Character Development - Profile Template

Topic Tags:

An organized archive of roleplaying guides, including step-by-step, how-to, and general essays on theory.

Moderator: Scholars

Character Development - Profile Template

Postby Ylanne on Sun Nov 15, 2009 1:50 pm

The Character Profile

Ylanne Sorrows

This character profile template (with instructions and prompts throughout) is provided on the resources page of my writer's website, linked above. I have posted this character profile here to aid in character development. The purpose of using a character profile is to flesh out a character who is little more than a 'sketch', or who has not had much thought put into him or her. This profile was written primarily for literary purposes and not roleplay purposes; however, it is easily adapted for roleplay purposes, and has a roleplay counterpart (which you are able to find if you dig deeply enough into my posting history which is slightly altered.

If you wish to use this profile, or portions of it copied and pasted directly, as the standard skeleton in a roleplay of yours, please credit me as the profile creator with my name clearly visible. No one likes to see their work stolen. You may also download a copy in Word 2007 format from this page of my website which may be reproduced for personal or classroom use only. (It's on the bottom right hand side of the page).

Another note upon the use of character profiles: ninety-nine chances out of a hundred that your readers will never read or see, or need to see, your completed character 'profiles'. They may not know the vast majority of the information you will write and create about your characters. In fact, it is probably best if they do not. Nevertheless, the use of the profile as a resource for you as the writer cannot be understated. It is an aid for you when you have writer's block, and must wonder what the character would do, say, or think in any given situation or moment - as one's history and beliefs will always be a significant influence in one's decisions - or when something comes up where you need an answer from the character's point of view. It may also be best to fill out the profile as if you are the character himself. . . or as if you are some sort of investigator or psychiatrist called upon to complete a thorough dossier on the character, leaving no metaphorical stone unturned.

Without further ado, I here present the character profile which I myself have created and refined, with instructions and prompts throughout, over the past year and a half.

Role: For example, general role, or story-specific role. The former, things such as 'main character', 'main character's best friend', 'bad guy', 'mentor to protagonist', etc. might be used. The latter, things such as 'detective', 'older wizard', 'disgruntled ex-boyfriend', 'lieutenant', etc. may be used.

Full Name: The character's full, complete, and legal name.

Name at birth: Same thing, but only if it was different when the character was born, i.e. if s/he changed name because of marriage, adoption, religious conversion, or other reason.

Aliases/Nicknames (if any): Any aliases or nicknames that the character is addressed by, referred to as, or uses for whatever purpose on any regular basis.

Title(s): Any title, such as "Dr.", or "Master", or "Special Agent", or "Venerable" may here be reference and noted.

Preferred name: What name the character prefers to be addressed by. For example, foreign exchange student Yeonggwang goes by 'Paul', or Nicholas goes by 'Nicky'. It may also be that someone is referred to primarily by their surname, or by their complete, unabbreviated forename.

Age/Date of Birth: Both the character's age at the start of the story, or 'canon', as well as the complete date of birth with the appropriate calendar. In a realistic story, this would be using the Gregorian calendar (unless your character's religion or culture dictate use of the lunar calendar). In a non-realistic story, the calendar will depend on your universe.

Sex: Male or female.

Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity: How does the character identify his or her gender? What is his or her sexual orientation? This may be 'heterosexual', 'homosexual', 'transgender', or whatever pleases the character in question.

Race/Ethnicity: What is the character's race? This may be 'White/Caucasian' or 'Black/African-American' for example. It may also include nationality, or ethnic group. Hispanic or Latino status should be denoted here. If the character exists in a fantasy world and is not human, the appropriate race and/or sub-race should be listed.

Skin Tone: What is the character's skin tone? This may be 'dark brown', 'light brown', 'olive', 'pale', 'albino', or perhaps even some fantastical hue for a non-realistic character.

Height: The character's height, in the most accepted unit. This may be realistic, inches or centimeters, or may be specific to the universe or culture.

