Hello all, I thought I'd take a moment to give some advice to anyone writing or wanting to write character articles for this Wiki, specifically "main" characters. I know how daunting it can be starting out on a new article and hope that this guide will keep you on the right path and help you deliver a brilliant article! For additional help, check our manual of style.
Before commencing, you'll find it useful to decide on a structure for your article as this will save you time later. Main characters are formatted as follows:
- Lead section
- Traits (if appropriate)
- Relationships (if appropriate)
- Role in the community (if appropriate)
- Hobbies and interests (if appropriate)
- Background information
The BGI is irrelevant for the moment as that's a distinct entity. The rest are all written "in-universe" and you'll need to decide which sections to include and what information will go where when you do your research. You should be able to decide on the former from your knowledge of the character. Going through the optional sections:
- Traits - Include if the character had a notable wardrobe, appearance, hair, likes/dislikes, habits, a favourite drink, that sort of thing, particularly if they had more than one of the above. Bet Lynch is probably the best example as she had all of these!
- Relationships - If the character was around for more than a couple of years, make subsections for the characters they were most associated with. The longer they were around, the more subsections there should be.
- Role in the community - This one is quite rare and only really applicable to characters who had some sort of public role, such as Alf Roberts, Curly Watts and Sally Metcalfe (councillors), Annie Walker, Mike Baldwin (business owners of notoriety), Rita Tanner, Betty Williams, Ena Sharples (people who had been around so long that they were part of the furniture).
- Hobbies and interests - Self-explanatory. For many characters we never really get an insight into their interests but the majority of long-termers should have this section. For Hilda Ogden, her clairvoyancy, holidays and long-running quest to get a colour TV also merited their own subsections, but Hilda is probably a rare case.
The first thing to note is that we don't write these (or any) pages from memory. A good Corrie knowledge will help to speed things up once you start writing but it should never take the place of research.
All but one section of the main character articles are written "in-universe" and to write them you need a comprehensive list of everything that ever happened to that character, including their backstory. To compile an on-screen history, I have a Word document containing every episode synopsis which I search through for the character's name in order to list their storylines on a separate document (which takes ages, but if anyone can think of a faster way of getting the same thing, I'm all ears!).
When I'm adding a piece of info to the latter document, I then decide which section to put it in. This is where having a pre-planned structure helps. The biography is the main story of the character - their backstory, how they arrived in the street, major life changes, how they left or died. All the main beats should be here but don't clutter it. Anything unnecessary to the telling of that character's story can go in one of the other sections you've prepared. Even major storylines if they didn't have any long-term effects. An example is in the article I just wrote on Alf Roberts. In 1988 the storyline of Audrey going to Canada to see her adopted son Stephen Reid, and Malcolm Reid trying to steal Audrey away from Alf is omitted from the biography as, when the dust settled, everything was as it was before for the Roberts. It was used to flesh out the section on Alf and Audrey's relationship instead. You can also give something a cursory mention in the biography and expand in later sections if you wish.
Depending on the character, you may need to consult other sources as well. The backstories of the early characters were expanded in Daran Little's books such as Coronation Street at War, Weatherfield Life and Around the Houses. Also, there are a handful of moments I rewatch so that I can go into extra detail, mainly the character's introduction and exit (in fact, playing some of their key scenes in the background as you work on the article might not be a bad idea).
As I noted above, this is its own beast - the behind-the-scenes history of the character. For modern characters, you can probably get by with the web alone but for older ones (say pre-2000) you'll need access to the official books, plus a handful of others - H.V. Kershaw's The Street Where I Live and Bill Podmore's Coronation Street: The Inside Story are essential given their longevity in the role of producer. Other good ones include Sean Egan's 50 Years of Coronation Street: The (very) Unofficial Story and The Coronation Street Story from 1995.
On the web, Digital Spy and Coronation Street Blog are good sources as they've interviewed countless actors and production crew over the years but be sure to credit them and provide links to the full interviews. Behind-the-scenes documentaries such as The Corrie Years and its ilk are also useful. Anything you can get your hands on, really.
When picking out quotes (which must always be sourced), try to stick to quotes from the actor, their colleagues, writers or producers ie. anyone who had a hand in scripting or playing the character or knew people who did. Ignore press or viewer comments or promotional interviews, such as hype for upcoming storylines even if the comments originate from the actor him/herself.
Writing the article
Next on the agenda is to turn your list of storylines in each section into prose. With Relationships, you should also try to define what that relationship was like and how it evolved, using the storylines you have listed there to illustrate your points. Personality is similar and personally I find this the hardest section to write. I begin by brainstorming, writing the words or phrases which best describe the character, combine those to form a few paragraphs, and flesh those out with examples.
As you'll have noted when browsing the Wiki, we're not an image-heavy site. On character articles I normally leave a gap of around 1/1.5 pages between pictures. I like to use screencaps in the Biographies, publicity shots in the BGI and a mixture in the other sections but this is just a personal preference. The infobox image should be a screencap though.