Hurrah! My Characters are Fighting!

Using a Character Bible to Deepen Conflict

One item I keep returning to as I struggle with plotting and writing the opening of this new novel is my Character Bible.

My WIP is a complex novel with a dozen characters, all of whom need to stay straight in my reader’s mind. Which means I need to keep them straight. I created a “Bible” for the characters and keep adding to it, realigning relationships, tweaking descriptions, etc. as I work.

Here’s what’s in my Character Bible:

  • Name
  • Family
  • Description
  • Relationships
  • Back Story
  • Age
  • Unique Qualities
  • Attitudes about things related to the story

Some days I just work on the Character Bible, trying to add conflict among characters.

Love Conflict. For example, my main character is a teen girl and she meets a teen guy. One day, I just worked on how they relate to one another. I decided to give the guy a false bravado, so he’s always trying to pick up the girl. I looked up cheesy one-liners online and found some real gems:

  • You look cold. Want to use me as a blanket?
  • If I had a star for every time you brightened my day, I’d have a galaxy in my hand.
  • I was wondering if you had an extra heart, mine seems to be stolen.
  • Me without you is like a nerd without braces, a shoes without laces, aSentenceWithoutSpaces.

Whoa! What fun this will be to find/create/use the cheesiest ones possible.

Attitudes about Athletics. Another conflict that needs to occur is between three characters about the topic of what makes a person an athlete. There’s a former ballet star (male) now turned overweight chef, a high school senior cheerleader, and a chip-on-the-shoulder, about to be the big 4-0 years old tennis coach (female).

What makes the conflict between them work is the conflicting back story and their different stages of life. This is one of the minor conflicts in the story, not something major. But it has potential to add humor if done right.

I like sharpening the conflict while working with the Character Bible before I ever put it into the story itself. It’s helping me clarify the characters and get fixed in my mind the conflicts that should come out as I write.

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