Basic Character Questionnaire: A Simple Template for Building Characters

by Hope G. Hanson
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For many writers, one of the most annoying parts of writing a story is keeping track of a seemingly ever-growing and never-ending cast of characters. From main characters to secondary characters to throwaways who are present for all of five seconds (but who might end up making another appearance later on, so you can’t just forget about them), there tend to be a lot of people involved in any story. And writers need to keep track of who they are and what they look like and how they act, or else face inevitable inconsistencies that have the potential to completely wreck their work.

Some people might have the ability to do that in their head without writing anything down, but I’m definitely not one of them. And because I also have no concept of consistency in what information I write down unless there’s a black-and-white, cut-and-dried outline that I can simply fill out, simply keeping a running document with notes on what I deem important about different characters isn’t the best solution.

The Solution

The answer to this dilemma? A character questionnaire, of course.

It’s a method that’s proved to be successful and efficient time and again when it comes to keeping track of my characters, and, luckily for us, there are countless examples and variations available for free online. Still, it can never hurt to have just one more, so I’ve provided one of my own personal compilations of questions below, along with an easy-to-fill-out worksheet you can use to keep track of your characters’ information.

This one is a fairly basic version that I generally use either for less important characters or when I’m first starting to develop my main characters. It’s not very detailed, but it’s useful when it comes to getting the basics hammered out, and I hope you’ll find it helpful!


Basic Character Questionnaire

General

Full Name:
Date of Birth:
Age:
Gender:
Sexuality:
Role in the story:

Appearance

Height and weight:
Build/Body type:
Hair color and style:
Eye color:
Skin/Complexion:
Race/Ethnicity:
Scars, birthmarks, tattoos, etc.:
Typical clothes:

Personality

General attitude:
Outlook (i.e. optimist/pessimist):
Social nature (i.e. introvert/extrovert):
Strengths:
Weaknesses:

Relationships

Parents:
Siblings:
Extended family:
Pets:
Best friend(s):
Other friends:
Romantic partners (past and present):
Allies:
Enemies:

Background

Childhood home:
Socioeconomic background:
Familial history:
Important memories/events:

Current Life

Home:
Education level:
Jobs (past and present):
Current socioeconomic status:
Hobbies:
Talents:
Habits (good and bad):
Health:

Beliefs & Values

Religious beliefs:
Values and morals:
Political views:
Social beliefs:

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1 comment

Kimberly September 18, 2020 - 2:13 am

This worksheet is awesome – thanks for including it!

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