Weight: The character's weight, in the most accepted unit. This may be realistic, inches or centimeters, or may be specific to the universe or culture.

Build: What is the character's build? Slender, athletic, frail, sturdy, stocky, muscular, or plump may be some of the adjectives that come to mind.

Eyes: What is the character's eye color? Be specific without using purple prose. For instance, 'light brown', or 'hazel', or 'black', or 'pale blue' would be acceptable. If the character wears contacts that change the natural eye color, both colors should be noted and explained.

Hair: What is the character's hair color? Be specific without using purple prose. Also describe the texture, thickness, length, style, and any other significant attributes, such as whether it is oily or particularly shiny. If it is dyed, has highlights, or otherwise has unnatural alterations, those should be noted and explained.

Clothes Style: What style of clothes does the character wear? With very few exceptions (such as a story that takes place over one day, or in a prison or boarding school where students wear uniforms), your character will not be wearing the same outfit throughout the story. Does your character follow fashion trends? What materials, colors, and type of clothes does the character wear? Where does he or she obtain the clothes? Are they ethnic or traditional clothes? Is the character promiscuous or modest?

Tattoos, Piercings, Marks, Scars, etc.: Describe the location, size, and appearance of any tattoos, piercings, marks (such as moles or birthmarks), scars, or other notable or significant physical traits not already discussed.

Appearance: Describe the character's appearance without reiterating anything already said. Anything that has not been said in this category that should be noted will be described and explained here. A note - this is physical appearance only. Equipment and such will follow later.

Religion: Does the character have a religious affiliation or sense of spirituality? Has the character ever converted to or from a religious affiliation or sense of spirituality? Describe in detail the character's religious or spiritual beliefs or experiences.

Political Affiliation: What sort of politics does the character have? Has the character ever changed parties, affiliations, beliefs, or public platforms? Describe in detail the character's political platform and activities.

Education: How educated is the character? Is he or she literate? Does he or she have a secondary school diploma (or equivalent)? What about higher education? Is he or she still in school? Describe in detail the sort of education the character has, noting and explaining any degrees or academic honors or awards.

Languages spoken: What languages does the character speak, including his or her native language(s)? Specifically, what dialect of each language does he or she speak? When, how, and why did the character learn any secondary languages?

Weapons (if any): Does the character have any weapons or other sorts of equipment? What are they, how did he or she obtain them, and why does he or she keep them? Has the character ever lost or had confiscated any weapons or equipment? What were they, and why did this happen?

Occupation(s): What is the character's occupation? Does he or she have multiple concurrent occupations or jobs? When did he or she start? How high up on the ladder is the character?

Past Occupation(s): What past occupation(s) has the character had? Did he or she have multiple concurrent occupations or jobs? How long did each last, and when was the character employed? By whom? And how far did the character advance? Most importantly, why is the character no longer employed in these former positions.

Special Abilities/Skills: Does the character have any other special abilities or skills, whether highly desirable or not? Talents, learned skills, and such may all be listed here.

Activities/Organizations: What sorts of activities does the character engage in? What organizations is he or she actively supporting or participating in, and what organizations is the character loosely affiliated with? What sorts of activities and affiliations has the character had in the past and why are they no longer current?

Hobbies: What sorts of hobbies does the character engage in? Anything such as knitting, collecting money, or listening to music may be listed here.

Interests: Any other interests that the character has or has had, such as philosophy, economics, or weaponry.

Serious Problems/Flaws/Addictions/Disorders/Disabilities: What are the character's most significant problems or flaws? Does he or she have any addictions or bad habits? What about criminal history? Does the character have any disabilities or psychological disorders? If so, what are they, when and how did they onset, and when were they diagnosed? To what degree is the character affected, and what is being done about it? Most importantly, what is the character's attitude toward his or her flaws or disabilities?

Citizenship: In what nation or nations does the character have citizenship rights?

Place of Birth: Where, city and province or state, was the character born?

Now lives: Where does the character now live?

