Questions for Creating Character Backstory

One of the most frustrating processes I’m finding as a film student is how writing instructors assume you know what to do? In one of my recent classes, I was asked to create a character bio, which included creating a backstory. There wasn’t any chapter in the two books that I was required to purchase for the class. I was given my assignment back, as well as chance to do it over. “How was I suppose to know what I didn’t know?”

I was given a link to Julie Gray’s article, “Is Backstory Important?”

I thought to myself, “Why did I purchase two books on writing a short film?”

After thinking about it for that evening, I quickly realized that there are several things about the process of writing that haven’t been published. So, I decided to create a blog resource for how to create a character backstory.

The questions I’m creating are taken from several websites. These questions were created from Laura Cross’s article, “How To Create Your Main Character’s Backstory.”

While doing this, keep in mind what Guy Gallo says in his book “ScreenWriter’s Compass- Character As True North” about backstory.

Backstory is that part of your understanding of a character’s past that actually shows up in the present tense of the screenplay. 

  1. What is your character’s age?
  2. Is your character a male or female?
  3. What is your character’s name?
  4. Where was your character birthplace?
  5. What does your character do for a living?
  6. Does your character have any religious affiliations?
  7. Describe your character’s physical appearances.
  8. What is your character’s attitude towards the opposite sex?
  9. Does your character go to school?
    1. High School?
      1. Graduated?
      2. Dropped out?
        1. What grade did they drop out at?
    2. College?
      1. Bachelor Degree?
      2. Masters Degree?
      3. Doctorate


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