The Electronic Story Bible – Indexing


A week or two back, I talked about the concept of a story bible, a document or notebook of ideas to help keep your novel or series of books in order so you can be consistent in small details that matter to your work.

Today, I’ll share how I’m setting up my electronic version of Daisy’s Story Bible. And yes, I keep both an electronic version and paper notes (to me there is nothing like the feel of moving your pen or pencil across paper, and I don’t want to lose that happy feeling ever).

First, I have to say that I use Microsoft Word for much of my writing.  I like Apple’s Pages, but there isn’t the universal buy-in of that software yet.  So let’s work with a blank Word document.

To be honest, I have been spending a lot of time on You-Tube recently to set up my Word docs. World of training videos out there.

For my Bible, I will want an index for quick reference.  Do I have to wait until all the content is complete to do this? No way.  Waiting would defeat the purpose.  Writing is a fluid activity and you need to be able to go backward, forward and every spot in between as you write.

So:

  • Open and save a new document: My Great Novel.
  • Add content.  This is not hard.  You’re a writer, right?
  • Now, let’s say you’ll want to be able to come back to some expression you’re using – your character’s eyes, for example.  You’ve just written, “Jake had beautiful brown eyes.” Let’s index the word “eyes.” Select that copy.
  • Go to your Insert Menu (not in the working page, but at the top of your screen) and choose the Index and Tables option.  A window will pop up to show you what you’re working on.  Select the Index tab, if you’re not already on it.Screen shot of selecting text for indexing
  • On the Index window, click “Mark Entry” and a new window will pop up.
  • Now think like an index-er.  You could leave your entry with the word eyes, but if you use the sub-entry “Jake’s eyes” then you’ll be able to add info on all of your characters’ orbs and quick reference them in your index.  How cool is that?
  • You can mark either that entry of eyes only or the first occurrence of that entry which EXACTLY matches your term in every paragraph. Up to you.  I just selected Mark as the option for this example.
  • When you return to your document there is some funky looking code there.  Don’t worry about it. These bracketed items are to tell Word you want “eyes” indexed.

Now you need to actually create your index.  You can do this with a wizard or you can create one from scratch. Unless you’re very particular, I think it saves time to use a wizard:

  • Screen shot of creating an IndexGo to the place in your document that you want to insert your index (front, back – your choice). Click where the index goes into your document.
  • Visit that trusty ol’ Insert Menu again, Index and Tables, Index box. There it is. You recognize this from the last set of steps.
  • This time, look for the Format: box in the lower left side.  You can choose from multiple formats. Play with the options to see what you may like.  Samples show in the Preview box. Click OK. Done!

This is so easy, I want to index all my writing efforts.  Grocery lists! Poems! To-Do items! I will be a master of organization!

Okay, getting carried away again.  You get the point.  Have fun writing today. Let me know what you’re working on.

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