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Last updated on Feb 03, 2023

How to Create a Character Profile [with Free Template]

Ask any great novelist and they’ll likely tell you that good writing starts with good characters. But sharp character development is also one of the toughest hills to climb, especially if you’ve struggled to think through those tried-and-true questions that keep you up at night:

  • Are my characters convincing?
  • Do my characters have depth?
  • How do I make sure my character has an arc?

If you’re having these doubts, you might want to turn to the age-old solution: a character profile. In this post, we take you through all the steps that creating a character profile requires — and give you a character template that you can use with any story you’re writing.

What is a character profile?

A character profile is a detailed biography of a fictional character that covers everything from a character’s age and appearance to their relationships. By answering the questions on a character profile, an author can better understand that character’s life, personality, motivations, and story function in a novel.

What’s the point of filling out a character template? I never end up using all the information in my story, anyway! That’s true. In fact, you shouldn’t try to pack every character detail into your novel. Only use what's relevant to the actual story — otherwise you risk turning off readers with the dreaded "info dump."

But the author always needs to understand their characters like the back of their hands. In Creating Unforgettable Characters: A Practical Guide to Character Development, Linda Seger compares the depth of a character to an iceberg. The audience will only see a fraction (maybe 10%) of all that the writer knows about their character. But the remaining 90% is what makes characters actually feel well-drawn, flawed, and real — as though they could live outside of the book itself.

Those are the kinds of characters our character bible is here to help you write.


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So what makes a good character profile?

There are a lot of character bibles out there — some are good. Then there's the character template that asks you, “If your character was a color, what color would they be?”

Once you start answering those kinds of questions in a character template, you might be dealing with overkill. It won’t move the needle at all when it comes to character development.

A better character profile is one that actually helps you build a holistic picture of your character in the context of your story. With this in mind, we built a character profile worksheet in three parts. If you treat a person like an apple, they’re going to have three layers of depth: the “skin,” the “flesh,” and the “core.” (Otherwise known as their physical appearance, backstory, and psychology.) That’s how this character template is structured — and if you have a particular area that you’d like to hone, you can skip to it below. Otherwise, this character bible will start with the eagle eye’s view of your character.

We strongly recommend downloading the template in a PDF format, which will allow you to fill it out and personalize it yourself as you go along. Feel free to do so below! 


Reedsy’s Character Profile Template

A story is only as strong as its characters. Fill this out to develop yours.

Ready? Let’s begin.

PART 1: The Outer Layer, or Physical Appearance
PART 2: The Flesh, or Backstory
PART 3: The Core, or Psychology

Part 1: The Outer Layer

To be able to identify a criminal, detectives build a painstakingly thorough file of said criminal’s physical characteristics.

That’s the goal of this section, which covers the “skin” of your character: everything from their outer appearance to the way that they speak. Think of it as a kind of offender profile — one that can help you spot your character in the middle of a crowded Times Square.


  • Name
  • Age
  • Place of birth
  • Current location
  • Nationality
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Income


What's their:

  • eye color?
  • hair style?
  • build?

Do they have any distinguishing features (tattoos, scars, birthmarks)?

What's their preferred outfit?

Do they wear glasses? 👓

What accessories are ALWAYS associated with them (cane, pipe, necklace, etc.)? 🌂

What's their usual level of grooming?

  • Disheveled
  • Smart, very put together
  • Untidy but clean
  • Other?

Do they have any distinguishing “tics” and mannerisms?

What's their health like? Do they suffer from chronic illnesses? 🏥

Describe their handwriting (sloppy, neat, careful, unintelligible). ✍

How do they walk? 👣

  • Confident, powerful strides
  • Lazy stroll
  • Fast, walks at a clip
  • Distracted, eyes on the ground
  • Other?


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How do they talk (rapid, slow, measured, drawl, etc.)?

What's the style of their speech (elevated, educated, peppered with slang, etc.)?

Do they have an accent?


  • Stiff, military
  • Slouching
  • Casual and relaxed
  • ‘Turtle,’ tired
  • Other?

Do they gesture?

  • Only when agitated or eager
  • Doesn’t gesture
  • Compulsive “hand-talker”
  • Controlled, only to make a point
  • Other? If so, explain:

How much eye contact that they like to make (direct, shifty, etc.)?

What's their preferred curse word?

What's their catchphrase?

Any speech impediments?

What are any distinguishing speech “tics”?

What's their laugh like? What do they tend to find funny?

Describe their smile?

How emotive are they? Do they wear their emotions on their sleeve? How easily can others to read them?

They have a resting _____ face.

  • Bitch 😒
  • Angel 😇
  • Neutral 😐
  • Other?

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Part 2: The Flesh

Characters don’t exist in a vacuum — they’re a product of their environment.

This section in the character template dives a bit deeper into your character and covers their “flesh”: the people, circumstances, and formative influences that filled them out and made them who they are today. It’s the springboard to your character’s biography.


What's the name of their hometown? 🏡

What type of childhood did they have (sheltered, neglected, etc.)?

Describe their education? 🍏

Were they involved in organizations and clubs at school?

