Keeping my world in order

That sound ominous, doesn’t it? Fortunately, I’m talking about the world I create on the page and not my real life (which I suspect may never be thoroughly ordered).  Following up on Deb’s post about organizing, I thought I show you a peek into how I organize my writing world.  See, I do like to keep some things organized!

Anyway, the majority of the paranormal romance stories I write are all set in my Beautiful Creatures world. After about book #6, when characters from previous stories started popping up in current works, I realized I needed to keep better notes on them, because I was literally paging through the published books to find out what their hair color was, or what their job was, or where they worked. And so the creation of my world bible (see pic above).  I love this thing!

It’s divided into various categories.  I’ve got a Creatures section so I can keep notes on what vampires can and can’t do, or if angels have bellybuttons (they do not) and other important facts.  The Map section has elaborate maps of Minnesota and Paris with all the characters’ homes marked.  I’ve got a list of Nightclubs, because I have a tendency to have a lot of nightclub scenes (go figure) and usually name them after colors.  Club Violet, anyone?  There’s info about special groups. You’ll see The Order of the Stake pop up next year in some of my releases.  A list of Packs and Tribes is essential, and who heads them and who has been banished (and/or killed).

My Character pages are most important. I list: full name, born, location, profession/breed, partner, married, children, friends, family, enemies, hair color, eye color, distinctive marks, tribe/pack, traits, Book title, Other books they appear in, Notes on everything from favorite foods and sayings, so important things they’ve done they may have an effect on other characters in the world. Also, I include a picture for reference.  And I’ve got characters in my book that I haven’t even written about yet, but they may pop into my brain so clear and full-formed that I just have to take notes for future reference.

Whew! Whoda thought I’d be keeping such an elaborate system just to keep my world straight? Well, it’s kind of fun, and I feel sometimes like these are my people.  I can do anything with them!  And heck, it gives me a good excuse to buy office supplies.  I think I need some new page dividers.  Hmm…

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12 Responses to Keeping my world in order

  1. Terry Odell says:

    I really need to do this. I’ve got 4 Pine Hills Police books, 4 Blackthorne, Inc. books, and am now on my second Mapleton Mystery. This is the second blog post I’ve seen on the topic this morning. Maybe the cybergods are telling me it’s time to keep more than sketchy notes and rely on “find” in Word.
    Terry’s Place

    • michelehauf says:

      I think it is a sign, Terry. 😉 I always tell people, whether or not you think you’ll be writing one or 100 books in a series/world, start taking notes NOW. Because if you have to do like I did and go back 6 or 7 books and catch up, it’s a pain. And again, good excuse to buy office supplies, right?

  2. Michele, this couldn’t be timelier for me. I just finished the second book in a projected series, and I had to look back at the first manuscript several times. I knew I needed to do a bible like this, but I figured I’d get book 2 done and then worry about it. I finished the book this week, and it’s time to worry about it!

    These are great tips. Thank you for sharing.

  3. leannebanks says:

    Michele, you’re amazing! My organizational system is a batman notebook…. I definitely need some work!

  4. Cindy Gerard says:

    Wow. Just wow! Are you and Roxanne related? She is one of the most organized people I know but this is, well, just soo cool!!

  5. Hi Michele,
    Yep–I do ring notebooks for every book—and if its a series, then I’m even more thankful for a centralized area for the maps I draw of the towns, diagrams of houses, a single document with lists of character details (that I keep adding to as the stories unfold), timelines, charts for what happens in each scene and chapter (written after the scenes are done, not before), conflict grids on the heroes and heroines, backstories, etc etc. I just couldn’t ever keep things straight otherwise.

    But how cool–with your world building, that you go even farther, with setting up and recording all of the world rules to remember all those extra details! And I love that you use pictures of characters. I’ve never done that, and I need to start!

  6. debradixon says:

    A concordance is a beautiful thing! My series authors generally keep them and I have one copyeditor that I like to use who does a lovely complied style sheet for the manuscript and I try to use her for each book in a particular series just so the author has someone with continuity in the series. The devil is in the details on these things.

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