What is a character bible? Not a piece of holy writ, that's for sure. However, a character bible might save you--at least time and embarrassment.
For example, if your character has brown eyes in chapter one, you don't want a reader to inform you--perhaps in a review--about him having blue eyes in chapter 20. Jo Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, has had remarks like that made.
So, a character bible can include things like physical attributes, and many people spend a lot of time deciding what those are. The Internet is full of articles and blog posts with ideas for what to include. Like these:
- Create a Character Bible to Flesh Out Your Star Characters
- How to Write a Character Bible--6 Steps (on eHow)
- Conversations with Your Characters: On Building the Character Bible
One I'm especially fond of using is What Really Drives Your Characters? by Carolyn Kaufman, Psy.D. (an Assistant Professor at Columbus State Community College and author of The Writer’s Guide to Psychology)
I find, when I use Dr. Kaufman's page, not only do I discover things about my characters, but that the things I discover help me plot the story. I've gone so far as to create a Word document that I fill out on my major characters. I have included it in my Scrivener template so when I begin a new book, it's built right in.
I love Dr. Kaufman's webpage because of the questions she poses. Sample (you'll need to check the link above for the rest of her great questions):
1. Primary Goal
a. Obstacles to that Goal
b. What s/he'll give up or sacrifice to achieve that Goal
What has your character promised herself she'd never do? And how can you push her past that promise by dangling the Goal in front of her?)
I'm a sucker for ethical questions, so I find this intriguing. Could there come a point in your story where one of your characters finds him/herself go too far because it's soooo close to that Goal?
It's wonderful that you, as the author, get to choose what kinds of things you want in your character bible.
Do you have one? If so, what do you like to include ?