New Writer’s Secret #1: Character Bio

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose. ~Stephen King

What I get from King’s quote is this: We (new writers) must take the time and discipline to create a thorough background for our characters, and then we must completely let go.

There is so much to think about in the writing process, so a great place to start is a thorough character bio:

Kirsty Mitchell Photo

  1. Character’s name (Silly I know, but it avoids all characters ending up with only first names) πŸ˜‰
  2. Nickname
  3. Age
  4. Height
  5. Weight
  6. Hair
  7. Allergies
  8. Accent
  9. Family
  10. Heritage
  11. Passions
  12. Vices
  13. Dreams
  14. Goals
  15. Friends
  16. Enemies… see full list Here

And then the character takes over. Once we give the proper background, and we let our imagination go free, our characters seem to come alive and tell us where they’ll go in the story.

The key is in the development phase. Do your story justice. Spend time on the research and background for your characters. A little TLC goes a long way. πŸ™‚

Authors who create great characters create great books.

What’s your secret to giving your characters the depth and synergy that they deserve?


3 thoughts on “New Writer’s Secret #1: Character Bio

  1. You know looking at this list you think that this would part of writing 101, But sadly we have authors like Stephenie Meyer that made the main protagonist into one the most hated, loathsome characters in fiction and completely disregard these fundamentals. However authors like Game of Thrones writer George R. R. Martin, a prime example of a writer that uses this list to the fullest, creating some characters that are fleshed out and memorable whether you love them or hate them.

    In regard to your question (at least from my point of view), for the purpose of story telling a writer really can’t hold back any punches. Take for the example Diablo 3 novel The Order, Deckard Cain is a character that at times seems like a heartless character but when you tell of the guy’s own personal history you can understand how and why he is the way he is, here is a guy that not only lives in one the hostile worlds that I ever came across in fiction but has a tragic history even before the events in the first two games in the trilogy.

  2. I just completely avoid making lists like this. The relevant stuff tends to appear organically in the actual writing. Accents will show up when they start talking, goals and vices will show up when they start making choices, and physical elements are rarely useful except relative to other characters: who’s taller, who’s better-looking. Even then, I generally leave it up to the reader. I guess we’ll see how it works out for me. πŸ™‚

  3. I adore these types of character descriptions. Anything that forces us as creators to discover a little more about a character is alright in my book. At times, it’s not that easy to do all of the background details early on but when these are filled out as much as possible the character can start making decisions in our stories on their own.

    Thanks Genese! Great blog!

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