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Character Bio Template for Writers: 200 Character Development Questions

Written by

Angelica Hartgers

https://selfpublishing.com/author/angelica-hartgers/

Published on

2019-07-08

Character Bio Template for Writers: 200 Character Development Questions

Think of a character bio template as a shortcut for developing realistic characters. It’s the key to creating believable characters that come alive through your writing.

Character templates include character development questions to help you shape your main characters as you write. 

By answering significant questions about your character, not only will you be able to understand a character inside and out, but you’ll also be able to show your readers how to understand your character. 

character development questions

Creating life-like characters goes beyond just plopping your character into the storyline, giving them a name, and describing a few traits. 

And it’s not just for fiction – but for non-fiction, too. Are you writing a memoir? A biography? A self-help book using “case studies” or examples of people in particular situations? 

You’ll want to fill out a character bio template for your main character if you’re writing one of these non-fiction books as well! 

Even if your character is modeled after a real person, that’s not enough to make him or her come alive for the reader. As an aspiring author, the first rule of thumb is to fully develop your character. You need to create an individual with a story of their own that readers want to engage and connect with as they read your book.  

Your character’s development should not be an after-thought – after all, you’re telling a story, and the story likely centers around the characters. Invest the time to answer these questions, and you’ll see just how real your character will become.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this character template: 

  1. The importance of character development 
  2. Why you should use a character bio template 
  3. How to use the character template 
  4. Character Bio: Basics
  5. Character Bio: Physical Appearance
  6. Character Bio: Personality
  7. Character Bio: Health
  8. Character Bio: Career
  9. Character Bio: Preferences
  10. Character Bio: Family Life
  11. Character Bio: Relationships
  12. Character Bio: Life Stages
  13. Character Bio: Perspectives
  14. Character Bio: Story Development
  15. Character Template Worksheet

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Why is character development important? 

Character development is important because the more developed a character is, the more realistic the character is – and readers want to invest in characters that are believable. 

Have you ever been so connected to a book or story that you were devastated when you finished reading it? You were sad to say goodbye to the characters. You wished you could open up the portal to that world forever. 

If you’ve experienced that, then you were emotionally invested in the characters and their lives. You connected with them – you felt like you truly knew them. And that’s because the writer did such a phenomenal job developing the character, that they seemed real to you as the reader.  

That’s exactly what you want to do with your own writing. You want to write characters that are so fully developed, the reader will become invested in their lives.

And the secret to fully developing characters lies in being able to answer detailed questions about your character, which is how this character bio template will help you. 

Why should you use a character template? 

Using a character template will help you create realistic characters that your readers will believe in, and connect with. 

You should develop a character bio to create believable characters for two reasons. 

First, by answering character development questions, you’ll know the character like the back of your hand, which helps you tell your story better. 

Second, the character template will help you create an actual individual by painting a comprehensive, detailed picture of who they are – from what they look like to their personality quirks to their biggest mistakes in life. 

How to use this character bio template 

Fill this template out fully for each of your main characters (protagonist and antagonist), and use the sheet as a reference for your writing. 

It’s best to complete the character template sheet once you have your story’s outline, but before you actually start writing your rough draft. If you’ve already started writing your rought draft, that’s okay – you can still use this template and it will be helpful as you edit and complete your draft. 

Don’t just share this character template directly with your reader – it is meant to be a complete guide for you as you write about who your character is, and how he or she affects the story.  

This character template serves as a skeleton for developing a realistic character, so you should be able to answer each question. You need to be able to answer everything about your character, but your reader only needs to know the details that help tell the story.

These character development questions are comprehensive, so this doesn’t mean you need to tell your reader everything about your character. Only give your reader what they need to know about your character as it pertains to your story.

If you’re writing a genre or story that requires more questions, feel free to add more as you see fit! For example, if you’re writing a sci-fi novel, maybe you need to answer more questions about your character’s species, or the special powers that they possess. 

