Character Bibles

31 Oct

So what’s a character bible then? Quite simply, it is the details of your character. Maybe they have one eye, which features in the story; but they may have a mole on their ear also. This does not feature in your writing, but it should be recorded if this is how you picture your character.

What if I do not have an image of my character? You need to start thinking about them more. What role do they play? What is their significance?

A character bible is not just about appearance. It is the foibles we each have, a love of cream cheese, a twitch in the right eye, an obsession with rugby…only watching, never playing. Why not playing? Well you tell me. Does the twitch in the right eye hold some significance?

What does rugby have to do with my story? Probably nothing, but think about your friends and family. They can be involved in your life, yet aspects of theirs do not cross over. This is about creating well-rounded characters. As an author, knowing your character before telling the reader about them. If you can do this, and do it well, your readers will identify with your characters better.

Plot is important, but more often than not that plot is driven by the characters themselves. If the reader cannot feel a connection, the plot seems less plausible.

Try writing one story without a character bible, and one with. It makes a huge difference. Not only that, when you are writing chapter twenty-seven and you have forgotten what colour your protagonists eyes are, it saves reading back through everything.

That’s not to say your characters cannot development. Just as we can change, so can they. Keep your character notes developing with the story. This may seem like a unecessary task, but believe me, this really works.


9 Responses to “Character Bibles”

  1. mvdcbhass February 21, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    1hWvxO lthzeftuujyh

  2. usikzlfa February 18, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    JO96rR ulgctbjfzzqo

  3. Parthena February 18, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    It’s a relief to find someone who can explain tignhs so well

  4. submeg October 30, 2011 at 5:35 am #

    This is what I am currently what I’m doing. When I first thought about writing out my characters, I wondered – what makes up someone? What makes them different from other people? That’s when I came up with my character mind map. (

    Once I have the basic structure of each character, I will write up a back story to the characters. This way I will have some background on each, which I can draw upon when writing the story. It will also stop me from portraying some information which I contradict later.

    • Ellie October 30, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

      Since writing this post I have had discussions with others about really making the character alive within their appearnace. Slightly cheating perhaps, but I can be frequently found chopping up clothing catalogues and making scrapbooks of definite outfits, to even the way the hair is worn. I then use interior design magazines to create the scenery. One thing is certain, you never forget who they are!

  5. Nicole March 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Its great advice. I think I have a picture of my protagonist in my mind. I might not have all of her personality traits down pat (like her favorite sports, food etc.). Maybe I will keep writing and her traits will develop more. I don’t feel like I’m one of those writers whose character pops into their head fully formed. I will have to work more on my character sketch for sure. Thanks for sharing this post.

    • Ellie March 18, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

      I always start with the basics and then add as I go along – all part of a natural development i think!


  1. Writing Is Like a Box of Chocolates « Elena Ransley - July 22, 2011

    […] came up with an idea, worked out your plot, detailed your chapters, created character bibles for even the guy without a speaking part, and then used the post it notes to move the characters […]

  2. Developing your Characters – What do you recommend? « Reading, writing and the bits in-between - May 26, 2011

    […] Character bibles. Using each of these strengths, makes notes of who each character is. If they are timid, with mousey brown hair, glasses and stammer, will the reader believe they are able to take on the government? If the answer is no, will we see a development in their persona to make it more believable, or have we just got the wrong man for the job? […]

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