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Character Development
February 6, 2023

How to Write a Character Bio

A character bio is a brilliant tool for screenwriters. There are many benefits to creating a character bio for your primary characters (as well as your secondary characters if you want to).

The main advantage is that an audience is more likely to connect strongly with a character if they fully understand who they are as a person and their goals and motivations - and a character bio helps a writer create this feeling.

What is a character bio?

A character bio is an overview of your character. It acts as a template when writing to avoid inconsistencies in both behaviour and physical description. A character bio can be anything from basic background information to a detailed back story and motivations.

The better the character bio often the easier it is to write realistic and convi

Why should screenwriters use a character bio?

On a practical level, it helps avoid inconsistencies in a character’s description and behaviour. On a deeper level, a character bio will improve character development and ultimately strengthen their character arc, which is essential as it helps your audience connect and relate to them, and therefore feel more immersed in your story.

How long should a character bio be?

The length of a character bio depends on your preference as a screenwriter and your screenwriting process. You might want to keep it brief and focus solely on the basics. Or you might like the idea of creating a complete profile that you can use to really get under the skin of who your character is. Neither answer is right or wrong; it depends on your preference and what would be the most useful to you.

Do you need a character bio for every character in your screenplay?

Not necessarily. Typically, character bios are the most useful for your protagonists as they’re the ones who feature prominently in your screenplay and are crucial to the story. However, you might also find it helpful to create character bios for any essential secondary characters.

Start your character bio with the basics

Begin crafting your character bio by starting with the basics. Your character’s name (and nickname/s), gender, age, nationality, race and where they live. Physical details including height, weight, build, eye colour, hair colour, and characteristics like any scars, birthmarks, tattoos and piercings.

This essential background and the physical details will help you further develop your character bio.

Develop their personality traits and personal background

How would you describe their personality? Are they an introvert or an extrovert? Are they an optimist or a pessimist? What mood are they usually in? What’s their general attitude like? Can you list some of their strengths and weaknesses? Do they have any unusual mannerisms or habits? Which character archetype are they?

To craft a character’s personal background, look at their upbringing, family, and friendship circle. Are they well educated? What career have they had? What’s their work/life balance outlook? Do they have any solid personal ethics? What are their life’s defining moments and milestones, and how did they react to them? What’s their philosophy? What ultimately motivates them?

Ask yourself questions to create their character bio

Fully flesh out your character by asking yourself questions about them. Here are some questions you can ask:

What drink would they order at a bar?

Where would they book a holiday if they could go anywhere in the world?

How would they react if an elderly person needed help with their shopping?

Are they a dog or a cat person?

No matter how basic any questions might seem, each time you answer one, you naturally develop your character and get to know them. You could even go one step further and interview your character to see what answers naturally flow when it feels like they’re physically sitting before you.

Create a template for each character bio

Writing your screenplay with a character bio template to hand will ensure you’re writing your character with these details and background in mind. A template can be an excellent reference to avoid inconsistencies and help you determine how a character might act in a given situation.

Always look at room for development

How can you add further depth to this character? How can you ensure they feel three-dimensional rather than two-dimensional?

To create characters that an audience feels they know as if they’re real, always look for ways to develop your character further. This might come naturally in your script when a story throws obstacles that stand in the way of a character achieving their ultimate goals and ties into their character arc.

You might also find it useful to complete a screenwriting exercise we love, like character creation step by step.

Don’t include everything in a character bio in your story

A character bio is a tool for you as a screenwriter. Your audience doesn’t need to know all those details, so be mindful of only sharing whatever is necessary to help them understand your character better.

Keep the character’s goal in mind

A character’s ultimate goal is a critical component of the story, as well as their own development. Keep this goal at the forefront of your character bio to ensure it matches both the character’s journey and the story.

If you need help with building your characters and getting your ideas on paper be sure to download our FREE screenwriting software today.


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How to Write a Character Bio
Danielle Owen-Jones

Danielle Owen-Jones is a professional writer and the author of two romantic comedies, Stone Broke Heiress and Stuck With Him, published worldwide by Bookouture (Hachette UK). Danielle worked in journalism and PR before launching a freelance content writing business alongside writing her novels.

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