Thursday, January 17, 2013

What's in a Character?

It's Thursday, oh my! One more day until the weekend and you can all relax into your planned debauchery for two days. Today's post will be about character bios. So, grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

What is a character bio?

Basically, it's a white paper on each of your characters that tells basic information. In order to portray a rounded character on the page, you need to understand why they'll react in a specific way in any given situation. To prevent screwing up things like age, height, or description, you need something you can reference quickly without having to scroll through your whole manuscript to see what you said about this or that. It helps you keep your story straight.

That's all well and good, but what should you include in a character bio?

Some of the same items on your Timeline should be included in your characters' bios. Here's a list of what I include - you may want to add to this.
  • Full Name - First, middle, and last along with any other names they've had along the way.
  • Location - Where they live, where they were born, if different, why it changed.
  • Age - Includes birthday, zodiac sign, and recent celebrations.
  • Physical Description - Height, weight, hair color, eye color, shoe size, skin color, manicure?, pedicure?, hair length, eyebrows (V shaped, bushy, pencil thin, etc...), identifying marks, for women: bra size.
  • Mental Description - Self centered, egotistical, timid, brash, vengeful, etc...
  • Reasons for Mental Description - What happened in life to make them that way.
  • Friends - Other characters. Are they major? Minor? Plot changing?
  • Relationships - Spouse, kids, parents - with names and nature of relationship.
  • Goals - What their ultimate life goal is.
  • Career - What they do or want to do.
  • Skills - Any skills they may have.
  • Magical Powers - For fantasy or paranormal. Can they shoot fire from their asses? Lightning bolts from their eyes? Levitate? See through peoples' clothing?
  • Sexual Orientation - Straight, gay, bisexual, etc...
  • Fun - What they do to let their hair down.
Again, feel free to add to this list. But if you fill out all of the above for each of your characters, major and minor, you'll have characters that feel real on the page because they're real to you. Fully developed and fleshed out completely.

I hope this helps in some small way.

Is there anything you include that's not on my list? Care to share?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. Love this article! Great tips. I've started something similar, but I see some areas I've missed. Thank you for pointing them out and helping me become a better writer.

    1. Thank you, Charles! Welcome to the blog :) I hope the tips help. If you have questions, don't hesitate!


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