Character Sketch Worksheet

character worksheet

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Hello, readers. I have pulled together a pretty thorough Character Sketch Worksheet from several sources on the Web and thought I would share it here with you. Copy, paste, and get to work on those characters!

Book Title:
Time Period:

Basic Character Sketch

Physical Appearance
Weight/Body Type
Distinguishing Features

Social and Socioeconomic Factors
Class (lower, middle, upper)
Status/Place in Community
Home Life/Lives with

Family History
Siblings (and ages)

Psychological/Personal Factors
Moral Standards
Life Philosophy
Disapointments (missed opportunities)
Personality strengths
Personality weaknesses
Overall personality/likeability

Character Objectives
Doesn’t Want
Desire (character’s overall #1 objective)
Will (ability to achieve desire: high or low?)

Other Character’s Perceptions
What do they think/say about this character?
How do they act toward this character?

Most Important Internal Conflict
One event that is evidence of this
Another event that is evidence
Most Important External Conflict
One event that is evidence of this
Another event that is evidence
How does character handle conflict? (Avoid? Meet head on?)

What goes on in character’s mind?
Do thoughts pop up again and again?

Do actions match words/feelings?

Does character say a lot? Why/why not?
Does character speak his/her mind?
What kind of language does character use?
Does character’s words agree with his/her thoughts/feelings?
Frequent words/catch phrases used by the character

Miscellaneous Questions

  1. What is a typical day for my character like?
  2. Who lives with my character and what is their relatlonship’?
  3. Who else heavily influences my character?
  4. Is my character very religious, political, or otherwise a member of some kind?
  5. What is the character’s biggest life goal?
  6.  How does the character’s motivation change from the beginning to the end?
  7. What is the primary emotion my character has throughout this story?
  8. What other emotions are affecting my character underneath this emotion?
  9. Does my character have mental or emotional difficulties, illnesses, or tics?
  10. What kind of self-esteem does my character have?
  11. How does my character relate to the outside world?
  12. What props or scenic elements does my character relate to?
  13. How do those props/scenic elements develop my character?
  14. What emotion should the audience feel toward my character? Sympathy, hate, friendly?
  15. In the beginning, what do we discover about my character?
  16. In the middle, how does my character grow and change?
  17. At the end, what will happen to my character?
  18. What is the most important element to my character: family, love, or career?
  19. How old is my character? What major historical events has (s)he lived through?
  20. Does my character have children? How does (s)he feel about them?
  21. Is my character manipulating or being manipulated by anyone?
  22. Does my character have a hidden agenda or a deep secret?
  23. Who is (s)he hiding this from? Another character? The audience?
  24. How strong are my character’s emotions in this piece? Pure hatred? Mild lust?
  25. What is my character’s greatest fear?
  26. What is my character’s grealest accomplishment?
  27. What is my character’s motivation in each scene? Does it coincide with or conflict with other character’s motivations in these scenes?
  28. Does my character have his/her wants achieved at the end?
  29. If not, will my character ever have those wants achieved?
  30. What person or fictional character does my character most remind me of?
  31. If I met my character, how would I react to him/her?

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Comments: 19

  1. Susan Lynn May 15, 2013 at 9:40 pm Reply

    That’s pretty comprehensive. Good ideas. How do you choose which questions to answer for each character? Obviously, (at least I think, obviously) you can’t answer every single question for every single character you create. Can you?

    • admin May 15, 2013 at 10:39 pm Reply

      Hi, Susan. I know I don’t plan to answer every question for every character in my book, no. Some questions don’t apply (for example, not much is mentioned about my characters’ families in the book), so no need to answer those ones, right? To me, this list is just a good starting place & every writer will know which questions they need to answer.

  2. Ben May 16, 2013 at 1:10 am Reply

    Wow, this is fantastic! I had pulled a character sketch out of Building Believable Characters from Writer’s Digest years ago, but this blows it away. Great job.

