Using a Character Bible – Is it worth it? – Written By Don Massenzio

Don Massenzio, the author of the Frank Rozzani-series, has published a fascinating post about using a character bible. I’m always enthusiastic when I can share an article that shows us an experienced author’s recommendation. Thank you for sharing yours, Don!


As I embark on my next writing venture after a 2020 hiatus, I realized something. The equation of my age plus the stress of 2020 and the length of time since I’ve written a Frank Rozzani book has added up to me forgetting the details of many of my familiar characters. I remember reading a while back about having a character bible, a book of character profiles. The article I read talked about how this is especially important if you write a multiple-book series with the same characters.

At the time, I said to myself, “I’ll never forget these characters. They’re part of me.” Well, as I get older, I’m pretty sure there are actual parts of me that I’ve forgotten.

As I try to write for my tried and true characters, I find myself searching my previous books for things like dates, names, hair and eye color and other things that would be great to have at my fingertips. As a result, I’m revisiting the idea of the character bible. I thought that one useful resource would be to go to the blogging community of authors, editors and readers and ask for your opinions and experience.

I thought I would begin, however, by telling you what I’ve learned about this tool for those of you that haven’t heard of it or have been using elements of it without realizing it had a name.

What is a Character Bible?

There is no single definition or series of components that make up a character bible. From the research I’ve done, it’s basically a collection of character profiles each of which tell you about the character’s:

  • Name – This might seem obvious, but a character’s name is important. Think of Alex Cross and the numerous James Patterson books bearing his surname in the title. To a much, much lesser degree, of course, there are my Frank Rozzani detective novels that all have ‘Frank’ in some form in the title Frankly Speaking, Let Me Be Frank, Frank Incensed (my personal favorite), Frankly My Dear and Frank Immersed.
  • Physical Appearance/Mannerisms – The characters height, body type, hair color, eye color, physical anomalies and disabilities and other information about how the character looks.
  • History – Information about the character’s backstory, cultural, educational and socio-economic situation and any other relevant information that is material to the plot.
  • Personality – What psychological quirks, conditions or flaws does the character have? What motivates him/her? What are his/her desires? What’s missing from his/her life?

Now, the worst thing you can do is dump all of this information about the character into your story in one fell swoop. You can dribble out the information as needed in small doses. The other thing to avoid, however, is your character developing some ability or piece of knowledge from his background out of convenience to get you past a snag in the story without foreshadowing it first.

CONTINUE READING HERE

5 Questions to Turn a Character from Flat to Fabulous – Written By Janice Hardy

Thank you very much, Janice Hardy, for your recommendations on our characters. We really appreciate it!


 

on Fiction University:

Sometimes we just need a little help to create a memorable character.
.
Some writers develop incredibly detailed characters before they ever start a story.
I am not one of those writers.

I do the bare minimum necessary to create a character, then I throw them into my story and see what they do. By the time I’ve written the first draft, I know who they are and can revise accordingly.

Although I’ve written this way for decades, I’m not sure I’d recommend it. It’s an interesting tactic, but it has left me with a lot of revising I wouldn’t have needed if I’d done a bit more character work before I started writing.

Lately, I’ve wondered if I should change my process, or at the very least, add another layer of character creation at the start. Because I’ve always said that characters drive the plot, and I’m a plot-driven writer, so my process is missing a critical aspect when I think about it from that perspective.

Continue reading HERE

My First Published Character Interview – Simin Arnatt

On December 4, 2015, I was introduced on ‘The Story Reading Ape’s blog to be accepted in his ‘Author’s Hall of Fame’. I’m very grateful he did that and accepted several guest posts since that day. TSRA’s post went viral before my first book in the series ‘Soul Taker’ was published. That day I interviewed one of my characters, Simin Arnatt. She is quite an important character in my series, strong, beautiful, a fighter.

Book Four in ‘The Council of Twelve’ series will be Simin’s story. I decided today to re-publish Simin’s interview here below for you to meet her (or meet her again).

Simin isn’t an easy character, independent, proud, unique, difficult to handle at times. Brace yourself for her arrival…


Interview with Simin Arnatt.

Hello, Simin.

I am honored to be permitted to ask you a few questions and that you agreed to let us know you a little better.

You’re welcome. It is nice to be here. Don’t forget to keep your curiosity under control and we’ll get along well.

I understand. Now let’s start with the beginning. You are beautiful, but unusual. Where were you born?

Thank you so much for the compliment. I am in fact born in England. My mother was English, my father, Persian. I got my parents’ looks, equally from both of them. Only that I look like their negative. (She laughs musically) I got my father’s light skin and my mother’s chocolate hair – and nature switched it and made me.

