Writing Tools: Character Detail Template
As usual, I’m always on the lookout for better ways to plan my stories, such as new digital tools or methods. This weekend, I threw together a new template to develop my characters for an upcoming story. The idea sparked from some of the Evernote templates I’ve used in the past, and although those gave me a great starting point, I still had a lot of adjustments to make to fit with my writing process. I posted a picture of the template on Instagram and got a lot of comments and messages, so I figured I’d share it with you all!
About the Template
There’s no question about it: I’m a plotter. My level of planning might be intense for some or even lax for others, but the beauty about this template is that you can make it whatever you want it to be.
I included the main things that make up a character:
And things that would affect the plot:
I also included a section where you can insert a picture. I like having a photo to reference so that my character descriptions are consistent. Also, seeing a real photo helps me get those nitty ditty details that maybe the notes I wrote in the appearance section couldn’t. It gives me a little more to work with to make the person seem more realistic. If you’re able to develop a character in your head and work from that, more power to you!
Get the template here: Character Detail Template
How to Use the Template
I wanted to be as helpful as I could be, so I added notes for what to consider in each section. There may be too many or too little things depending on the type of story/genre you’re writing.
Take a look at the sheet to see how you can build out each section. Know you can use it however your heart desires. If you prefer to simply jot down some quick key details, great. If you rather use it to build out a detailed character profile, that’s good too.
Another thing to consider is how you’ll literally use it. For me, I keep this on my Google Drive so I can access it from any device (it makes it easy to add to it whenever ideas strike). I also print out a version of it and keep it in a notebook I can reference while I’m writing. I found the notebook keeps my writing flow better than having to go between screens to review something on my Drive. Or if you prefer writing by hand, you can clear out the text I have in the blocks, print it out, and use it as a physical worksheet. Sky’s the limit!
Ideas for Adjustments
Everyone’s writing process is different. The great thing about this template is that you can make it whatever you need it to be. This template is a good starting point, but you could also add in more sections that are relevant for your story. For example:
- If you’re writing sci-fi/fantasy, do you need details about the world you created? How about the attributes of your characters that are different from your everyday human?
- If you’re writing a mystery, do you need to keep track of all the clues the character has to discover or what skills they picked up through the story?
- If you’re writing a book about relationships, what history does your character have with another major character that will play into the story?
- For a time traveler, what places did they discover? What types of clothes/terms/historical facts are important?
- For a story that spans over someone’s life, how does their appearance or identity change?
- For a series, what new developments happened in the character’s life through the previous books that you need to remember going forward?
As you can see, there are a lot of different things you can add to the template. I hope these suggestions gave you a lot to consider!
Writers: Which tools have you found helpful when developing your characters?
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