As you write, you’ll want to have a copy of your completed character bio template nearby so it can be retrieved easily and referenced. This will help you tell your story more accurately, by avoiding little mistakes or inconsistencies in your plot and story setting

For example, let’s say you start the story with describing your character as a vegetarian, but later on have your character order a hamburger at a restaurant. This is a detail that many engaged readers will notice! 

Character Bio: Basics 

Begin by answering these basic questions about your character. These character development questions are the surface-level facts that you can use to start building your character.

These are the basic questions to answer for your character: 

  • Name: 
  • Nickname(s):
  • Name significance/meaning:
  • Gender:
  • Age: 
  • Birthday:
  • Deathday:
  • Star Sign/Astrology Sign/Zodiac Sign: 
  • Location: 
  • Birthplace:
  • Ethnicity:
  • Nationality:
  • Race:

Character Bio: Physical

Now, you can start building out your character’s physical appearance. These are external questions that will paint a physical description, so your reader can envision what your character looks like. 

The physical attributions for your character template are important because they will also help you write vivid descriptions and apply physical attributes to your character’s actions in your book.

These are the physical appearance questions for the character template: 

  • Physical Appearance:
  • Skin Tone:
  • Complexion: 
  • Eye Color:
  • Natural Hair Color:
  • Height:
  • Weight:
  • Body Type:
  • Build:
  • Posture:
  • Birthmarks:
  • Scars: 
  • Lefthanded/Righthanded/Ambidextrous:
  • Age Character Appears to Others: 
  • Dyed Hair Color: 
  • Usual Hairstyle: 
  • Tattoos: 
  • Piercings:
  • Makeup Style: 
  • Clothing Style: 
  • Clothing Size: 
  • Shoe Style:  
  • Shoe Size:
  • Nail Appearance: Painted/Natural/Manicured/Rugged/Fake
  • Eyebrow Shape: 
  • Features: 
  • Face Shape: 
  • Facial Hair: 
  • Voice: What does it sound like? 
  • Distinguishing Feature: What most people notice right away

Character Bio: Personality 

Now it’s time to start scratching beneath the surface to better understand the type of personality the character has. These character development questions focus on describing the personality traits within the character’s demeanor as they are in the present time of the story. 

For example, most people that are naturally introverts will always be introverts. But, maybe your introverted character has only recently developed a habit of talking to people on the subway as they commute to work every day.

These are the personality questions for the character template: 

  • Extrovert or Introvert:
  • Personality Traits: 
  • MBTI Personality: 
  • Optimist or Pessimist: 
  • Temperament: Are they generally hot-headed, or cool as a cucumber? 
  • Mood: What mood are they often in?
  • Attitude: What everyday attitude does your character have? 
  • Strengths: 
  • Flaws: 
  • Mannerisms: 
  • Habits: 
  • Morning Person or Night Owl: 
  • Pet Peeves: 
  • Favorite Sin: Which of the 7 deadly sins does the character do often?  
  • Favorite Virtue:  Which virtue does the character possess most? 
  • Weakness: 
  • Strengths: 
  • Expressiveness: 
  • Ruled by Heart or Mind: 
  • Mindset: 
  • Philosophy: 
  • Motivated by:
  • Everyday Speech: Words or phrases the character often says
  • Life Motto: 

Character Bio: Health 

This section is all about your character’s health. It covers everything from mental and physical health, to major surgeries, to allergies. If certain questions don’t pertain to your character, feel free to skip them. 

These are the health questions for the character template: 

  • Energy Level: Is your character more active, or sluggish generally? 
  • Memory Level: Does your character often forget people’s names, or do they have a photographic memory? 
  • Disabilities: 
  • Phobias: 
  • Addictions: 
  • General aptitude: Are they fast learners? Do they have poor problem solving skills? 
  • Mental Strengths: Is your character mentally tough
  • Mental Weakness: In what aspects is your character mentally weak
  • Physical Strengths: 
  • Physical Weakness:
  • Past Illnesses: 
  • Major Surgeries: 
  • Accidents:
  • Stability:
  • Allergies:

Character Bio: Career

Now it’s time to cover what your character does for a living – or how they spend the majority of their time. Is your character making a living doing a job they hate, but attending night school to get their dream job? 