The contrast is unique, in particular with your dark eyes. You are gorgeous. You look like being in your late twenties the most. May I ask how old you are?

Again thank you for all compliments. As for my age: After I reached my biological limit at the age of 22, I haven’t noticed to age significantly. And that was a long, long time ago. My parents passed away, their bodies turned into dust in the meantime. I did not expect to live this long, but that’s how it is. And no, I won’t tell you my actual age. It will, as so many things about me, remain a secret.

What do you do for a living?

I am something like a “bounty hunter”. I search for individuals on order.

That sounds interesting, can you tell us more? For example: Why do you search for these individuals and who gives you the orders?

I’m sorry. It’s my work, and I do guarantee absolute discretion to my customers.

There is something unusual about you. And you mentioned you are much older than I guessed. Are you human?

Not entirely, no.

But you’re not a vampire?

(Laughs out loudly). No, not at all.

What are you if I may ask?

This will remain a secret

Were you born the way you are?

Yes.

Are you the only one of your kind?

I have never met another in my entire existence. But this doesn’t mean there is nobody else. We just might not have met.

What….

STOP IT!! Enough of that. If you don’t have any other questions.

Is there a man in your life?

N…no.

Your answer came out a little hesitating. Are you sure there is nobody?

Yes.

But you are in love?

(Blushes furiously) I don’t talk about that. This goes too far now. Do you have one more question to ask? Otherwise I…

Yes, please. Is there anything you would like to be able to do? A wish, a dream you have?

I sometimes wish I could fly into heaven, spread my wings, fly above the clouds, and end up where all is love and peace. Away from blood, cruelness, injustice and – Heaven… (her eyes are dreamy)

I’m sorry, but this is it. I consider this interview over. It was a pleasure to be here. All the Best and good luck with your book.

(Originally published December 4, 2015 on The Story Reading Ape’s blog)


Find and buy the first three books in the series here:

https://books2read.com/u/m2roOj

 

 

 

 

 

https://books2read.com/u/mgGGeX

 

 

 

 

 

https://books2read.com/u/3yEx6l

 

Asking the Right Questions with Character Interviews – Written By Becca Puglisi

Becca Puglisi published a blog post about asking the right questions with character interviews. How do we know the character, what’s important? Thanks so much for helping us out answering these questions, Becca.


on Writers Helping Writers:

Developing characters is one of the joys of writing and it’s a dream when we understand them and what they’re about. Inevitably, though, there comes a time when our characters do and say things that don’t make sense to us, we feel they’re one-dimensional, or we just don’t know how they should react to situations. This can stall our story.

Character interviews are a fabulous way to address these problems. Not only does interviewing your character help you learn more about them, you’ll be able to note the hesitations or uncertainties so you can drill deeper into those areas. It can also give you a better feel for their voice, which can sometimes be hard to nail down.

But there are so many interviews and questionnaires available on the internet, and we can lose a lot of time answering questions that may not be relevant to understanding our character. So how do we know which questions are the right questions? Which ones will help us dig deeper into our characters and, ultimately, strengthen our story?

Continue reading HERE

The Truth – And How I Use My Characters To Say It

Picture courtesy of http://www.thepowerofoneness.com/blog/tag/live-your-truth/

Don’t we all wish sometimes we could just tell the truth instead of juggling tactfully around saying what the other one would like to hear? Let me give you a few examples.

Imagine, a hair salon, somewhere in a big city… the walls are covered with breathtaking hairstyles on equally breathtaking people, the hairstylist expects his next appointment.

A customer enters and points to one of the pictures on the wall, telling the hairdresser: “I want exactly that hairstyle here.”

Now, what does the hairstylist want to say? “Well, I’m afraid, that is a misunderstanding. See, this is a professional model, a really beautiful human being. Whereas you are a caprice of nature… barely to look at.”

What does the stylist say eventually? “Aaawww. What an excellent choice. That cut will frame your face wonderfully. I’m convinced it will look splendidly on you.”

Or, let’s have a look at another example:

Parents are invited to a parent’s conference day, and they’re meeting their kids’ teacher.

Imagine what the teacher would like to say: “Ah, yes. Your son Willy. A complete idiot. About as intelligent as six feet of dirt track… I’m surprised how this child finds the door in the morning to leave the house. My advice to you: set him free; start from scratch.”

What does he say? “Your son. He is intelligent but does have a few difficulties to focus and concentrate. There are practices and exercises to improve that. But I’m convinced the older he gets, the easier it will be for him…”

Or, how do you tell parents that their child is not the cutest on earth? Ask them for a picture. Then you study it for a few minutes and say: “Aha… hmm… you know…. are you sure that this is indeed the face?”

