Friday, December 17, 2010

What do you put into your character bible?

A character bible is not just for characters but can also be used to keep track of historical events, locations and items.

In the “Lord of the Rings” series some data that would need to be kept track of was Middle Earth itself, the geography, weather etc. The ring and its power and history could also have its own bible.

For my “Character Bible” I have a brief history of the world, legends, religious belief of societies, wars and disputes between clans, mythology, prophecies and anything else that my character or the reader will discover throughout the book.

When I’m keeping track of a specific character I usually draw or find a picture of someone who looks like how I imagine they would be and paste it into my CB.

Other common things I add are:







Physical characteristics: hair color, race, body type, scars, tattoos, human vs. non-human)

Natural reactions when they are nervous, mad, in love, happy, scared.


Destinies, missions or quests

Significant trinkets (a sword, ring or necklace)

History: past, parents, trauma, discoveries.

What motivates him or her?

Special friends

Special teachers

Goals for the future

Beliefs about the world

Beliefs about themselves

Energy level

What kind of person would this character fall in love with?

What makes them angry?

These are just a few ideas.

Get to know your characters.
I spend about two weeks getting to know my characters before I start writing. The better you know your characters the more they will help you write the story. Create a character bible. Figure out their strengths, weaknesses, past history, nervous habits, favorite foods, their dreams and hopes, character flaws, and special skills. Get to know them so well that if you sat down with them in a restaurant you would know what they would be wearing, what they would order, and how they would tip the waitress. Also figure out the geography you are working with and any significant items, like magic swords or priceless family heirlooms. Objects can have their own history, weaknesses, or special powers.

The more you get to know your character the easier it will be to write your story and you will make fewer character mistakes.


  1. This is a great post. I hadn't thought about taking the time before writing to really get to know the characters, but that makes alot of sense. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. My characters come alive as I write. Of course I have the basic idea for them first. As I write I take notes in a word.doc.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  3. I guess I was at an advantage in that Byron had already lived in my head for thirty years.

  4. Great details here Deirdra. I love the question of "What type of person would this character fall in love with?" It's a great detail to know even if you aren't writing romance.


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