Lives with: With whom does the character live? This may be spouse, cohabitant, child(ren), roommate(s), pet(s), parent(s), sibling(s), etc.

Current Relationship Status: Is the character currently in a romantic relationship? With whom? When did it start? Is the relationship healthy or unhealthy?

Relationship History: What sorts of romantic relationships has the character had in the past? With whom? When did they start, how long did they last, and why and how did they end? Were they healthy or unhealthy?

Family: Who is in the character's family? Immediate? Siblings? Children? With whom is the character in contact? How are the relationships? Healthy or unhealthy? Why? Also, describe both the current family relationships and childhood relationships with family.

Other Biographical Remarks: Write the rest of the character's biographical information. Anything that was missed, or not expounded on already.

I hope this profile has been of some use to you. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact me, as I am always open to improvement and revision.

Revision: Latin; re- prefix, "back", "again"; visio nom. noun, "act of seeing", "sight"; from video, v, "to see". Revision - to see again.

Blessings and peace,

Ylanne Sorrows
#DisabilitySolidarity with Ferguson and Black and Brown Communities Impacted by Racist Police Violence Everywhere

Justice is for ALL, not "just us." Disability Justice and Queer & Trans Liberation will never be complete without Racial Justice.

Stunning letter from autistic survivor of electric shock torture in USA
User avatar
Member for 8 years

I think you kinda neglected the personality aspects. What is the character's approach on life? Are they cautious, devil-may-care, laid-back, over-analytic? How do they react to other people? Are they pleasant, friendly, sarcastic, hot-tempered, cold, overly helpful? How do they feel about themselves? Are they confident, complete, unhappy, unsatisfied, self-critical? And so on and so forth.
User avatar
Member for 7 years

Re: Character Development - Profile Template

Postby Ylanne on Sun Nov 15, 2009 5:23 pm

Dear Chfutzin,

Yes, it is very true! I did indeed neglect the personality aspects, and that was very intentional. I will add another post on developing personality in characters in a separate area of the forums. A brief word on personality:

I find that too often, especially in roleplay, when writers disclose personality, they tend to do one or more of the following (not necessarily, but fairly often):

1.) List attributes or words, which doesn't really mean anything.
2.) Follow a cliche archetype or stereotype, such as shy but kind, or mean on the outside, or emo cutter, without digging much deeper than the cardboard cutout.
3.) Contradict themselves by providing very contradictory aspects. . .
4.) Vague. Ambiguous. Generic. i.e. She's distant to people who don't know her, but very protective of her friends. What's that supposed to mean?

Therefore, I usually do not require personality in profiles in roleplays I write; I often refuse to write it in profiles for roleplays that I join. Nevertheless, personality is an incredibly important aspect of a character, and you are right to notice that it is not mentioned or included in this profile! If you like, I will personally send you a PM as soon as I have the post up explaining some of my ideas about personality and how to develop a unique, realistic, and dynamic one for the well-developed character.

Thanks for the feedback!

Blessings and peace,
User avatar
Member for 8 years

Ylanne, may I see those ideas as well? I'm guilty of making some bad stock characters in my RPs, so I think this can be very useful! Please?
The quality of my posts is inversely proportional to the number of role-plays I am currently in, which is 1.
User avatar
Member for 7 years

Re: Character Development - Profile Template

Postby Ylanne on Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:02 pm

Part Two of this coming soon to the Roleplay Academy. Apologies for the lengthy delay. It should be up within the next month, with any luck, perhaps sooner. Kindly let me know if there are any particular aspects of character development you would like to be addressed.
User avatar
Member for 8 years

Post a reply

RolePlayGateway is a site built by a couple roleplayers who wanted to give a little something back to the roleplay community. The site has no intention of earning any profit, and is paid for out of their own pockets.

If you appreciate what they do, feel free to donate your spare change to help feed them on the weekends. After selecting the amount you want to donate from the menu, you can continue by clicking on PayPal logo.