Character Outline Template

A conversation that I’ve had with my fellow writers at work is the ‘outline vs winging it’ debate. I love this topic because personally, I am an outliner. But I love hearing about others’ writing processes. I think it is important to learn from other writers because there is never just one way to do something. Everyone has their own method of madness.

Unless it’s micro fiction or flash fiction, then I need to build the story on paper until it’s matching what’s going on in my head. For me, it’s a road map for the story. The methods of writing a paper were ingrained in from day one. The same goes for creating characters. Sometimes only one or two will show themselves to me.

So on the note of writers helping writers, I am willing to share the character-building template that I have been building over the years to help me visualize a character that might be in hiding in the back of my mind. For some, character creation can be either the hardest or easiest part, depending on the story.

Character Chart             

Character’s full name:

Reason or meaning of name:

Character’s nickname:

Reason for nickname:

Gender: ____Male ____Female ____Gender-fluid/non-binary ___transgender

Birthdate: __________________

Ethnicity : _____ African- American ____ Hispanic/Latino ____White/Caucasian ____Native American

____Oriental _____Middle-eastern/Eastern-European ____Eurpoean _____Other: ______________

Nationality: ___ American ___ Canadian _____German _____Irish ____French _____Spanish _____Russian _____Israeli ____ African _____Asian ___Australian ______Other: ___________

Religion: ____ Christian _____Jewish ___Buddhist ___Muslim ___Catholic _____Agnostic/Atheist ____Other: ________

Physical appearance

Age: _____

How old does he/she appear: ____ Young ___ Middle ____Older

Weight: ___

Height: ___ Tall ___ Average ___ Short

Body build: ____

The shape of the face: ___ Round ___ Square ___oblong ___ Rectangle ___ Heart ___elongated ___Oval ___ Diamond ___wolf-ish ___cat-like ____chiseled ___sharp ____jowly


Eyebrows (check all that apply): ___ Thin ____Medium ___ Full ___ Rounded ___ Arched ____ Flat/straight ___Hard-angled ___Soft ___plucked ___bushy

Nose: ___ Hooked ___Droopy ___aquiline ___Roman ___Grecian ___ Button ___Up-turned ___Snub ___Funnel

Complexion/ Skin tone: ___dark brown ___deep brown ___copper ____ (golden)honey ____amber ___cinnamon ___pallid ____pasty ___pale ___ivory ___porcelain ____rosey ___red ____florid ___olive

Skin texture/characteristics:___rough ____dimpled/jowley ___lined ___wrinkled ___leathery ___ smooth ___clear ___ silken ___satiny ____dry ___flaky/scaly ___flawless ____glowing



Distinguishing marks: ___ Moles ___ Freckles ___ Deformity

What do others first notice about their appearance? :


Overall attractiveness:

Scent (piney, creamy, natural ,etc):

Overall Health:

Physical disabilities:

Style of dress:

___Casual ___Business-Casual ___Business -Professional ___Black-tie ___Masculine ___Feminine

___Androgynous ___Metrosexual

Body posture: 


Favorite outfit:

Jewelry or accessories:


Good personality traits:

Bad personality traits:

Mood character is most often in:

Sense of humor:

Character’s greatest joy in life:

Character’s greatest fear:


What single event would most throw this character’s life into complete turmoil?

Character is most at ease when:

Most ill at ease when:

Enraged when:

Depressed or sad when:


Life philosophy:

If granted one wish, it would be:

Character’s soft spot:

Is this soft spot obvious to others?

Greatest strength:

Greatest vulnerability or weakness:

Biggest regret:

Minor regret:

Biggest accomplishment:

Minor accomplishment:

Past failures he/she would be embarrassed to have people know about:


Character’s darkest secret:

Does anyone else know?

Intellectual/Mental/Personality Attributes and Attitudes

Did they go to school?: 

Native language: 

How smart are they?:

Any Mental Illnesses?:

How does your character feel about

How does your character show affection/love?: 

How does your character handle grief? 

What are they like when they cry?: 

What can make them cry?:

How does your character handle physical pain?:

Is your character typically a leader or a follower?: 

Are they ‘big picture’ or ‘little details’?:

What kind of energy level does your character typically display?:


Drives and motivations:

Immediate goals:

Long term goals:

How the character plans to accomplish these goals:

How other characters will be affected:



Type of childhood:


First memory:

Most important childhood memory:


Childhood hero:

Dream job:





Current location:

Currently living with:




Finances: ___Frugal ___

Relationships & Family

Best friend(s)

Are they a virgin? 

Have they ever cheated on a partner?

Who was their first crush?

-What did they like about them? 

– Were their feelings reciprocated?

Have they ever been married?

Are they in any kind of relationship?

What is their sexual orientation?

___Gay ___Straight ___Lesbian ____Bisexual _____Asexual ___Pansexual ___other? :

Describe the relationship with their current partner:


Still Alive?: ____ Yes ___No


Relationship with her: ____ Close ___Distant ____Estranged ____Other (dead/unknown)


Relationship with him: ___Close ___Distant ___Estranged ___Other (dead/unknown)


Relationship with them:


Relationship with him/her:

Children: ____Yes ____No


Relationship with them:

Other important family members:






Form of entertainment:


Mode of transportation:

Most prized possession:



Plays a musical instrument?

Plays a sport?

How he/she would spend a rainy day:

Spending habits:



Other drugs:

What does he/she do too much of?

What does he/she do too little of?

Extremely skilled at:

Extremely unskilled at:

Nervous tics:

Usual body posture:



Personality Traits

Optimist or pessimist?

Introvert or extrovert?

Daredevil or cautious?

Logical or emotional?

Disorderly and messy or methodical and neat?

Prefer working or relaxing?

Confident or unsure of himself/herself?

Animal lover?


How he/she feels about himself/herself:

One word the character would use to describe self:

One paragraph description of how the character would describe self:

What does the character consider his/her best personality trait?

What does the character consider his/her worst personality trait?

What does the character consider his/her best physical characteristic?

What does the character consider his/her worst physical characteristic?

How does the character think others perceive him/her:

What would the character most like to change about himself/herself:

Relationships with others

Opinion of other people in general:

Does the character hide his/her true opinions and emotions from others?

Person character most hates:

Best friend(s):

Love interest(s):

Person character goes to for advice:

Person character feels responsible for or takes care of:

Person character feels shy or awkward around:

Person character openly admires:

Person character secretly admires:

Who is the most important person in the character’s life before the story starts:

After the story begins:

At the end of the story:

When I meet a character I am still not clear on, I like to imagine I am on a blind date. And what comes to mind, I write down and I go from there. It isn’t uncommon for me also to find qualities of my characters that I meet in my everyday life. And it is frightening at first. It feels like lightning has struck my whole body like a jolt runs through my body each time I see them. It feels a bit like love, but more terrifying. It feels like Emma Thompson did when she met her character, Harold, in the film Stranger than Fiction. When you feel like that, pay attention, the character inside your mind is trying to speak to you!

I built this with a lot of help from Bryn Donovan’s blog of Master Lists which you can check out online or even on Amazon Prime/Kindle! Her master lists have been there when you just struggle to find the right word.

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