Somewhere along the second draft of The Fifth Brother, Glynn and I started to realize how many people, locations and events are featured in the story. Three novellas in, our growing saga has over fifty named characters, four significant animals, and all sorts of action taking place in three different locations. With several more tales to go, I began to wonder if we were doing a good job of keeping track of things.
I shared my vague-ish concerns with the Good Witch. She reminded me that people who write television series have the same type of worries. Then she did a very nice thing, finding me an actual series bible. (If you’d like to see one, too, go here.) Series bibles/show bibles/story bibles are the way t.v.-people keep a show from going off the rails. I’d heard of such things, but the Freaks and Geeks PDF was the first time I’d actually seen one. I thought it was fun and interesting. Enlightening, even.
If the concept is still a little fuzzy to you, it goes like this: Series creators and show runners will often create a show bible before or, sometimes, after a television show goes into production. This written guideline allows them and their roomful of writers to keep track of a program’s characters, interests and interactions. Long-running shows update their bibles as the show proceeds. For example, the “Jerry Seinfeld” character of Seinfeld was famously a Superman fan. (Jerry: “I think Superman probably has a very good sense of humor.” George: “I never heard him say anything really funny.”) It would have jarred viewers if the television-version of Jerry had suddenly begun to reference a different comic book character. Say, someone like Deadpool. (Deadpool: “Shhh. My common sense is tingling.”)
So when I recently discovered that Glynn and I had described one of our minor characters as coming from Philadelphia – and then, in a later story, as coming from Boston – my common sense started tingling. In order for us to remain on top of all of the bits and pieces in the novellas we’re scribbling now and in the future, I decided one of us needed to write our very own story bible. On reflection, this sounded like a lot of work; I mean, the F & G bible is 55-pages long. Creating the Brothers Bible would likely be a time-consuming exercise. I didn't particularly want to do the job because, above all, I thought the task sounded boring.
I’ve never for a second thought that writing fiction was boring. Ever. Sometimes, it’s difficult and frustrating . Sometimes, it’s a struggle, and, on occasion, it leaves me doubting my abilities. But I am always engaged and interested.
I hate boring. You might think everyone hates “boring”, but this isn’t so. The Bad Witch advised her daughter to find a boring profession: “No one else will want to do it, and you’ll have job security.” That is possibly the worst career advice I’ve ever heard a parent give her child.
I knew the bible needed to be done, but it’s hard for anyone to do a chore well if they approach it with a sense of dread. Then Glynn, my sweet innocent partner, asked me if I'd thought about what I might want for Valentine’s Day. In that moment, I knew EXACTLY what I wanted.
When I told him, he smiled. I suspect he was worried that I’d want something new for the doll case, and he never knows exactly which one to get. He told me, “I’ll be delighted, my Valentine.”
I’m pretty happy about it, too.