World Building

Recently, in my work-in-progress, I had to step back and compile a “bible” for a secret society I’ve created. I didn’t think I’d been all that technical when I laid it out in a previous book, DEFENDING DESTINY, but as it turns out, when writing rules, one doesn’t necessarily remember every detail. Hence the “bible.”

Do you like to write or read books in a series? How critical are you if a defining characteristic of a character or setting changes from book to book?

I’ve read eighteen books by a well-known author who only writes one character. When that character’s height changed by an inch in one of the books, I noticed. Did I stop reading? NO. But it did pull me out of the story.

Another bestselling author with many books in a series didn’t make an error in his fictional world from book to book – he did it in the first three pages of the same book. A female character went from being a redhead to a blonde, and NO ONE caught it. That book went on to sell millions of copies. I guess mistakes like that don’t kill the big boys.

I, for one, don’t think they should.

Magician's Chalice

Still, I’ve built my “bible” and I’ll be building another as soon as THE MAGICIAN’S CHALICE has gone through my editor’s fine tooth comb.

Any mistake stories you’d like to share? After all, even writers are human.

Happy February,


14 thoughts on “World Building

  1. Leigh, when I started my zompoc romance series I knew I had my largest cast to date and I would have to do something to remember details, so I used index cards and a whiteboard to keep the characters straight. The most common mistake I find in books is interchangeable character’s names. Obviously, all the Find+Replace didn’t work. LOL

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  2. First, I applaud you for the painstaking time it must take to build a secret society. It’s fairly easy to change a character’s age, hair color, age, etc., especially if you don’t keep track. If you begin with a brunette and change that to blonde without making the change on your spreadsheet, or whatever venue you use, then it’s too easy to pick up the first character’s information and carry it through to other books.
    Yes, I’ve found discrepancies that dragged me out of a story when I’ve read previous specifics in an author’s chapter or paragraph has switched.
    Good luck with your latest book!

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  3. I’m currently writing the first book in my fourth series. I think maybe this time I’ll get it right! While I’m hoping that there will be more than three of these books, I plan on writing them in threes. I won’t publish the first one until the second one is finished and third is completely outlined. That way, if I have a good idea–I’m not bound by the rules of the first book.

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  4. Oh, yes, a bible is good for a series. It’s also a good idea to keep a master file of names–people, businesses, and places–just in case you decide at a later date to revisit that book and write a sequel. Also keeping a cross-referenced master file keeps you from repeating names. (I can’t remember the author’s name, but she used the same hero’s first name in 3 books I think.)

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    • I usually keep a notebook for each book with pertinent facts, research points and a character sheet—generally only a page or two—detailing everything you’d find on a driver’s license along with primary motivations, likes, dislikes and favorite snacks. I learn a lot about my characters by knowing what they snack on :).

      I know what you mean about repeating names. For secondary characters, I seem to default to the name, William. Odd, I know, especially since I only know one William and he’s still a child. I’ve only used the name William once. Still, the name pops into my head whenever I need a mentor-helper character who’s male. I don’t use it, but it sure pops into my head.

      I haven’t done a master list of names, but I’m going to now!

      I do have a number of “name” books, many of them Celtic. Going through the books and picking out names that have certain meanings is always fun. Thanks for the information, Joan. I’ll be working on my master list!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, how I wish I had started a list when I started my River City books. You don’t want to know how many times I have to go back and look up the spelling of a name or some tiny detail. At least I made a map. It’s primitive and done with Post-It notes.

    And I have used a name twice for a hero. Fortunately it’s a common name and not in the same series. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I think of how many people I know named: John, Dave, Mike, Mark, Mary, Ann(e),Chris, I shake my head. Of course if you’re using common names they may show up more than once when you’ve got several books. It’s the rare ones like, Ichabod you probably don’t want to use more than once πŸ˜‰


  6. I’ve never had to create a “bible,” but I do need a calendar for my Calendar Girls series. Since each book takes place in a different month, I have to track the dates. If October 31 is a Saturday in one book, November 1 better be Sunday in the next!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m no good at finding mistakes in books when I’m reading–so you’re all safe with me! Unfortunately, I have a very poor memory for detail and have to rely on my outline with details about each character. I always assume I don’t know the correct info so I won’t type in anything without consulting the outline. I do not trust myself to even remember my own Chauffer’s name!

    Liked by 1 person

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