Ben Wilson, Author

March 30, 2024

The Series Notebook: A Game-Changer for Fantasy and Sci-Fi Writers

Are you a speculative fiction writer looking to create a captivating fantasy or sci-fi series? Do you struggle to keep track of your story-world's intricate details, character arcs, and overarching themes? If so, it's time to consider creating a Series Notebook.

A Series Notebook is a comprehensive tool that helps you develop and maintain consistency throughout your speculative fiction series. It serves as a centralized resource that details the scope, rules, concepts, themes, characters and parameters of the story-world in which your series takes place. By having all this information organized and easily accessible, you can focus on crafting engaging stories without getting lost in the details.

The "series bibles" used in television production inspire my use of a Series Notebook. These bibles are contain all the key information about a TV series, including character profiles, plot outlines and worldbuilding elements. They ensure everyone involved in the production, from writers to actors to set designers, clearly understands the series' vision and maintains consistency across episodes and seasons.

Authors such as Brian Sanderson have reference to their use of series notebooks. When I was at the 20 Books Vegas conference in 2022, a panel of sci-fi authors mentioned they write about 50-75,000 words about the setting before they start the first novel. It is useful for managing your worldbuilding. (BTW, author James Peet has a good presentation on geography and worldbuilding.) This would fit with the use of a series notebook.

The notebook helps me organize my writing process. I've used one in various forms over the years, both in Scrivener and Markdown/GitHub. Here's how I organize mine, roughly:

  1. Overview (tagline, premise, target audience, genre and tropes, themes and motifs)
  2. Series Outline (series synopsis and treatment)
  3. Story World (setting, history, magic system, social structures, etc.)
  4. People (key characters; main characters and supporting characters)
  5. Places (key locations)
  6. Things (key items)
  7. Book Treatments (detailed outlines for each book in the series)
  8. Visual References (inspiring artwork, character designs, mood boards)
  9. Glossary (terms, names and concepts specific to the story-world)
  10. Future Ideas (brainstorming and planning for future books)

Fellow writers, do you use a Series Notebook or a similar tool to help you develop and maintain consistency in your fantasy or sci-fi series? If so, what sections or elements do you include in your notebook that aren't mentioned here?

Ben Wilson, Author

About Ben Wilson, Author

By day, I navigate the complexities of information technology. By night, I craft enthralling worlds of Science Fiction that inspire and captivate. But I am a family man all the time.
Author of the Postal Marines series.