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Monday, March 28, 2011

Organizing Your World

Please welcome guest blogger Michele Hauf

This is not about world-building, but rather, how to keep your big ole universe nicely contained and in order so when you need to remember if your vampires can go out in sunlight, or if your werewolves can have sex while shifted to wolf/man form, you know exactly where to find that info.

As paranormal/fantasy writers we create elaborate worlds. The world building is intricate and unlike any other 'world' out there (we hope). Often we feature secondary characters from a previous book in a new story, or have recurring characters, familiar locales, or even specific jobs related to the world. Recently, as I was writing book # eleventy-something-or-other in my world, I wanted to feature a character from book #2 or 3 and actually had to dig out that book and reread parts of it to familiarize myself with the character. It was high time to start a World Bible.

So I'm going to tell you what I do, and then I'd love it if everyone would share how they organize their worlds. We can learn from each other and pick up new ideas!

First, the cool thing about this project is you get to go shopping at the office supply store. Who doesn't drool over office supplies? I bought the fattest ring binder I could find, with room to insert pages on the fronts and backs. I put a picture of my world logo on the front to make it all official. (Seriously, it's too cool.) Inside, I went crazy with the dividers and created various sections such as:

CREATURES: This section has one page for each creature in my world, listing their attributes. As I add new creatures I can add new pages, and as I learn or change attributes I make updates. Of course, I start with a Word file and then print out each creature on a separate page. You can buy pre-punched paper for ring binders, so just print it up and you're ready to go!

TERMS: We all have terms specific to our worlds. But can you remember what you called the vampire's blood hunger ten books ago? Keeping a term list is essential. Print it up and put it in your binder for easy reference.

MAPS: I have a map of Paris and Minnesota because those are the main settings in my stories. I mark where characters live and if I have a nightclub in a specific location.

PACK/TRIBES: My werewolves run in packs and the vampires form tribes. It's helpful to me to have a list of each because there are many. You can do this for groups, clans, klatches, covens, etc.

QUOTES: Sometimes a character will say something that really defines him/her. I'll copy that quote in this section should I use him in a future story and want quick entry into his thoughts.

NOTES: This section can be for notes on your world, significant organizations or groups and events. I actually have to keep track of all the nightclubs because I am a addicted to using nightclubs in my stories.

OTHER: Here I list other characters that were never big enough to garner a secondary character status, but who knows, I might want to use them at some time. I also keep a list of books by title, and what characters are in each book.

You can have as many sections as you like. Have fun with it!

The biggest section is an alphabetical list of characters. Under each letter I have a page for each character. And on each character page I list these details: Full name, Born/Age, Location, Profession/Breed, Partner, Married, Children, Friends/Family, Hair, Eyes, Distinctive Marks, Looks like (because I use pics, sometimes of movie stars, when writing), Traits, Book (pubbed book they appear in), Other Books (if they showed up in other stories), and finally Notes, where I list all the important details I think I might want to know about the character. I also put a picture on the page.

The character section is so valuable. I use it almost daily. Sometimes updating as I learn new things about characters, but a lot of times, just checking for the facts that have slipped my mind.

That is my World Bible. I cherish it because it's filled with all the people I've created. It's a tool that is important to me. If you want to see a streamlined version of my Character sheets and term list, I've created a 'nightclub' online where readers can go to learn more. I don't list all the details, but after all my hard work of putting together the bible I thought it would be great to be able to share it with others. And what perfect opportunity for readers to learn if one of their beloved characters shows up in another book. Find it at: clubscarlet.michelehauf.com

Now you tell me what information you put in your World Bible. I can't wait to share info!

Michele has been writing romance, action-adventure and fantasy stories for over nineteen years. Her first published novel was DARK RAPTURE.

France, musketeers, vampires and faeries populate her stories. And if she followed the adage 'write what you know', all her stories would have snow in them. Fortunately, she steps beyond her comfort zone and writes about countries she has never visited and of creatures she has never seen.

Michele blogs all over the internet. Check her Blog page to track her.

Michele can also be found on FaceBook and Twitter.

Seducing the Vampire

He was mesmerizing, a vampire like none other...but the fire between Viviane LaMourette and Rhys Hawkes would begin a centuries-long clash between two powerful vampire brothers.

In Marie Antoinette's Paris, the beautiful vampire Viviane seeks a male patron who will allow her to live on her own terms. Courted by two feuding brothers, Viviane succumbs to the handsome rebel, Rhys. She's unaware that Rhys has other, darker, motives. He seeks vengeance against his brother, Constantine—by stealing Viviane and tainting her with his blood.

But just as Rhys is realizing the depth of his love for Viviane, his brother takes his revenge.

Two centuries later, Rhys hears the urban legend of the Vampire Snow White, imprisoned deep in the tunnels under Paris. He must find her and set her free, but will he be able to save her from the evil still intent on destroying them?


perisquire30 said...


I'm liking the idea of your Book Binder! Right now, I'm working out of a handwritten book bible notebook, but I can see that as I go along, moving everything to a Book Binder makes more sense. You do realize I'm quickly becoming a Staples addict! LOL! Thanks for the links---LUV your site!

perisquire30 said...

OOOPS! Sorry! Forgot to leave my signature on my last post! Blame it on not having had breakfast yet! I may have to head to Staples later...

~Roni Lynne
YA Adventures in the Paranormal...and Beyond!

Michele Hauf said...

Roni, any reason to buy office supplies is a worthy reason. ;-)

Alexis Morgan said...

Great post! I don't use a 3-ring binder, but I do use a plastic bin for each series I write. I bought them at Storables (second only to office supply stores for fun shopping. They're designed to hold hanging folders, so I keep my character sheets, etc. in them.

Besides the things you mentioned, the one thing I do that helps me is to use graph paper to draw out any house/condo/lab/office that I use in my books so I know the layout from one book to the next doesn't change. The other option, esp. for houses, is to download floorplans and use those. Faster, for sure, but then I don't get to play with colored pencils.

m3mnoch said...

personally, i use tiddlywiki. it lest me tag and label and easily cross-link little bits of content. i can just write and in-line create a link to the flesh out my new idea later.

you can even tag each bit of content with specific keywords to group them together... kinda like your content headings. i've got tags like "groups", "minor-characters", "nobles", "cities", etc.


oh, and you don't kill trees by constantly revising and printing them again when you add to them. or need to scrawl pen marks all over the printed versions as you revise and annotate.


m3mnoch said...

oooh. and here's a great video talking about how you can use tiddlywiki for world building.



Sharla Rae said...

I do exactly the same thing with a 3-ring binder. My critique pals laugh at how organized I am but the binders really do save my sanity. Each binder gets the title of the book or working title along with "Help Notebook."
Sharla Rae

Michele Hauf said...

Alexis, great idea to draw the house plans! Oddly, I have about three different house plans I've used over and over in my stories. Readers will never know. ;-)

Must check out tiddlywiki!