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Creating a character biography

When you write a biography for a character, you discuss some of the major events and people that have shaped the life of the character up until the point at which the novel begins. This method looks at things such as accomplishments, tragedies and anything that made a serious change in the character’s life. It should also give you some idea of the character’s everyday interests. You can write it in the third person or the first person (as if it were an autobiography). This can help you develop the character’s voice. It can also be fun to write the biography as if it were a magazine profile or a dossier by a private investigator or spy.

What should you include?

Some of the things you might discuss when writing the character’s biography include:

  • Description of family
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Location changes
  • Interests
  • Talents
  • Legal trouble
  • Educational experiences
  • Work experiences
  • Athletic achievements
  • Influences
  • Political activism
  • Friends
  • Romantic relationships / marriage
  • Awards
  • Failures
  • Tragedies and difficulties
  • Controversies
  • Name changes
  • Clubs and organizations

Interesting Biographies

The great thing about biographies are that there are plenty of examples on the web. Here are a few biographies you might want to look at before you start on yours:

Maya Angelou
Harold Pinter
The Autobiography Project
Jackson Pollock
Joseph “Shoeless Joe” Jackson
Charles Bukowski

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