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Organizing your Universe?

I have some issues on the organization of my fantasy story.

For instance there are many factions that come into play during the story and I being a very thorough person am very well aware of the discomfort caused by story inconsistencies. I want my story to be perfect (understandable) but have some issues finding a way to achieve this in a easy manner (of course a story can't be perfect but I want to get as close as I can). I like to think of myself as organized but in reality I am half-organized sometimes chaotic sometimes organized and it has turned out it is an issue to my writing.

I get confused on which character had this and that characteristics and his setting because he wasn't that important at given moment of the story and he is now mentioned in a given paragraph and I myself do not remember him! This not only happens with characters but also with settings and descriptions of environment. I already drew maps that have helped me greatly at spatial organization, but as the story lengthens and new characters appear it becomes more complicated. What suggestions do you have to solve such an issue?

You will likely say that the problem is inherent to the complexity of the story and that one can do a epic story being simple at the same time (I am rather skeptical about that) because I feel that a rich epic story has a complex and richly described setting. Being consistent is part of its richness.

I already made a guide document but wanted to know if there is a standard process to do this, while reading the Dark Tower Epic story of Steven King he says that he needed such a guide but he doesn't explain how did he achieve it.

Many thanks and sorry about the length of the question as I try to be as specific as possible to prevent unrelated answers.

Question: How to organize content of long story to avoid inconsistencies?

  • Sorry, what is your question again? Can you add a 1 sentence question at the end? Oct 14, 2011 at 8:25
  • 4
    Waiting for Lauren suggesting Scrivener ... Oct 14, 2011 at 8:39
  • Done, although needs context. :-)
    – Jose Luis
    Oct 14, 2011 at 8:52

3 Answers 3


The method I'm familiar with is a writing bible - a document where you're constantly recording any new information you add to the world; any new detail you want to be committed to throughout the book.

At its simplest, this is literally jotting down any new concrete detail you add. If your write `"Jurgen's eldest brother Bob was the snootiest accountant he'd ever met," then you'll add a few notes to your bible document:

  • Jurgen has more than one brother; the eldest brother is named Bob.
  • Bob is an accountant. He's snooty.

This might seem excessive, but I think you'll find you're only adding in concrete details every now and then - action and interaction between the characters won't need much new detail in your bible.

You can browse through your bible occasionally, to make sure crucial details are fresh in your memory; you can also scan it every now and then to see if you've put in actual inconsistencies.

Here's an article about making a Writing Bible; it gives a lot of suggestions on what kind of details can go into it, and also how you can naturally use Word headers to help you organize your bible extremely easily.

Hope this is helpful!


Far be it from me to let my fans down... ;)

There is no one standard way. I have found that my old friend Scrivener is great for this.

You start by gathering your information about your world (characters, settings/places, plot events, world-building notes) on Scrivener pages. Just infodump. Then you create folders.

Everything about your characters goes into a Character folder (protagonists, antagonists, friends, allies, neutrals, hostiles, enemies, NPCs, people of myth, people in the government).

Everything about your world and its customs (eating, sleeping, housing, clothing, marriage/relationships, parent-child relationships, jobs, death rituals, money, magic, familiars, evil beasts, good beasts) can go into a World folder.

Notes about your plot (general broad outlines, scenes which occurred to you out of sequence, character moments you'd like to include) go into a Plot folder.

Any research you do (how to build a world, things you like about other fictional universes, names, mythology, writing tips/tricks, the hero's journey structure) goes into a Research folder. And so on.

Once of the nice features of Scrivener is that you can create internal links, like a website. Let's say my main character Abby is a mage. Her main weakness is that because she got her magical powers from a dragon, she can't attack dragons. Dragons have scales everywhere except the backs of their legs, where a poisoned dagger or arrow will kill them. You need to remember this so during a big battle, you can recall that she can't attack the dragon, but her trusty sidekick Hepsibah the centaur can.

So you have your "dragons" document in the "beasts" folder in the "world" folder. You just drag the "dragons" document right into the window in the middle of Abby's character document, and it creates a link to "dragons." As you're fleshing out Abby's character and the plot, you'll have that link to remind you (even if it's six months later). You click on the link, it takes you to the dragon page, and now you're reminded of the dragon's weak spot.

As you create your plot outline (whether it's a literal outline, a series of bullets, a snowflake, whatever), you can drop in as many links as you need to remind you of critical bits of information.

  • 1
    Great resource I am now using it and learning its many features. Thank's a lot.
    – Jose Luis
    Oct 15, 2011 at 15:14
  • 1
    Yay, another convert! :D Oct 15, 2011 at 23:43
  • 1
    Spreading Scrivener one writer at a time.... Yay to @LaurenIpsum
    – MSO Writer
    May 21, 2017 at 12:57
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    I for one like how this answer doesn't just say "use Scrivener, it does this", but that it actually tells you how to use Scrivener to accomplish the goal. The few sentences on the mechanics of how to actually do it makes a big difference IMO.
    – user
    Feb 22, 2018 at 18:12

Other software for making a story bible:

The tricky part is keeping it up to date when you change things and remembering to look at it.

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