  • Sports ⚽
  • Debate 🗣
  • Gay / Straight Alliance
  • Model UN
  • Drama 🎭
  • Other? If so, explain:

At graduation, they were named Most Likely To ___________ in the yearbook. 🎓

Jobs (if applicable)? What would their résumé look like? 💼

What was their dream job as a child? Why?

Who were their role models growing up? Describe them. 👨‍👦

What's their greatest regret?

What were their hobbies growing up? ⛳

Favorite place to be as a child?

What's their earliest memory?

What's their saddest memory?

What's their happiest memory?

What's their clearest memory?

What are their skeletons in the closet? 💀

If they could change one thing from their past, what would it be? Why? ⏳

Describe the major turning points or “life beats” in childhood.

What are three adjectives to describe them as a child?

What advice would they give to their younger self?

List their criminal record. ⚖


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Father 👨

  • Age (if living)
  • Occupation
  • Briefly describe their relationship with your character

Mother 👩

  • Age (if living)
  • Occupation
  • Briefly describe their relationship with your character


  • How many?
  • What are their names and ages?
  • Briefly describe their relationship(s) with your character

Children 👶(if applicable)

  • Age (if living)
  • Occupation
  • Briefly describe their relationship with your character

Extended family 👴

  • Grandparents
  • Uncles and aunts
  • Cousins
  • Other

What's their family's economic status? 💰

How often do they see their family in a year?


Who are their closest friends? Describe them.

Who are their other significant friends? 👋

Enemies? Describe them. 😡

How are they perceived by:

  • strangers in the street?
  • acquaintances at a work function?
  • colleagues in the office?
  • authority figures?
  • friends in their friend circles?
  • children?
  • the opposite sex?
  • extended family?

What social media platforms are they on?

  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Other? If so, explain.

How would they use their social media platforms?

How would they fill out an online dating profile for themselves? ✨

What’s their role in a group dynamic? 💡

  • Leader
  • Joker
  • Parent
  • Hype man
  • Mooch
  • Other? If so, explain.

Who do they depend on for:

  • practical advice?
  • mentoring
  • a wingman?
  • emotional support?
  • moral support?

How quickly do they respond to emails? 📨

What do they want from a relationship?

Who would be their ideal partner? 💖

Who is their significant other? Describe them. 💕

How many people would attend their funeral?

Part 3: The Core

We’ve come now to the “core”: who your character is deep down.

This section in the character profile worksheet covers the “heart” of your character. If a backstory shapes a dynamic character, this will define them. More importantly, it will help inform the two most important points leading up to your novel: the character’s story goal and story motivation.


What do they do on rainy days?

Are they:

  • Street-smart or book-smart
  • An optimist or pessimist
  • Introverted or Extroverted

What is their favorite sound? 🔊

Favorite place in the world? 🌎

What secrets do they keep? What are they most afraid of people finding out? 🔒

What do they want the most? 🔍

What's their biggest flaw?

What's their biggest strength?

What's their biggest fear?

What is their biggest accomplishment? 📈

What is their idea of perfect happiness?

What's their favorite quote? 👌

Do they want to be remembered? What for? ⌚

How do they approach:

  • power?
  • ambition?
  • love?
  • change?

What is the one object or possession that they would rescue from their burning home? 🔥

What (or who) bores them? 💤

What makes them angry? 💢

What do they look for in a person?

How strong is their moral compass? When, specifically, are they willing to compromise their morals?

List the last 10 books they read. 📚

Which fictional world would they most wish to visit?

If they didn’t have to sleep, what would they do with the extra time?

What are their pet peeves? ⚠

If they won the lottery, what would they do?

Describe the character’s bucket list at the ages of 15, 20, 30, and 40.

List the 10 songs that would occupy their All-Time Most Played playlist on Spotify. 🎵

What is the best compliment that someone ever paid them?

In an elevator, do they push the elevator button more than once? 🚪

What would they want their tombstone to say?


What is their story goal? (answer in a single paragraph)

Story motivation (answer in a single paragraph)

In other words: what does your character want in the story? Why do they want it? Every other answer in the character template builds up to this. This is critical information to know because it’ll make up the unshakable foundation — and raison d'être — for your story. Whenever you feel like your story is straying off course, go straight back to your character’s story goal and motivation.

And if you lose physical sight of this character template, don’t sweat because we made it a portable resource for you.

The Ultimate Character Profile Template

This downloadable character profile template will come as a fillable PDF file. Simply save it on to your computer and start typing in the text boxes to start developing your character.


Reedsy’s Character Profile Template

A story is only as strong as its characters. Fill this out to develop yours.

Additional resources

If you’re in an interrogatory mood and want even more questions outside of this character template, we’ve got your back. Here are some more famous tests with which to quiz your character — and a character bible or two for your further perusal!

The Proust Questionnaire

What it is: A set of questions popularized by Marcel Proust that digs into an individual’s personality.

Some sample questions:

  1. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
  2. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
  3. On what occasion do you lie?

