Fantastic Friday Writers - Character Bible

Author: Anastasia V. Pergakis // Category:

This week for Fantastic Friday Writers, we are talking about what things we put into our character bibles. Now a character bible is basically everything you write down or collect about your characters.

My character bibles are HUGE. As I said in last weeks post, I start off with a small interview of the character to get the basics. I type this up, print it, and put it in the notebook. (All my novels are in a 3-ring binder (for series) or a noteb0ok (standal ones) with dividers for "Characters", "Setting", "Extra Notes", and "Plot")

Then I fill out the character sketches. This takes some time as I am constantly updating it. I fill it out initially and print it. Then if some new information presents it self, I hand write it onto the page. When the page is finally cluttered with hand written notes, I'll type up a fresh copy and replace the old one. The character sketch contains things like physical description, to twitches and mannerisms, to what their favorite food is. Every detail I would ever need to know about them (and more) goes into this sheet.

Recently, I have begun to create timelines using excel. These are really interesting as they list by date (or even time) important events in my characters life - even things that happened before the novel started. I go all the way back to when they were born! (Which for elves and faeries that live a few thousand years, that's A LONG time.)

I also make timelines of the plot with each major character side by side on the same sheet. This one I actually add to the "Plot" section in my notebook, but it could be in my character bible too.

At some point, I begin creating avatars. None of my characters really like this process much, as it does make them look rather cartoonish, but I still have lots of fun with it. I print out the avatars and make notes about their style of dress in major scenes in the story. For example, I would make a note of every day attire, then notes about what they would wear to the wedding or funeral or whatever event that takes place in the story. If time permits, I might make extra avatars with the different style of clothing, making small notations of where this outfit shows up in the book. Mostly, it's not the characters' looks perse but the clothing style that I use the avatars for.

Like I said in my last post, I'll let my characters have fun outside of my head by chatting with other characters or authors. I don't print these out as they get rather long (and I use up a lot of ink with the avatars anway...) but I do have them in the folder on my computer where the actual MS is kept. (Basically, the folder on my computer is a duplicate of what is in my 3-ring binder.)

What about you? What goes into your character bible? Check out what the rest of the Fantastic Friday Writers put into theirs!

6 Responses to "Fantastic Friday Writers - Character Bible"

Eric Says :
December 17, 2010 at 10:06 AM

Wow, this is a very involved character bible process. It sounds like you have a good handle on it though, and probably your characters are likewise completely three dimensional. Thanks for sharing it with us.

N. R. Williams Says :
December 17, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Currently I add information to a word.doc as I write. However, having a printed back up is a great idea. Now if I can just get organized. Hmmm.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Dawn Embers Says :
December 17, 2010 at 11:12 AM

You didn't even post the link to the 500 question character sheet you have on this blog. No surprise you would have a lot on your characters with something like that up.

While I've used most of the questions from your old post before, I don't often write characters sheets. At least, not before writing. I will sometimes do it but it's not something I need to have done in order to write. Sometimes I just go with what I have in my head over the character and nothing more. Though having the character blog will help with some of them.

Alex J. Cavanaugh Says :
December 17, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Now that's detailed! I really do use Cliff Notes.

Anastasia V. Pergakis Says :
December 17, 2010 at 6:27 PM

Eric: I sure hope they are three dimensional! :) It is time consuming sometimes, especially when I really want to get to writing the story, but it's worth the wait.

Nancy: I print everything out and save double copies of it on my computer, jumpdrive and my hubby's laptop. I also keep a copy that I emailed to myself - so that way I never lose the entire story!

Dawn: I thought to link to the questionaire, but since I haven't really USED it in full for my character bible yet, I didn't.

Alex: Cliff Notes is okay! Whatever works the best for you is what's important!

Revelation Painter Says :
December 17, 2010 at 8:33 PM

NICE POST! I love the thought of using a spread sheet.

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