Thursday, 15 September 2016

Building a Character Profile

For me, character profiles are essential. You can think of the people you want to tell your story about, give them names....but they aren't believable unless you really figure out who they are.

No one person has a single facet. So we have a life-saving, award-winning surgeon...who also works as a volunteer at the puppy shelter (aaaaaaw) Or we have the life-saving, award-winning surgeon who kidnaps and murders women in his free time (oooookaaaaaay). Just adding that one other attribute to the same character completely changes who they are, it gives them another dimension than what we first see on the that good or bad.

Once we start adding lots of these different sides to our characters, they become 'real' people. They have motivations, fears, quirks etc - they aren't just made from a cookie cutter mould, each person on the page is unique to your story.

So how do I do this?

Some writers prefer to just get to know their characters as they write, which is great - but I need something more to work with before I start. Then, when I start writing, I feel like I truly know who my characters are, and how they would believably react in given well as getting to know more about them as I write.

I build my characters using a profile. You can find tons of different templates online that you can use, ranging from those with 300+ questions (whoa there!), or the very basic skeletons that you can build on. The template I use is a mixture of different ones that I came across. Filling this out for each character really helped me develop them and work out who they were.

Can this process become tedious? YES. If, like me you have ALOT of characters, then profiling all of them can feel like a waste of time - but trust me it will be worth it. Don't leave characters out. Focus on your main characters first, and go the most in-depth with their profiles....after that, you pick and choose what to include for your side characters. But I definitely recommend profiling all of them in some form.

During this process, you can really explore the backgrounds of your characters, and discover things about them that you didn't even know! For instance - in my book, there is an EXTREMELY badass pirate named Enobia, who you would not want to meet at night in a dark me....and as I was working on her profile I had the vision of Enobia snoring while she sleeps.....loudly. I laughed when I came up with this little addition to her character. Does it change who she is as a fundamental person? Nope, but it gives her just one more trait that makes her human...and it's funny.

Try to have fun with this stage, grow confident with the people you are going to be writing about. The characters drive your story, they need to be complicated and believable. That starts from the beginning. With the profiles.

Below is the profile that I have used for the main characters in my novel. For side characters, I just took some questions away that I didn't feel were necessary, and for some characters the profiles were really short. Just pick and choose what you feel is important. This profile goes pretty in-depth, that's how I prefer to do it. Not all of this will make it into the books, not all of it drives the story forward - but I know these things about my characters and that's what matters to me.

Character Template


Name -
Age -
Birthday -
Nicknames/Titles -
Nationality -
Accent/Dialect -
Parents -
Siblings -
Children -
Other Family -
Pets -
Money/Wealth -


Illnesses/Disorders/Allergies -
Broken Bones/Physical Ailments -
Mental Health -
Diet/Exercise -
Sleep Patterns -


Skin Colour -
Facial Features -
Eye Colour -
Hair Colour -
Hair Length/Style -
Facial Hair -
Height  -
Scars -
Piercings -
Tattoos -
Dress Style -
Most Prized Possessions -
Makeup -


Priorites/Motivations -
Worries/Fears/Phobias -
Desires/Wishes -
Secrets -
Soft Spots -
Quirks/Mannerisms -
Likes -
Dislikes -
Attitude/Outlook on Life -
Religion/Beliefs -
Virtues -
Vices -
Favourite Animal -
Favourite Colour -
Favourite Food -
Favourite Drink -
Dominance -
Humour -



Sexual Orientation -
Sexual History -
Romantic History -
Love Interests -


Birthplace -
Manner of Birth -
Childhood/Adolescence -
Accomplishments/Achievements -
Failures/Regrets -
Traumas -
Schooling -
Previous Jobs -


Confidantes/Friends -
Enemies -


Please do feel free to take and use this character profile template and apply it to your characters. I hope that it helps you create the people in your book and get to know them better.

How do you create your characters? Do you enjoy this process or find it tedious? Do you use a template like this one?


all pictures sourced from Google


  1. I've been trying to read this post since you first shared it but I never got chance. I think I tend to lean towards making it up as I go along but reading this has made me want to try profiling my characters first.

    1. It is sooooo worth it! If you know your character's inside and out it makes writing them so much easier!


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