Arthur Aron’s Intimacy Test

What it is: A questionnaire of 36 questions that the New York Times in 2015 said would break down emotional barriers and accelerate intimacy between two strangers.

Some sample questions:

  1. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
  2. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
  3. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?

The Book of Questions

What it is: A series of questions by Gregory Stock that was initially published in 1987. (Note: you can find a PDF of 300+ questions here.)

Some sample questions:

  1. At a meal, your friends start belittling a common acquaintance. If you felt their criticisms were unjustified, would you defend the person?
  2. Are you able to separate sex from love?
  3. When you make a big sacrifice, do you tell people about it or keep it to yourself? What would you never willingly sacrifice? Your life? Your health? Your integrity? Your dreams?

Vault’s 101 Behavioral Questions

What it is: A set of 101 interview questions from career site, Vault.

Some sample questions:

  1. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Twenty years?
  2. Tell me about yourself in 30 seconds.
  3. Tell me about a time you had to break a promise. What was the situation and how did you handle it?

If you're looking to hone your characters even further, here are seven of the best character development exercises. Keep an open mind as you work through every question and you'll be on your way to creating well-drawn, interesting characters in no time at all.

Have you used a character profile or a character bible to develop your characters before? Do you have any dependable character questions that our questionnaire lacks? Tell us in the comments below!


– Originally published on May 31, 2018

24 responses

Rachel Mendell says:

02/06/2018 – 12:23

excellent! so much info - thank you.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

07/06/2018 – 04:37

Our pleasure, Rachel. Glad that it helped!

Diane says:

07/06/2018 – 08:50

Wow! I tried to find such kind of list many times. Thank you so much! Creating character is always difficult for me. I imagine tutoriage character but it was not full. With this list Finally I will finish it.

Jon says:

22/01/2019 – 15:37

Nice I was gonna make one myself but this is great since normally I obsess to the point of procrastination.

Gwendolyn Clark says:

13/05/2019 – 00:09

I was never sent a copy to download

↪️ Martin Cavannagh replied:

13/05/2019 – 08:20

Hi Gwendolyn, could you drop us an email at service@reedy.com and we'll sort you out with a link :)

Sabrina Douglas says:

08/06/2019 – 16:40

I have not received the PDF yet.

↪️ Martin Cavannagh replied:

10/06/2019 – 13:48

With Gmail, our emails often can be found in the Promotions folder. if it's not there, send us an email at service@reedsy.com and we'll sort you out :)

Tactical Weasel says:

08/06/2019 – 23:18

I was never sent a copy to download either.

Ibidun says:

02/07/2019 – 01:47

This is a developed list of questions for sure. Thank you!

susannelorraineharford says:

21/08/2019 – 08:01

Thanks! Great help in this articke. X peace, susanne

james bolin says:

22/08/2019 – 21:05

This my be a crazy question, but I am writing a science fiction book, and I already made character profiles for my ow use. But, that being said, would it make sense to also include a section in the book that includes all the main characters profiles. It would serve as a reference in case someone wants to know the characters hair color, birth date, and other details. any advice would help thanks

↪️ Martin Cavannagh replied:

23/08/2019 – 09:04

It would be a somewhat unusual move — but it's not for me to say if it's wrong. Often, you see books provide family trees and brief histories of the 'world' of the story... but that tends to be so that readers can check up on facts that are highly relevant to relationships and plot of the book. In almost all cases, readers won't really need to know things like hair color or date of birth. So, I'd think hard before putting a character stat sheet in your book.

↪️ Nyla replied:

02/09/2019 – 16:12

I don't see why not! Some books did it (sort of); Wings of Fire, Tailchaser's Song, Warriors... I don't think including one would be a bad move. Definitely not something that would kill your story. Keep in mind that I'm a beginner when it comes to books, so I may not know any better. I'm just saying that in my opinion, I don't think it's a bad move.

Satyajay Mandal says:

25/08/2019 – 04:31

You can tweet me to get more updates on the story I'm directing

Nyla says:

02/09/2019 – 16:13

What do you mean by "education"? Like what school they went to?

↪️ Martin Cavannagh replied:

17/09/2019 – 09:02

Yup. Are they a college grad? What did they study? Did they leave school at 18 and take up an apprenticeship — that sort of thing.

Sky says:

27/09/2019 – 14:03

Will i ever get the document to download!

↪️ Martin Cavannagh replied:

07/10/2019 – 15:48

Hi Sky, if you're still having trouble downloading the template, could you drop us a message at marketing@reedsy.com? Thanks! Martin

Satyajay Mandal says:

20/10/2019 – 03:56

I will update you about all the details

Max Sangers says:

23/03/2020 – 20:16

I like it, just pls refrain from bad language :)

Satyajay Mandal says:

26/03/2020 – 04:49

No need to refrain from using bad language, if it is assigned to the villains instead of the heroes/heroines

Satyajay Mandal says:

26/03/2020 – 05:02

No need to refrain from using bad language if it is assigned to the villains instead of the heroes/heroines

Jade says:

28/03/2020 – 05:01

This is @*#$ing AWESOME!!!

Comments are currently closed.