by Molly Jo Realy @MollyJoRealy
Well, I thought I was sort of done with NOLA but the truth is (as so many of my writing peeps warned me), it’s only just begun. [Cue Carpenters’ music here.]
As y’all will recall (I hope) from a recent post, for a while there I forgot I was a writer. I mean, I was listening to so many others, and I was acting like a new student instead of a seasoned wordsmith. It took a little self-diagnosing to figure out the main problem was, well, me. *GASP* So not cool, right? Now here’s Part A of this awesome post. Y’all have heard me mention Caleb now and then. He’s this guy I adopted/befriended/took under my wings at the last Blue Ridge conference, and we’re planning to meet up again this year. I call him my kid, my little brother, JB. He wears all kinds of hats. One of the things I love most about him is his willingness to be a better writer.
We talk quite often about our characters’ backstories, what makes them tick, all that Jazz. And since I’m in the midst of a NOLA rewrite (that’s a good thing), I figured it’s time to finally make my story bible. I’ve had it in mind for years, I just never put one together. I know, shame on me. [Mom. Seriously. Stop agreeing and talking to the computer screen. No one can hear you when you do that.]
And since y’all know my
penchant habit compulsion for multi-purposing items and activities, of course I immediately decide to use one of my Happy Planners for the project.
Oh, but wait. There’s more.
I’ve also recently fallen in love with bullet journaling. See, Happy Planning is the planning and organizing side of things. Bullet Journaling is the tracking and history and recording side of things. And when the two met and fell in love, they married and had a creative baby called the NOLA story bible.
And since this baby is mine and mine alone, there’s no wrong way to dress up the information. Seriously. Like, you can do it too and no one can tell you you’re baby’s ugly because it’s your baby and you don’t have to show it to anyone. [Getting weird? Okay. We’ll stop.]
For starters, I’m having fun learning my characters’ backgrounds. Their likes, dislikes, nasty habits and saving graces. I curated a bunch of character bio sheet information, polled my writer peeps, and put it all together in one handy form.
Yup. That’s right. I created a Character Bio Template. It’s a handy-dandy resource to help you learn more about your character, even if some of that information doesn’t make it into your manuscript. Look at it this way: When you go into a restaurant, your waiter doesn’t need to know why you want cream and sugar for your coffee, or why you like sourdough instead of wheat. They just want to take your order and fill it. But you have your reasons, am I right?
A character bio gives you insights into why your character behaves/thinks/emotes the way he/she does. Your reader doesn’t need to know everything, but if you understand your character better, you’ll write a better story.
It’s a template because y’all can use as much or as little info as you want. It’s broken up into sections so you can compartmentalize your character’s info: The Basics, The Background, The Family Highlights, The Body, The Soul and Mind, The Back Story/Psychology, and The Favorites. I color-coded my sections and numbered the individual items. Now I have a full sheet of information for each protagonist, antagonist, and secondary characters. [That’s main good guys, main bad guys, and sidekicks, for all you non-writer folk.] I kind of wanna show you Josie’s bio, but you know, government secrets and all. Okay, not really. But when you’re a writer, it feels that intense. Gotta protect the story at all costs. So, sorry, no share. But here’s a pretty photo of the template in my Happy Planner/Story bible:
I’d love to share the template with you. Just click here: Character Bio Template.
And now it’s your turn: How do you keep track of your character information?
With characters to organize and a story to tell,
And Frankly, My Dear . . . : That’s all she wrote!