Of course, our society does not accept the naked truth. We all know words can hurt, and we don’t want to hurt people, nor do we want to be hurt. That’s when our ability to successfully veil our replies in conversations, create our answers in a way to compliment the other person, and hide what we really think.

At this point, I admit, it is a relief at times, to use my characters to speak what ‘they’ think, and of course, use them to write what I think. I rarely refer to a particular person or situation. But I permit my characters at times, to be as outspoken, open, bold, and sometimes rude, as I would never dare to be in public.

At times I wonder, if crime authors use their books to ‘kill people’ they don’t like in real life.

What would you permit your character to do what you cannot do or say in your real life? Let me know in the comments, I’m curious.

 

Do Your Characters Take on a Life of Their Own? – Written By Jami Gold

Jamie Gold provides us with an interesting post about our characters taking on a life of their own. Thanks for your insight on this, Jamie.


Ever get one of those injuries where you wish you had a better story to go with it? *sigh*

When a bundle of bamboo sticks I was trying to separate slipped, one punctured the tip of my index finger, right by the curve of my nail. Three hours of pressure and paper-towel-wrapped ice cubes later, the bleeding stopped so I could apply a bandage, but typing is…not fun.

So let’s do a shorter, fun post today. *grin*

There’s no end to the variety of ways we can get to know our characters. That goes double when it comes to getting to know our characters well enough that they become three-dimensional and take on a life of their own.

Let’s explore…

Continue reading HERE

 

Looking For A Character Name

As the author of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I admit, I’m a bit proud of twelve quite impressive characters, if I may say so. Of course, even though, so far, only two books in the series have been published, there are many more to come. A series of books usually holds many more characters than a mere dozen.

During the progress of the series, things are changing, known characters stay, others leave, some have to go, and new ones are introducing themselves to us. And these characters not only need to look (which this one I’m writing about now, already does)… he also needs a name.

Usually, I don’t have problems finding names. I wrote in an earlier post, ‘Character Names – Worth A Research,’ how I usually pick names for my characters.

This time it’s different, I’m afraid. I picked many names – but only can have one… and I cannot decide. Would you please help me?

My character is a tall, muscular man with bronze-colored skin and long, straight black hair that reaches down to his waist, and dark eyes. He’s got a good, strong heart, is loyal, a little bit stubborn, and holds great dignity. He likes to smile, but he takes his calling seriously.

Name                 Meaning                                                             Origin

Admiel              Land of God, a  variant form of Adam           Hebrew

Asariel              God is my aid                                                    Hebrew

Ethanael           God has given me strength                    English/American

Sariel                 Prince of God                                                    Hebrew

Immanuel        God is with us                                                   Hebrew

Indraneel         Sapphire                                                             Arabic

Jaromiel          Strong, fierce, favor, grace                               Slavic

Jeremiel          God lifts me up                                                  Hebrew

Kadmiel           God is my East                                                  Hebrew

Nahuel              Jaguar                                                                Mapuche

 

I’d really appreciate it if you could let me know what do you think. Which name would match the character I described? What name would you pick if you had that character in your book? Or what name would you like to read in one of the following books in the series?

 

I’m curious about what name you will decide on, and I can barely wait to see the results. Thank you for your help.

 

 

Soul Taker Secrets: Interview With Nathan – Who Is He And Do We Meet Him Again?

To the readers of ‘Soul Taker,’ Nathan is a known character. He only shows up briefly at the beginning of the story. He takes Katie’s spot when she accepts her new tasks as a Guardian.

If you haven’t read ‘Soul Taker’ yet, it is time to read: I added the universal link where the book is available.

https://books2read.com/u/m2roOj

 

Below you will find an interview with Nathan. Read it and find out more about an Angel we only know by name – and by a perfectly tailored suit.

Excerpt from ‘Soul Taker’:

He looked over my shoulder, and I turned around, watching two beautiful looking men walking toward us. One of them was dressed in a suit and tie and looked elegant and chic like a businessman. The other one wore old jeans, cowboy boots, and a long-worn leather coat.

Joseph smiled. He introduced me to the business-like guy. “This is Nathaniel. He’s your replacement and will take your job over from here.”

The Guy shook my hand. “Please, call me Nate,” he said with a laugh.


Hello Nathan. It is great seeing you again. How are you doing?

Hello AJ. Nice to see you too. I’m doing okay. Unfortunately, I’m far too busy. Sometimes I wish I had more time off.

 

We know you took over from Katie when she wanted to become a Guardian and met Raphael. 