    Side question, would you or do you know of anyone that would be interested in an automated generator for essentially creating character templates? Meaning it would take the questions you have above and apply a random (appropriate) value to that question, filling in some of the blanks. This could serve as perhaps a launching point for developing a character.

    • admin May 16, 2013 at 8:44 am Reply

      Thanks! Maybe I should call it a Character Portrait rather than just a Sketch. 😉

      Your idea sounds interesting & could help prompt ideas for people who are stuck or having trouble getting started. I wonder, though, whether the random answers would fit together logically enough for it to really work? I think what might be of more use would be the ability to pull a random answer for any specific trait or question, rather than the whole shebang. That way, the author can start with his/her ideas and just get random suggestions where help is needed.

      Is this something you know how to build or are really thinking of doing? If so, please be aware that I did pull a lot of this material from various sources which haven’t been cited here (esp. the final list of questions), so you’d need to take care not to infringe on anyone else’s work. (When I made up this list, I only intended to use it myself, but then it looked so useful I decided to post it. I guess I should go back and find/list the sources I used.)

    • admin May 16, 2013 at 8:52 am Reply

      Ben, be sure to visit my Resources page for more helpful goodies like this:

  3. Christi-lynn June 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm Reply

    Great sketch guidelines, Karen… Thanks so much for sharing!! Am already on chapter 20 of my own book – but this will help a lot when I go back and proof/edit it. I’m off to check out your “resources” now… 😉

    • admin June 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm Reply

      Thanks for commenting, Christi-lynn. 🙂 Glad you find the list useful; I know it’s helped alot with my current book.

  4. Monique October 7, 2014 at 8:45 pm Reply

    That’s great Karen. Am going to use it to help with some NaNoWriMo prep.

    • admin October 8, 2014 at 2:39 pm Reply

      Awesome, Monique! I’ve been doing the same for NaNo. 🙂

  5. Julie Valerie @Julie_Valerie October 29, 2014 at 4:18 pm Reply

    I’m completely blown away by this character sketch worksheet. Just shared it on Fb and G+.
    Bravo! And thanks for linking this to the October Hump Day Blog Hop. Love this stuff. So incredibly helpful. Much appreciated, Karen!

    • admin October 29, 2014 at 6:06 pm Reply

      Thanks, Julie! I really need to add more of these resources to my blog. Everyone seems to love them! 🙂

  6. writerwithdogs October 29, 2014 at 5:35 pm Reply

    Saving this for future reference. Fantastic information and well needed at this end! Thanks Karen.

    • admin October 29, 2014 at 6:07 pm Reply

      Thanks, Barbara! Be sure to check out the tab at the top, too, which is Resources for Writers. LOTS more great stuff there! 🙂

  7. Winfield Ly October 30, 2014 at 1:43 am Reply

    Hi, thanks for sharing this template! I will probably use it 🙂 It is very comprehensive to try to describe characters. I saw you posted this on Facebook.

    • admin November 2, 2014 at 11:21 am Reply

      Thanks for the feedback & for letting me know where you saw it! 🙂 Be sure to check out my Resources for Writers tab at the top of this page, too. Lots of great stuff there.

  8. sandiedocker October 30, 2014 at 8:15 am Reply

    That IS comprehensive. I particularly like question 31.

    • admin November 2, 2014 at 11:22 am Reply

      Sandie, yeah right? It’s a thought-provoking question, to be sure. I’m still not sure of the answer to it for the latest character I’m working on…

  9. Elizabeth Hein October 30, 2014 at 9:48 pm Reply

    This is a wonderful character sketch sheet. Taking some time to explore your characters before the drafting phase of a book can end up saving tons of time in the editing phase.

    • admin November 2, 2014 at 11:23 am Reply

      Hi, Elizabeth. It sure can! I’ve got way more prep notes this time around than I did for my first book…but even then, I used these worksheets in order to keep my characters consistent.

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