A person’s choice of career, or their type of dream job, says a lot about that person’s qualities and interests. 

These are the career questions for the character template: 

  • Job Title: 
  • Company: 
  • Career Type: 
  • Education: 
  • College: 
  • Work Ethic: 
  • Job History: 
  • Income: 
  • Political Party/Organizations: 
  • Volunteer Work: 
  • Dream job:
  • What job would s/he do poorly at: 
  • Career satisfaction:

Character Bio: Preferences

Everyone has their likes and dislikes, from books to activities to the time of day. By answering all of these questions about your character, you’ll be able to build up a person that’s realistic and believable. 

These are the personal preferences questions for the character template: 

  • Diet: 
  • Favorite Foods: 
  • Favorite Drinks:
  • Favorite Movie: 
  • Favorite Music:
  • Favorite Book: 
  • Favorite Place: 
  • Favorite activities: 
  • Favorite time of day: 
  • What makes them happy? 
  • What makes them sad? 
  • Hobbies:
  • Interests:
  • Favorite animal:
  • Loves to do: 
  • Hates to do:
  • Inspired by: 

Character Bio: Family Life

Let’s face it – family, or lack thereof, shapes a person. The same is true about your character. 

This section is all about your character’s family life, from their parents to extended family, and even pets. 

By knowing the family your character came from, you’ll also learn a lot about your character and why they are the way they are. 

These are the family life questions for the character template: 

  • Raised by:
  • Parent Status: 
  • Mother’s Name: 
  • Mother’s Age: 
  • Mother’s Background:
  • Father’s Name:
  • Father’s Age:
  • Father’s Background:
  • Relationship with Mother:
  • Relationship with Father: 
  • Parenting Type: 
  • Only Child? 
  • First Born, Middle Child, or Youngest? 
  • # of Siblings: 
  • Relationship with Siblings: Do they have any sibling rivalries, or are they best friends with a particular sibling? 
  • Extended Family: Insert any details about aunts/uncles, grandparents, or cousins here. 
  • Family Relations: Are they generally close-knit or distant? 
  • How has family life shaped the character? 
  • What they like most about their family:
  • What they dislike most about their family: 
  • Children: Do they have kids of their own, or do they want them in the future?
  • Pets:

Character Bio: Relationships

In this section, you’ll be answering all the questions that have to do with your character’s relationships – from friends to lovers to enemies. 

These are the relationship questions for the character template: 

  • Best Friend(s):
  • Worst Enemy:
  • Many acquaintances or few close friends?
  • Sexual Preference:
  • Orientation: 
  • Relationship Status:
  • Marital Status: 
  • First Love: 
  • Current Love or Aspiring Love:
  • Notable Ex-Lovers: Are there any exes that influenced the character, either positively or negatively?
  • Top 3 Loved Ones: Who does your character love best in terms of their friends and relations? 
  • Top 3 Disliked Ones: Who does your character dislike in terms of enemies and acquaintances? 
  • Who knows the character best? Who is closest to your character? 

Character Bio: Life Stages

It’s time to cover your character’s life stages. If your character is an adult in your story, then you’ll want to fill out quick details on each question in this section. If your character hasn’t reached a certain stage yet, just skip that part. 

For each life stage, you can write a few sentences to describe the overall time period for the character. Don’t feel the need to list out every single thing that happened to your character in a certain life stage – unless you want to. 

These are the life stage questions for the character template: 

  • Childhood: What was their childhood generally like? Did anything significant happen? 
  • Adolescence: What were their teenage years like? Did anything significant happen? 
  • Young Adult: What were they like as a young adult? Did anything significant happen? 
  • Adult: 
  • Coming of Age: When did they really grow up and come into themselves? 
  • Moments/Experiences that shaped them: List any important experiences here.
  • How have they changed as a person throughout their life? Were they raised as a spoiled only child, but later became a Buddhist monk? 
  • Major regrets: List any major regrets the character has from their life.
  • Biggest life lessons learned: Did they learn not to take life for granted when their best friend died? 