Yes, I did. I was quite surprised to hear the two fell in love. I was invited to their wedding but unfortunately couldn’t go because of an emergency.

 

Why were you surprised? From what I hear, Katie is breathtakingly beautiful, and Raphael, from what I heard, has celebrated quite some success with the ladies.

Yes, but we were taught that it is almost impossible for an Archangel to find his consort.  Raphael found his consort, and now we all are curious to see who of the Council Of Twelve is going to be next.

 

How about you? Is there someone special in your life?

I admit, there is someone I love. But I am not permitted to talk more about all that, remember? You told me to keep my mouth shut about that.

(Oh, yes. *AJ laughs* I forgot)

 

But now, tell us a little bit about you. Who is Nathan?

I am a Soul Taker, as you know. I have been one for about a millennium. I pick up souls and take them to their respective final destinations. Usually, it is Heaven, but occasionally I have to take them to the gates of Hell. Rarely we Soul Takers are attacked by the other side who try to steal the soul we are working with.

 

Now, we know Katie got tired of doing this job for three hundred years. Aren’t you tired out by that job?

Well, Katie and I are two completely different personalities. She is younger than I am, for one thing. Also, she is quite emotionally sensitive. I could easily imagine that a soul she takes to the portals of the Underworld is trashing, crying, regretting, screaming, is almost breaking her heart.

And we shouldn’t forget: We are taking all kinds of souls… not only bad ones, not only good ones, and in particular, we do have to pick up innocent souls too. That was very hard on Katie.

I had to harden my emotions and heart against this kind of compassion, or I could never have done that job to my satisfaction and the satisfaction of my bosses.

 

We met you briefly in Katie’s story. And now we learned a bit more about who you are. Are we going to meet you again?

Yes, you will meet me again. You will learn more about me. Just be a bit patient. I’ll be back.

 

Thank you so much for dropping in as my guest today, Nathan. We really appreciate it.

Thanks for having me. It was my pleasure.


Picture courtesy of Pinterest.com

 

A Funny Character Study – A. J. Alexander Examined Carefully

Today I was thinking about checking out my ‘Council Of Twelve’ characters a bit more carefully and more in detail. But where to start? (I’m not necessarily talking about the names). I have twelve amazing personalities. But one blog post about the characteristics of a dozen very unique natures would end up in me still typing next Thursday and you reading until Christmas. I tried to limit the number of my Council of Twelve members to the original four. and had to re-phrase my question: “What character has which character?” Who is Raphael, how is he? How different is he from, let’s say, Gabriel. What are their characteristics based on?

The last question was quite easy to answer, considering I’m a woman… The Zodiac signs!

Yeah – great!

The four oldest members of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ were not born, they were created. Therefore, they don’t have a Zodiac sign.

With a huge sigh, I left the Astrology up to the stars and tried to find out my own characteristics. How can I write about other characters if I don’t even understand my types of characteristics in a professional way?

And there, the first giggles started already. I started at the basics… how did personality, characteristics, and psychology even develop? Where did I start? I’m telling you, I had a good time starting with Hippocrates and his four-temperament-theory.

The four temperament theory is a proto-psychological theory which suggests that there are four fundamental personality types: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic.[2][3] Most formulations include the possibility of mixtures among the types where an individual’s personality types overlap, and they share two or more temperaments. The Greek physician Hippocrates (c. 460 – c. 370 BC) described the four temperaments as part of the ancient medical concept of humorism that four bodily fluids affect human personality traits and behaviors. Modern medical science does not define a fixed relationship between internal secretions and personality, although some psychological personality type systems use categories similar to the Greek temperaments. (Source, Wikipedia)

Picture courtesy of wikipedia.com

After the history of Hippocrates and the blood-related psychology didn’t take me anywhere, I checked out different personality tests, which all ended up completely confusing. One tells me I’m an extrovert, the other tells me I’m an introvert, one tells me I’m an overcareful personality, while the other informs me that I should try to connect people. Otherwise, I could ‘end up in loneliness.’ I was about everything in between, from a hermit to a party-girl. I didn’t believe the one or other.

Then I read about the Meyers-Briggs Types. According to Meyers-Briggs, there are 16 personality types. I found that quite interesting and read a bit more about it. It seems in a way explainable and after studying the type indicator, which you can find here:

 

I took the free test because I was curious. I had considered myself an INFP Personality and turned out to be an INTP type, “The Thinker.” I was quite close, though.

