only a few places within that, and that is fine — that is all you need. So, although it might be tempting to take inspiration from other people and their book bibles, remember this is a document for your story and is a tool for you to use when editing that story, no one else’s.

A clockwork universe...


Tip no. 3

I covered this earlier, but don’t make the book bible too soon. Wait until after you’ve completed the first draft. Remember as you create it that a book bible is an evolving document, it is something that you will change and add to as you edit your novel thus deepening and expanding your knowledge. As such you will need to be prepared to come back to the book bible regularly to add and remove information and keep it up to date – it is no use as an editing tool if it doesn’t reflect your story.


Mythology and geography for Annaliese's fantasy worlds

Tip no. 4

As well as editing and changing, some things will become more solid as you edit, these ideas, notions, elements will become canon – concrete elements of the story that will not change as you edit through draft after draft. You might want to come up with a system of visually seeing this information in a way that is different from things that might change as you edit.

Albion, the seat of control

Tip no. 5

Your book bible doesn’t need to just contain text. Mine includes images, links to Pinterest boards, Spotify playlists and YouTube videos that explain aspects related to my stories. I’ve also uploaded my own pictures and maps too. Your book bible can be a rich source of media that instructs and informs you, and anyone else who you choose to share it with, about aspects of your world that are important.


If you do have a go at creating your own book bible you will find that there are some resources out there you can call on; how to books, downloadable templates, etc. (see part one). These are great places for inspiration but don’t treat them as gospel. Developing your own sections and areas of interest that will best serve you and your story is more important than filling a space that someone else has created.

With thanks to Annaliese for giving us a glimpse of the marvellous and complex worlds of The Nightsilver Promise and The Doomfire Secret.

*Header image by Kourosh Qaffari, unsplash.com.

All other images: © Annaliese Avery

Did you enjoy this feature? Please comment below and/or share on social media.


Annaliese Avery is the author of The Nightsilver Promise and its sequel The Doomfire Secret. In 2020 Annaliese was one of SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices winners. Since then her books have been received with much acclaim both here and in the US. Annaliese is an active and inspiring member of the children’s writing community. www.annalieseavery.com


Fran Price is Deputy Editor of Words & Pictures magazine. Contact her at deputyeditor@britishscbwi.org


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