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ServiceScape Incorporated

Your Guide to Creating a Character Sketch (With a Free Template!)

The ability to create memorable characters is what separates mediocre writers from master storytellers. The books we read that we can't forget often include characters that appeal to us for their humanity (or lack thereof), and they come to life on the pages in ways that only a great writer can make happen.

So how do writers make such memorable, real-life characters? One way is to create intensive character sketches for each character of a story and writers vary in their approach to doing this. In this article, I'll discuss how to create a character sketch and provide a template for you to use (unless you'd rather create your own).


When determining the physical aspects of your character, it's important to keep in mind that you shouldn't stop with hair color, eye color and skin color. Sure…these are important aspects to help the reader visualize the character, but a character's overall physical appearance includes so much more. The more you consider in the character sketch, the easier it will be for your character to come to life on the page. With that in mind, consider these physical characteristics, as well.


  • What is the character's face shape (round, oval, heart-shaped, square)?
  • Does the character have freckles, sun spots, a birthmark, or scar on his or her face?
  • What is the color, texture, and length of the character's hair?
  • Does the character dye his or her hair?
  • Does the character have facial hair and if so, how long is it and what is its texture?


  • What color is the character's skin and does it have freckles, wrinkles, sun spots, or scars?
  • Does the character have tattoos? If so, what kind of art is it and where is it located?


  • What body type does the character have (lean, athletic, curvy, overweight)?
  • Does he or she slouch?
  • How tall is your character?
  • Where does your character carry most of his or her weight?
  • Is there a strange gait to his or her walk?


  • What type of clothing does the character like to wear for lounging/relaxing?
  • What type of clothing does the character like to wear for formal occasions?
  • What type of clothing does the character like to wear outdoors?
  • What type of shoes does the character tend to wear? Are they scuffed?
  • Does the character take pride in their appearance?
  • Are the character's clothes neatly pressed or wrinkled?
  • Are there any particular pieces of clothing or jewelry your character owns that has special meaning for him or her? If so, what pieces and why are they special?


If you've ever sat down to people watch—and let's face it, all writers should make this practice a part of their daily routine—then you've probably already noticed psychological aspects on a subconscious level. For example, when you see the girl walking beside a man busy looking at his phone, her face downcast and a frown turning her lips, your mind picks up on subconscious characterization and revelation. You can piece a story together of their relationship quite easily with this one glance, and although it may be wrong, you've used psychological techniques to create depth when encountering strangers. The same thing happens when you consider the psychological and subconscious actions of your character for a character sketch.

  • What is the character's overall outlook on life (optimistic, pessimistic, depressed)?
  • Does the character have anxiety, claustrophobia, insomnia, PTSD or depression?
  • Is your character introverted or extroverted?
  • Does your character have a good relationship with his or her mother?
  • Does your character have a good relationship with his or her father?
  • Does your character have a good relationship with his or her siblings?
  • Does your character have a significant other? If not, why?
  • Is your character an addict? If so, what is he or she addicted to?
  • What is the life mistake your character most regrets?
  • Does your character drink alcohol? If so, how much?
  • Does your character have healthy relationships with friends?


Think about how much your history has shaped you into the person you are today. In fact, it could be argued that every facet of who we are as humans stems from our history. In the same way, your character's history should shape him or her as a living, breathing entity that comes alive on the page. The more that history "fits" or makes sense to the reader, the more believable your story and characters are. For example, if your character suffered a childhood trauma and you want that character to be believable and "real," the reality is that he or she will demonstrate aspects of PTSD and/or have a negative relationship with the responsible parent. Thinking these details through helps you to connect all the dots of the character—physical, psychological, and historical—to create a compelling persona that feels real and alive to your reader.

  • What was your character's mother like?
  • What was your character's father like?
  • Does he or she have any siblings?
  • Where was your character born?
  • What were the circumstances of your character's birth?
  • What were the circumstances of your character's early childhood?
  • What were the circumstances of your character's preteen and adolescent years?
  • How did your character do in school? What were his or her favorite subjects and why?
  • When did your character first fall in love and with whom?
  • Has your character ever been in legal trouble?
  • Does your character have a history of addiction?

Try our free template

If you'd like to have your own template for this character sketch, we've got you covered. View it or download it and let us know what you think.

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