Character Templates

I wrote fanfiction for years. This made me pretty lazy when it came to character sketching and development. There is nothing easier than taking a character you already know and love and putting them in interesting situations.

Writing with already conceptualized characters is like tracing a drawing. There may be some deviation but the goal is to stay in the lines.

For the first time in a long time, I had to develop my own characters. With their own quirks and their own pity comments. I didn’t realize how unprepared I was until mid-October when I took a step away from plot development and decided to start world-building.

It was at that moment I realized how out of depth I was. I had my two main characters pretty nicely sketched out in my mind, but I didn’t realize how many side characters and background characters had influenced my plot. Along with my main characters, I had plenty of side characters or historical characters that needed names, physical traits and personalities.

One of the main problems I had was addressing motivation, especially how it related to plot. I needed to actually write out what my character’s motivations were, which would help with tightening the plot and making the characters more believable.

I began with focusing on Character Sketching, I wanted to see how others were setting up their own character templates. Since this was something that was fairly new to me, I wanted to see the variations that people were using.

I found a lot of Character Sketching templates that seemed applicable to Mainstream Fiction rather than Fantasy based settings. Listing schooling, previous jobs, and favourite hobbies seemed less of an imperative in a Fantasy novel.

I’m not sure why I’d ever need to figure out a character’s favourite food or colour… I’m not the Bridgekeeper in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

  KEEPER:  Stop!  What is your name?
  GALAHAD:  Sir Galahad of Camelot.
  KEEPER:  What is your quest?
  GALAHAD:  I seek the Holy Grail.
  KEEPER:  What is your favorite color?
  GALAHAD:  Blue.  No yel--  Auuuuuuuugh!

None of the simpler templates ended up being useful for what I needed. I didn’t want sprawling information, but I also didn’t want to have a bare-bones template that I would regret in a month’s time.

I found more elaborate templates as I kept looking, but I ended creating my own.  This allowed me the room tinker with the characters and add in more information that came up as I wrote. Some characters have paragraphs written in each section, some only really need a line or two. 

Name :

Name Origin:

Age : 

Birthplace:

Current Residence:

Appearance: 

Distinguishing Features:

Special Talent :

Personality :

Relationship to Family :

Relationship to Others/How he is perceived:

Working on the character templates made it easier to continue the world-building because it forced me to actually sit down and think about the characters and how they would interact with each other. There are sections of plot that I was able to outline just by having a clear character template.

Linked is pdf example of a slightly more detailed Character Questionnaire I ended up creating for printing out. I found I was able to go as in-depth or as sparse with information as I wanted to. The questionnaire is available for home and personal use. Any other posting or use requires my consent.