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Character is story, story is character. It’s a mantra that many of today’s most successful authors live by.
The needs and wants of believable, authentic characters are what drive a story forward and keep readers engaged. Readers may forget the intricacies of a plot, yet some characters remain with them forever.
So how do professional writers craft well-rounded characters that their readers love (or love to hate)? By using a character bio template.
What is a character bio?
A character bio lays out the personality traits, physical appearance, life experiences, and hopes and dreams of your character across approximately 2-3 pages. Most writers will complete character biographies for each of their main characters before they even start work on writing their story.
Our free downloadable character bio template is inspired by insights from British writer, Malorie Blackman’s BBC Maestro online creative writing course. Malorie has written over 70 books and was the Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015.
“(You should) create unique, distinct characters for each of your stories,” says Malorie. “The first thing I do is create a mini biography for my protagonists. In that I explore, not just their physicality, but what they’re like emotionally and mentally as well. Questions help me get to know my characters.”
“When you’ve really worked out who your characters are, you’ll know how they’ll react in any situation,” adds Malorie. “That’s why it’s so important to get the characterisation right. You’ll find that the characters start to feel real to you.”
As Malorie points out, understanding your characters in great detail can help when you reach a pivotal plot point and have to decide how your character would respond. Like Malorie, many writers describe their characters often taking on a life of their own and taking the story off in an expected direction. Having your character profiles to hand as you are writing is an essential resource to keep your main character consistent and remind you of what truly motivates them.
How to write a character bio
The best way to write a character bio is to use a character bio sheet or template. Using the same character profile template each time you create a new character can get you into the habit of building your characters from the inside out from the very start. Our character bio outlines 42 questions for you to consider about your new characters. Be sure to fill out the profile for each of your main characters or any other minor characters who are pivotal to the plot.
Once you’ve created your character profiles, the next step is to start plotting out your story. Keep this template on hand as your character info sheet and reuse it as many times as you like!
We’d love to hear how you get on, so be sure your share your newly created characters with us on social media, you’ll find us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Hungry for more creative writing tips? Check out our range of online writing courses.