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Posts Tagged ‘character biographies’

Even before we begin writing a show or a movie, we do a lot of prelim writing work in churning out what is called the ‘show bible’. It contains the detailed concept, character sketches and the story.  In some cases it even contains the budget, casting options and options for various talent – director, cameraman, stylist, set designer.

It is blueprint of the show and on which our screenplays are based. I have already covered some aspects of a TV show in some of my earlier posts.

What I haven’t covered is how we develop characters. Contrary to what people think, a lot of work goes into developing engaging, believable and quirky characters. It involves answering a lot of questions in as much detail as possible. Good character biographies can run into thirty page or more.

There are many formats available on the net, but here’s one:

SOCIAL ASPECTS

*Occupation
*Education
*Religion
*Hobbies
*Political views
*Ethnicity
*Marital status
*Birthplace
*Social status
*Affiliations

PHYSICAL ASPECTS

*Men or Female
*Height/weight
*Physical Build
*Appearance
*Complexion
*Health
*Athletic
*Defects (scars, or limps)
*Voice

PSYCHOLOGY ASPECTS

*Fears (Do not create cheap Freudian back story as motivation for your characters. For example, “she was once sexually abused by her stepfather and so hates all men.” People are more complex than this. If such a traumatic event happened in her life, if anything, it would make her promiscuous. She may hate sex, fear men, but hate men? Do some research for plausible cause-effect scenarios.)

*Values
*Addictions
*Habits
*Intelligence
*Morality
*Temperament
*Beliefs
*Secrets.

You can of course, embellish it with more details, for example, what clothing does your character favour? Or what motto defines her world view, i.e., “A successful person is one who can fake sincerity.” Does she have a nickname? Does she like it? Hate it?

All the detail you create may or may not be revealed during the story, but it doesn’t mean that it’s work that’s been wasted. The more detail you create, the deeper you can make your character, and this rich history will be such a rich source of information that it may even change and evolve your story itself.

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