In case you are curious, here is the personality type page I did the test on. It also shows you the type indicator and tells you exactly what the letters behind every personality means. – CONTINUE TO THE PERSONALITY TEST PAGE


Then I got one step further: since I am definitely not one of the founding members of ‘The Council Of Twelve,’ I do have a Zodiac sign. How well are the description of my Zodiac sign match the description of my ‘Meyer’s-Briggs’ personality test result? Let’s find out:

Meyers-Briggs INTP ‘The Thinker’ – Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving

  • Independent, unconventional, and original
  • Not likely to place much value on traditional goals such as popularity and security
  • Spend a lot of time inside your own mind
  • Strong ability to analyze problems, identify patterns, and come up with logical explanations
  • Highly value intelligence and knowledge
  • Love new ideas and become very excited over abstractions and theories
Picture courtesy of Google.com

 

The Capricorn woman might not be very confident, extrovert, and bold. Seduction and sexiness aren’t her favorite techniques. But she is very graceful, polished and well mannered. Capricorn nature is never overly emotional and dramatic. She will remain practical, emotionally stable, and sensible, even in the most sensitive situations. She is great at learning from mistakes. Unlike many women, she is open to constructive criticism. (Sorry, when it comes to me, that sentence is totally wrong. I just left it in the description because it made me laugh loudly.)

The Capricorn woman in marriage often keeps her own desires and needs behind for the happiness of the family. She is smart, hardworking, and capable of achieving the toughest goals in life. She also has a huge appetite for physical love and lust.

Capricorn females are often so fearful of the future that they become worriers before time. Small tensions and anxieties can make them gloomy, depressed, and pessimistic.

*************************************

Now, according to these personality studies of myself (HAHA), there are, indeed, a few conformities which I had marked with colored text. These similarities might be a coincidence, or there is indeed something about Zodiac signs.


All this taught me that no personality test is going to tell me I can’t be grumpy when I’m in a bad mood, even though I’m the most balanced character on Earth.

It also taught me, that this particular analysis of myself has taken me about four and a half hours. If I have to analyze each of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ characters this way, you won’t be able to read another book in the series before Easter 2032!

I figure I will continue building my characters the way I’m used to and won’t try to make them more detailed that Hippocrates told me to. LOL

But if you had taken the Meyer-Briggs test please, let us know the results in the comments. I thought it a lot of fun.

The Story And The Cover – Finding The Right Model

While working on ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, I built character by character, developed, considered their look, decided who they are and in what direction they would head within their story.

But also, I was ‘creating’ their look; dark hair, blue eyes, black hair, bronze eyes, tall, muscular, petite, almost ethereal. I will deliver many descriptions while ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series progresses.

In my head, the characters and their personality formed together with their look, and while creating them, I didn’t consider any consequences – like the book cover to the story.

Let me give you an example:
Katie is a breathtaking beauty with caramel colored hair and brown eyes; her cream skin makes her look almost fragile.

To find ‘Katie’ I was busy looking through hundreds of pictures on several websites. In a way, it was an exciting task, and my excitement grew with every picture. But after a while I got slightly bored, my hope slowly dying that I would find “THE” Katie… the woman I had created in my head.

I wish I could say, ‘suddenly’ I found her, just as she was in my fantasy… but the fact is, I didn’t. Katie was not one of the models, but the Model I found has caramel colored hair and is stunningly beautiful. I set the first mark on her picture. Whenever I discovered a model who got close to her beauty or my description, I tagged her. In the end, I compared all the models and by process of elimination, I ‘rejected’ one model after the next until I got ‘my Katie.’

I took some time to get used to ‘combine’ my fantasy with the model and then went through the different pictures of the model. Finally, I picked the one that’s on the cover now.

By now that’s ‘my Katie’ on the cover.

I was talking with my cover designer about the cover. I could deliver her Katie, but what about the rest of the cover? The man, the background, the font? I’m lucky to have a cover designer who knows her stuff. I informed her that I couldn’t go through the model search again. I wanted some mystery, some secret.

Soul Taker isn’t a love-story-romance where a man and a woman are kissing on the cover…


I wanted something different; a man every reader can connect to, and has the chance to create the character’s look in their own fantasy. And my cover designer found the solution. I’m very proud of the ‘Soul Taker’ cover.

Since the second book in the series is completed and only needs to return from the Copyright Lawyer, we had to get together and discuss the next cover.

Believe it or not – I was sitting on the monitor and dully clicked through hundreds of pictures.

Let me tell you – the thought of ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series is planned to contain 13 books, scares me.

How are you designing your covers? At what point do you start considering what should be on the cover, and if you have cover models – how do you pick them? Let us know about it in the comments. We’re curious.


Buy Soul Taker here:


Amazon Ebook US
Amazon Ebook UK
Amazon Paperback US
Amazon Paperback UK
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