One of the most important (and fun!) parts of writing fiction is creating characters that feel like real people, characters you can see and hear in your head, characters your readers will love, or love to hate. Complex, multidimensional characters have the potential to drive your story, engage your readers and create an impression that will have people begging for a sequel.
Before I go any further, I want to make it super clear that free means free. You can download the template right here, right now. It’s not a free gift for signing up to something or a sneaky way to get you onto a mailing list. It’s literally just a free thing that you can have if you want it. There’s nothing magical, secret or desperately original in there either. It’s just a list of traits and qualities that I find useful to know about my fictional people, so share it if you want, chop it up and mix it with other templates if that floats your boat. Basically, just use it in whatever way you want to use it. So…
Yay free thing!
Download it, use it and enjoy it 🙂
Character Profile Template.docx
Since you’re here, I’m going to assume you’re probably a writer, so let’s have a chat about character creation and using profile templates…
Why have character profiles at all?
Sure, you could write a whole book without any character profiles, but it would probably be needlessly difficult. I’m absolutely not saying you have to create complete, detailed character profiles before you start writing. You can, but it might not work for you. I tend to start with a brief profile and then discover my characters as I free-write or zero-draft a story, filling in a more detailed template before I start for real on my first draft.
How a character profile can help you plan your story
What I said at the top of the page about complex, multidimensional characters having the potential to drive your story? Knowing your characters means you’ll know they’ll react in any situation you throw them into. This means they’ll be able to help you with what happens next when you hit a brick wall in your plot. Yes, there are twists and turns, and people do out-of-character things, but knowing someone is highly organised and calm in a crisis, for example, will help you figure out how they’ll deal with the disaster they’re experiencing in your book.
How a character profile can help you keep track of practical information
What colour are Pierre’s eyes? Does Ellen wear her glasses all the time or just for reading? What year did Avery finish their degree? You might be amazing at remembering these details, but having them all written down somewhere can make it so much easier. This is especially useful if you’re working with an ensemble cast or your story takes place across a long period of time (hello, my fellow flashback lovers!).
How a character profile can help you get to know your characters as ‘real’ people
The downloadable template prompts you to come up with a lot of information that probably won’t even make it into your book. Maybe you’re never going to mention that Hans hasn’t spoken to his mother since he was eighteen or that Sofia has a scar on her leg from a car accident when she was a child, but chances are those little details will impact your characters’ everyday lives in some way. Maybe Hans feels awkward when his new boyfriend asks about his family. Perhaps Sofia gets anxious on the motorway. Even if you don’t think it matters what your characters like to read or watch, or what they wear to work, it’s still worth knowing these things because it helps them to feel more real to you and I promise that will shine through in your writing.
A final note
Absolutely nothing in the downloadable template is set in stone. You can ignore bits you don’t need (perhaps your story is set in a time when TV shows and films didn’t exist, or no-one drove anything), add in bits that are relevant (maybe your characters are assigned to houses at school), or grab some of the prompts or traits from the template to add in to your own favourite resource for character development. This free gift isn’t an act of advertising (my website URL is at the bottom, but only in case you want to remember where you got it from). It’s an act of sharing, because I believe firmly in community and connection, and what better way to connect with a community than to share resources?
Speaking of connection and community, my next post will be about online writing communities I’m part of and why I think they’re awesome. I’d love to see you back here for that, so you’re very welcome to subscribe to receive notifications of new posts by email using the little form in the sidebar. If you’re a WordPress user, you can click the Follow tab in the bottom right of your screen and you’ll see my posts in your WordPress Reader.
I love talking about character creation with other writers, so why not leave a comment and tell me about your favourite (or least favourite) part of building fascinating people for your stories? Thanks for reading and see you again soon! ❤