Worksheet #14 – 3 Bios
Writers write bios all the time–for query letters, for a website, for cover copy, for grants and fellowships. I keep several versions of a bio on hand to fit whatever venue needs to know about me.
I urge writers to constantly update their bios. The exercise below kills two birds: it allows you to practice writing a bio and to get to know a character from three perspectives.
- Professional – a summary of the character’s current job status or their employment history.
- Personal – a summary of the character’s family, relationship status, hobbies, place in the community.
- Private – a summary of the character’s interior life or concerns or secrets–what he or she might divulge to a therapist.*
*The private bio might run a little longer if your character is carrying a lot of baggage.
Sample 3 Bios
The samples below are brief–3 to 5 sentences for professional and personal, 5 to 7 sentences for the private. They show the character at the START of the story.
Corporal Charlotte Rodney is a 5-year veteran of the Dover Department of Police. She is trained and certified in DARE, Internet Crimes Against Children, Cultural Diversity, Drug Crimes Investigation, and Advanced Collision. She earned a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and a Masters Degree in Strategic Leadership from Neumann University. As a patrol officer, Rodney received multiple commendations after the C&D Canal Bridge bombing. She is the School Resource Office at Dover High School.
Charlotte Rodney is 27 years old, the daughter of a Delaware State Senator and the Head Librarian of Kent County, so public service runs in her family. Charlotte was a state champion swimmer in high school, is a member of the Dover Unitarian Church, and a volunteer swimming and self-defense coach at the Boys & Girls Club of Dover. In her free time, she enjoys water sports and fishing, training her rescue Rottweiler named Brutus, and being bossed around by her three young nieces. She is single.
Charlotte Rodney’s family is a career asset as well as her Achilles heel. Her father is a charming politician who maintained a longtime affair with a colleague that everyone knows about but never acknowledges. Charlotte’s response has been to over-correct in her own personal integrity, but now that’s being tested. Only Charlotte knows the truth about the day a disturbed young man tried to bomb a local bridge. After negotiating on the catwalk for an hour, Charlotte didn’t jump into the river to save the bomber as the media reported and her department proudly claimed. In truth, after the would-be bomber jumped, Charlotte wobbled and fell over after the guy. That she pulled the man to safety doesn’t matter—she has allowed the lie to stand. Every day, Charlotte is terrified that someone will find out her brave act was bogus.
What am I trying to share about Charlotte in these three bios that I can use as I write the story?
- She is on a solid career path with a focus on helping young people.
- She is part of a public family so she is accustomed to public scrutiny.
- Her career might be affected by local politics, both public and departmental.
- She is athletic and active.
- She is educated by not particularly intellectual.
- She is engaged in the community, again with a focus on young people.
- She is not married but she’s close to her family.
- She hates liars but she can’t call out her own father.
- She’s afraid that, by living a lie, she may be turning into her father.
3 Bios Exercise
Choose a primary character in your story. Write his/her three bios.
Please note: All worksheets posted are my original work and intellectual property. I ask that you share the links on social media, and you are welcome to share the worksheets with your critique groups and writing friends with credit given. That being said, these worksheets—despite being posted on the Internet—may not be copied, distributed, or published as anyone’s work but mine. In short: sharing is good, plagiarism is bad.
Disclaimer #2: You may post your completed worksheet if you’d like, but please remember that, by doing so, you are sharing your ideas with all of the Internet. You’ve been warned.