Character Bio: Perspectives 

Next, we’ll go through the questions that will help show us how your character thinks about the world and perceives things. This is important because it helps shape your character’s mindset, especially if you are narrating the character’s inner thoughts, and dialogue. 

These are the perspective questions for the character template:

  • Religious Beliefs: 
  • Upbringing: 
  • Core Values: 
  • Morals: 
  • What does s/he believe is evil? 
  • What does s/he believe is good?
  • Risks Worth Taking: What would your character risk their life for? 

Character Bio: Story Development

Now it’s time to answer all of the questions that have more to do with your character’s thoughts, actions, and role within your storyline. 

You need to know what’s driving your character in the story, and what’s getting in their way. Answer each one of these questions as it relates to your story.

For example, when describing the character’s main goal, don’t answer it in terms of their entire life’s main goal – think of the main goal in terms of your story. Maybe your character’s main goal is to live without regrets. But how does that relate to your story? You need to make it more specific to your plot. Maybe your character’s main goal within the context of your story is to help hide persecuted children, even if it means death and dishonor.

These are the story development questions for the character template:

  • Important milestones: What important things will happen to the character in your story? 
  • Achievements: What will they achieve?
  • Failures: What will they fail at? 
  • Lifestyle: Describe your character’s lifestyle as it pertains to your story’s time period or setting.
  • Character Traits: List out traits your character possesses during your story. 
  • Culture: What culture do they identify with?
  • Main Goal:
  • Minor Goal: 
  • Desire: 
  • Biggest mistakes: 
  • Life lessons: 
  • Dream Life: 
  • Worst Nightmare: 
  • Favorite Memories: 
  • Least favorite memories:
  • Things they want in life: 
  • Things they don’t want in life: 
  • What obstacles are currently in their way?
  • Any secrets: 
  • Worldview: 
  • Personal Hero:  
  • Internal Conflict: 
  • External Conflict: 
  • What others think of them: 
  • What they think of themselves: 
  • What they wish they could change: 
  • What they wish they could have:
  • What gets them fired up: 
  • Their definition of a good life: 
  • Risks worth taking: 
  • Things they take for granted: 
  • What inspires them: 
  • What they have doubts about: 
  • What makes them feel alive: 
  • What makes them want to do better: 
  • What do they want to be remembered for?
  • How will the character change?

Now that you’ve quickly read through each section of the character template, your brainstorming wheels should be turning as you start to hone in on certain questions about your character that you hadn’t thought of before. 

Once you’re ready to start, you can use the blank template below to fill out for each one of your main characters. Remember – keep a copy of your character template sheets nearby for reference as you begin writing! 

Want to jumpstart your book writing process?

Join Chandler Bolt from self-publishingschool.com at his FREE Webinar Training as he reveals the exact tactics and strategies he used to write and publish 6 bestselling books in a row.

Click here to sign up today

Character Bio Template

character bio template

Here is the complete character bio template for you to use:


Name: 
Nickname(s):
Name significance/meaning:
Gender:
Age: 
Birthday:
Deathday:
Star Sign/Astrology Sign/Zodiac Sign: 
Location: 
Birthplace:
Ethnicity:
Nationality:
Race:
Physical Appearance:
Skin Tone:
Complexion: 
Eye Color:
Natural Hair Color:
Height:
Weight:
Body Type:
Build:
Posture:
Birthmarks:
Scars: 
Lefthanded/Righthanded/Ambidextrous:
Age Character Appears to Others: 
Dyed Hair Color: 
Usual Hairstyle: 
Tattoos: 
Piercings:
Makeup Style: 
Clothing Style: 
Clothing Size: 
Shoe Style:  
Shoe Size:
Nail Appearance:
Eyebrow Shape: 
Features: 
Face Shape: 
Facial Hair: 
Voice:
Distinguishing Feature:
Extrovert or Introvert:
Personality Traits: 
MBTI Personality: 
Optimist or Pessimist: 
Temperament:
Mood:
Attitude:
Strengths: 
Flaws: 
Mannerisms: 
Habits: 
Morning Person or Night Owl: 
Pet Peeves: 
Favorite Sin:
Favorite Virtue: 
Weakness: 
Strengths: 
Expressiveness: 
Ruled by Heart or Mind: 
Mindset: 
Philosophy: 
Motivated by:
Everyday Speech:
Life Motto: 
Energy Level:
Memory Level:
Disabilities: 
Phobias: 
Addictions: 
General aptitude:
Mental Strengths:
Mental Weakness:
Physical Strengths: 
Physical Weakness:
Past Illnesses: 
Major Surgeries: 
Accidents:
Stability:
Allergies:
Job Title: 
Company: 
Career Type: 
Education: 
College: 
Work Ethic: 
Job History: 
Income: 
Political Party/Organizations: 
Volunteer Work: 
Dream job:
What job would s/he do poorly at: 
Career satisfaction:
Diet: 
Favorite Foods: 
Favorite Drinks:
Favorite Movie: 
Favorite Music:
Favorite Book: 
Favorite Place: 
Favorite activities: 
Favorite time of day: 
What makes them happy? 
What makes them sad? 
Hobbies:
Interests:
Favorite animal:
Loves to do: 
Hates to do:
Inspired by: 
Raised by: (family)
Parent Status: 
Mother’s Name: 
Mother’s Age: 
Mother’s Background:
Father’s Name:
Father’s Age:
Father’s Background:
Relationship with Mother:
Relationship with Father: 
Parenting Type: 
Only Child? 
First Born, Middle Child, or Youngest? 
# of Siblings: 
Relationship with Siblings: 
Extended Family: 
Family Relations: 
How has family life shaped the character? 
What they like most about their family:
What they dislike most about their family: 
Children: 
Pets:
Best Friend(s):
Worst Enemy:
Many acquaintances or few close friends?
Sexual Preference:
Orientation: 
Relationship Status:
Marital Status: 
First Love: 
Current Love or Aspiring Love:
Notable Ex-Lovers: 
Top 3 Loved Ones: 
Top 3 Disliked Ones: 
Who knows the character best? 
Childhood:
Adolescence:
Young Adult:
Adult: 
Coming of Age: 
Moments/Experiences that shaped them: 
How have they changed as a person throughout their life? 
Major regrets: 
Biggest life lessons learned: 
Religious Beliefs: 
Upbringing: 
Core Values: 
Morals: 
What does s/he believe is evil? 
What does s/he believe is good?
Risks Worth Taking: 
Important milestones: 
Achievements: 
Failures: 
Lifestyle: 
Character Traits: 
Culture: 
Main Goal: 
Minor Goal: 
Desire: 
Biggest mistakes: 
Life lessons: 
Dream Life: 
Worst Nightmare: 
Favorite Memories: 
Least favorite memories:
Things they want in life: 
Things they don’t want in life: 
What obstacles are currently in their way?
Any secrets: 
Worldview: 
Personal Hero:  
Internal Conflict: 
External Conflict: 
What others think of them: 
What they think of themselves: 
What they wish they could change: 
What they wish they could have:
What gets them fired up: 
Their definition of a good life: 
Risks worth taking: 
Things they take for granted: 
What inspires them: 
What they have doubts about: 
What makes them feel alive: 
What makes them want to do better: 
What do they want to be remembered for?
How will the character change? 

So there you have it – your very own comprehensive character bio template. Remember, it doesn’t matter what genre you are writing about. Every book should have well-developed characters that come alive through using writing strategies, techniques, and devices.

At the heart of every story, is a believable character that readers are engaged with and connected to. To create that character, you want to make them as realistic as possible, and you can do that with the help of a character bio template. 

How are you creating life-like characters?

Angelica Hartgers

Content Creation Specialist at Selfpublishing.com
Angelica Hartgers is the Content Creation Specialist here at Selfpublishing.com. When she’s not cooking up content for the self publishing community, she loves to read good books, travel the world, and spend time with her family.
Angelica Hartgers