Roleplay Guide 009: Biographies (For Dummies)There are a few key components to biographies that actually make them “biographies”. In this guide, I will go over these key components, as well as other elements to add into your biography to enable you to create a character that is both well-rounded with information and still something that can be developed on to. Beginners style. (For roleplay blogs & roleplayers, includes helpful links)
✖ What Is A Biography?
Before we dive too deep, let’s hang around the kiddie pool and get to understanding what a biography actually is.
Be definition, a biography is a piece of literature written based on someone’s life, written by someone else. It is a detailed work that entails more than just the basics of who that person is, what they have done, etc. It contains their history, and a lifetime of it up to that very moment, based on that person.
A biography has the following characteristics, generally
- Tells about another person
- Provides anecdotes or details that show that person in action
- Shows how the person effects others
- States or implies how the writer perceives that person
✖ How To Prep For Writing One.
Before you write a biography, it is best that you have an element of that person to start from; a history of them you’ve created in your head, their attitude/personality, how people perceive them before they actually meet that person, and so on. You can really start with any little detail you would like.
And now, build off of your chosen detail.
- History section > Appearance > Personality
Say you start with their history, and in it you mention them having gotten a scar. Well then, in how they look, you can provide how that scar makes other people think of them. And then, you can consider what kind of personality might they have, based on how they obtained the scar.
- Personality > Appearance > History
Now, we will mix it up. Say you give the character a tough persona; they’re rude, generally cold, and easily angered. For their appearance you might imply that they have a more stern look, a hint of determination in their eye — something that makes people a little intimidated by them even at first glance! And then, within their history, you might invent a reason why they are like this.
There are many ways you can come up with a simple idea for a character and build off of it from that. Hopefully, what I’ve provided above can give you an idea on how to go about doing that. If not, the links below should give you assistance!
Now, make sure you have researched the character type you are after. Research is a writer’s fantastic ally. It is the very thing people who know more than you on something can easily spot — lack of research.
When should you do research on a character?
- When they are from a different country than you.
- When they are a different gender than you.
- When they are a different race/ethnicity than you.
- When they are a different religion than you.
If you cannot identify with something to do with the character you are writing for — research.
To know whether you are getting the right information on something, I suggest you find multiple reliable and credible resources to help with you information. DO NOT ask people within the group you are doing research on. Self-educate on the topic. If someone who knows better calls you out for something being wrong, fix it promptly. No harm, no foul. Just try your best, and make sure you’re at least a little more knowledgeable before you went in!
✖ Constructing The Biography
Now that you have more insight of where you want to go with the character, choose your format. You can find a list of biography formats here (x) that could definitely help you begin!
Now, with the information you have compiled, your ideas about your character intact, and a biography format chosen — it is time to create the biography.
I typically use biography format number one, as shown in the link I provided above. Section biographies are helpful because they show a person where to look first in order to successfully connect with the character from the jump. Which, in my opinion, is something you want. You want to be sure that the reader can find a character they can write and connect with fairly easily.
Now, if you plan on writing long biographies with meaty amounts of information, I suggest section biographies a hundred percent. It allows you to still write a lot of info, while giving the reader the contents they might be looking for right away. They do not need to search through unmarked super-texts of words for what they are after. Definite benefits. If you are writing a bit less, I suggest using any format, but perhaps lean towards ones that show the information together rather than in sections. It will give the illusion of a meaty few paragraphs, than a few simple ones.
A biography should include the following
- Name, age, face claim, etc. All the basics in whatever way you wish to display them.
- History. Be it general or not, history defines the person. Never forget that.
- Appearance. A general appearance section can help add depth to a character. Now, it’s not necessary to have one, but I figured I’d add it because of the benefits from it. It allows you to give a face claim without tattoos, tattoos. It allows the face claim to simply be a base for the actual appearance.
- Family, friends, etc. If they have any, list them. Connections are great to have, especially if the listed family, friends, etc. are other characters in the game.
- Quirks, habits, etc. If you want to, adding little quirks to a character makes them all the more interesting. It is not useless information to note that they smoke, or wrinkle their nose a lot when they’re mad.
- How others perceive them. Allow your reader to know how others around them feel at first glance when they see the character. This can coexist with your “appearance” section, or can also stand on it’s own.
- What they have done in their life. Accomplishments, crimes, etc. It allows more insight into how far that character is willing to go.
✖ Need More Help?
My inbox is always open to help you with biographies, although please understand that I will not write a whole character with/for you unless you are willing to promote me. I will, however, read over them to let you know if they are good with information; I will also give tips on them.
✖ Helpful Links
- How To Write A Biography
- How To Write A Kick-Ass Biography
- How To Write A Character Biography
- Howtowriteabiography.org (Website)
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