Creating a Bible for Characters and Screenwriting

By Ellen Buikema

A number of chapters into composing The Hobo Code, I found myself in “Look, theres a squirrel” mode. When I was able to gain back focus, I realized I d composed the incorrect physical description for one of my primary characters. At this point, I had actually not started a character bible.

A character bible is a file filled with all you require to understand about your characters motivations, personalities, physical qualities, and background story, consisting of household. Not everything in the character bible will find its method into your manuscript, however the information will be easily offered for your reference when needed.

How To Make a Character Bible

There is no incorrect way to make a character bible.

You put it together, the benefit is to have quick access to the information for all your characters, no matter how minor. In The Hobo Code, hobo Spooky Steve is in far fewer scenes than Jack Schmidt, the main lead character, however I still need to know enough about Spooky to have a well-rounded, relatable character.

It can be composed using a notebook, yellow sticky notes on butcher paper, or as a three-ring binder full of loose-leaf paper separated by tabbed dividers in numerous colors. Whatever works best for the author. This YouTube video demonstrates how to assemble a story bible in a binder and includes free design templates.

Not everyone likes to use paper methods. Some prefer to utilize software application. Fortunately there are lots of to select from for saving and arranging character info.

One Stop for Writers has a great Character building tool.
This YouTube video gives a great summary.
Other possibilities are Scrivener, Plot Factory, OneNote, EverNote, and Microsoft Excel.
Some authors like to use a combination of software application, utilizing Scrivener for composing and OneNote or EverNote for the character bible.

Tips for getting the most from your character bible:

Knowing the characters peculiarities, worries, likes and dislikes will assist deepen dialogue and dispute.

Perhaps characters freak out or crumbles at the sound of infuriated voices due to childhood trauma. A characters backstory specifies their present behavior and guides their future.

Tension Response: You will be hurling conflicts at your characters to create tension and interest. How do your characters respond to worry? Consist of responses to typical situations and put the characters in positions where their normal reaction wont work.

Interpersonal Communication: List the characters good friends, household members, enemies, and associates. Do your characters like to chatter?

Background details: Details infuse your characters with life. Focus on the characters personalities.

Weird fun fact: People with multiple personality disorder may have differing visual skills. One might need glasses, another not. Individuals with light-colored eyes often appear to have eye color changes depending upon state of mind and what they are using. This can be used in emotion-filled scenes.

Physical Details: Keep a list of each characters physical characteristics. You dont desire to change eye color mid-story unless were utilizing contact lenses or wonderful allure.

Quirks: Specific habits and mannerisms make characters realistic and relatable. Stroll in your characters shoes for a day. Utilize this role-playing activity for daily activities of all kinds.

Note all of your characters: More time will be invested in the primary characters, but details for the small ones will assist you remember little things like exactly what sort of tattoo he has and where its situated.

What about a screenwriting bible?

The tone of the series ought to be reflected in the bible.

Here is a portion of the bible for the BBCs comedy series Dirk Gentlys Holistic Detective Agency, based on the work of Douglas Adams.

Author, speaker, and previous teacher, Ellen L. Buikema has actually composed non-fiction for parents and a series of chapter books for kids with stories motivating the advancement of compassion– spraying humor anywhere possible. Her Work In Progress, The Hobo Code, is YA historical fiction.

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Movie and television series use bibles. These bibles are continually updated with anything that airs. This document helps keep the writing consistent within the series.

Find her at or on Amazon.

When a new writer joins a show she is given a copy of the series bible to best comprehend all aspects of the program.

Wacky series, wacky bible.

To pitch a TV series you should have your series bible all set to go along with the plot. Producers would like to know where the story is going and if its binge-worthy.

Do you use a character bible? Which works much better for you, writing software application or a paper method for notes? We d love to hear, down in the comments, how you selected this technique!

This bible (often called the show bible or series bible) is a recommendation file used by screenwriters including all the info on characters including backstories, settings, and numerous minutiae, such as a characters food allergies, for the small and huge screen.

About Ellen.

I think thats how they state get in harmony in French,” the intro starts. Do not truth check that. My name is Dirk Gently.

When I was able to regain focus, I realized I d composed the wrong physical description for one of my primary characters. At this point, I had not started a character bible. Physical Details: Keep a list of each characters physical traits. Include reactions to regular situations and put the characters in positions where their normal reaction will not work.


Leading Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay.

Do you utilize a character bible?

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