My guide to writing character bios on SS
Writing a good bio for your character can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re new to Animation Source. With that in mind, I figured this helpful guide might just give you some useful pointers to enable you to write some nice detailed profiles for your characters.
There are some aspects of character design that are fairly straightforward. Name, gender and appearance are all pretty much obvious when you’re creating your character. But the more information you include in your character’s bio, the better your character will be, and the easier it will be for other people to understand and respond to your character. So write as much as you can! The more information, the better!
As I said, there are some fairly obvious categories you need to fill when writing your character’s bio. These include name, gender, personality, history and Spirit relation. But your bio will look pretty empty if that’s all you write. The basic form below outlines some helpful categories to include in your character’s bio. They are by no means exclusive. You can include as many as these categories as you want, and more. In fact, it is highly recommended that you add more categories to the form. Like I said, the more information, the better!
Relation to Spirit:
For now, I’m going to run you through each category and explain them a little.
One of the very first things people will notice about your character is their name. Names are important. They give you a sense of the character’s personality and world view before you’ve even met them. For example, ‘Spirit’ makes you think of someone who’s powerful, motivated, energetic and mysterious. ‘Rain’ on the other hand could be someone who’s gentle and refreshing, or turbulent and emotional. And ‘Esperanza’ means ‘hope’, reflecting her hope that her son would return to the herd someday. So you see, names give you an insight into the character before you’ve even started to read their bio. Whatever you name your character, make sure it suits them and their story.
Nicknames are also important. What do others call your character? What do their friends/family/enemies call them? Names will particularly be shortened to nicknames if your character has a long name, like Thunderstorm. They could be called ‘Thunder’, ‘Storm’ or ‘Stormy’. Or something relating to other aspects of them, such as physical features, personality, even baby names.
Don’t just say ‘foal’ or ‘adult’ for your character’s age. Be specific. Even if they don’t know their own age, you as their creator do. And be realistic. Horses don’t age the same way humans do. Youngsters are foals from the age of 0 to about 2 years old. At 1 year old they’re called ‘yearlings’. From 2-3 years old they’re considered adults. Domestic horses may live to about 25-30 years. Wild horses are lucky if they reach 20 years old.
Your horse’s breed reflects their physical characteristics. Friesians will have feathered hooves, for example. Drafts will be tall and bulky, ponies will be short and stocky. Also, think about the colours that your chosen breed can be. For example, Friesians are almost always black, whilst Camargues are predominantly grey, and Suffolk Punch’s are always chestnut. What’s more, consider the historical accuracy of the breed. The movie Spirit is set in the late 1800s in North America. So a breed such as a Camarillo White horse would be out of place, since this breed wasn’t developed until 1921. Do your research and choose an appropriate breed for your character.
By which I mean whether your character is anatomically male or female. Male foals are called colts. Female foals are called fillies. Once they reach about 2 or 3 years old, males are called stallions and females are called mares. A castrated male is called a gelding.
Horses and ponies are measured in hands, or hh. Research the appropriate size for your chosen breed, and choose a realistic height for your character. Mustangs are generally anywhere from 14 to 16 hh. For more information, check out this guide.
Tell us about your character’s family. Even if they’re an orphan, or don’t know their parents, putting ‘unknown’ is just lazy. If you don’t want your character to know their parents, say so in their history. But that doesn’t stop you naming their mother and father in their bio. The same goes for their brothers and sisters. Alternatively, you could write ‘open’ in these sections, giving other people the opportunity to create or offer their own characters as your character’s family.
Relation to Spirit
Characters on Spirit Source MUST have a relation to one or more of the official characters. This doesn’t have to be a family relation, but they must be connected to the story of the movie and/or its universe. For more information, go here.
Family & Friends
Many people like to leave the ‘mate’ section open, so that other people can make them or offer their own characters. Once your character has a mate/love interest, be sure to put it in their bio so other people can see it. The same goes for ‘Foals’, ‘Herd’, ‘friends’ and ‘enemies’.
Tell us what your character is like. What do they feel strongly about? What are their goals, fears, outlook on life? Are they mischievous, playful, kind, gentle, snobbish, cruel, proud, courageous?
Likes and Dislikes
Tell us about what your character likes and dislikes. Try to be inventive. Everyone dislikes their family being hurt. Think about little things, like favourite food, favourite weather, and things about others that they hate, like practical jokes or snoring. The more little things like these you add, the more your character will come to life.
This is where you tell your character’s story. Start with their early life: their relationships with their parents/siblings/herd mates/humans. If they’re adults, what happened when they grew up? Make sure you clearly explain their Spirit relation here, or your character may be deactivated.
If you used a free lineart/render for your character’s image, here’s the place to credit it. If you made it yourself, say so. Always make sure you credit the linearts/renders/backgrounds you use in your pictures.
Ok, I think that’s more than enough from me now. Hopefully this guide has given you some helpful pointers to writing your own bios. Don’t forget to check out the other guides here, as well as the Must See profiles for examples of how to make brilliant bios. And have fun! Remember, the more information, the better!