The Big Bad Bio
I’ve talked about Bio’s (Character Biographies) before in “Who’s who in the grand scheme of things”. Now that I have a few books under my belt and I just finished my newest novel(Super excited) I wanted to talk about Bio’s again. I’ve had some time to work out the kinks and hone the process.
I’ll start with my how. Whether it’s a pad of paper, word document or my personal favorite a spreadsheet, I think it’s imperative to keep a Bio on EVERYONE in the story. Even if it’s the crotchety old neighbor who only shakes a fist at the protagonist and is in the story for all of one second.
Because, if I know what they look like, their quirks, age, DOB, family status, level of education, job status, pay rate etc. etc. then I can always make sure John, the Virgo barista has blond hair and brown eyes and doesn’t magically have green eyes and become the bartender who’s birthday is in January. Consistency is mega important and any reader who’s read a book and found something off… tends to never forget and never fully forgive, especially if they find two or heaven forbid more than two.
So what does a big bad bio of mine look like? If I have a simple one page Bio, it will look like this:
I often don’t apply a year to the DOB because I don’t apply a year to my stories. This type of quick bio is good for quick references. If I want to go into more detail, I will create a full-page bio for each major and minor character.
Which details I put in are usually story driven. If I only ever have Jane wearing cut-off jeans and that’s important to the story I put that in her bio.
Here is a list of things I might have in the bio. Now if I have a lot, and I usually do I’ll have more than one page for the bio. I will either create an individual Bio page for each or I’ll group Bio Stats one page would be appearance another would be behavior and another might be education and employment.
Not all individual bio’s are equal. Obviously, the main characters will have much more detailed bio’s than Albert the hotdog vendor. Repeat or reoccurring characters get a little more TLC than Pauline the bitter angry bus driver who hits the brakes too hard at every stop.
Here is a list of what I might include
Birthdate or DOB
Type of music
Style of Clothes
The options are endless, ideally, they would be listed if there is a significant difference or if the character is minor and I might forget. Some of the things may never even be mentioned in the book. I’ll still give each character a full bio. I’ll even give them a history or back-story. It’s important when I’m writing to be able to stay focused, and having to stop and go back pages or chapters to remind myself of one tiny detail is annoying and distracting.
My advice about Characters Bio’s.
There is no right or wrong way to create a Bio as long as you can read it and understand what’s what. They are very important and I think they can make things a lot easier if you decide to have a return visit from a minor or very, very minor character.
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