Before writing a story, one of the most important elements to have in mind is characterization. This is basically a detailed explanation of characters in a story. In involves humanizing them and concocting a story so good, they appear real. To achieve this, many writers use a character dossier.

A character dossier organizes one’s thoughts about a character and aids in keeping in track of its habits, thoughts and the relationships they come across along the way. They help add meat to a character’s skeleton in order to bring out a character as real and believable as possible.

Character profiles are especially helpful for novels which involve several main characters and for stories which use multiple points of view. The best thing about character profiles is that they can be modified. For, example, if at the beginning of your story, a character was introverted, it can be modified as the plot progresses. She might become ferocious as a result of experiences or meeting someone who brings her out of her shell. In character development, nothing is set in stone. Remember that as a writer, it is your job to actualize the character.

What’s in a character dossier?

When coming up with a character dossier, here are some basic questions you might want to ask yourself.

Basic information

What is your characters’ name? When and where was he/she born? What is their physical appearance? Are they big bodied, small, thin, short?


Do they have parents and siblings? Any pets? Do they get along or they are estranged? Are they rich, poor or come from a middle-class family?


What schools did they go to? Maybe they were in prison? What are their hobbies? What major life decisions have they made?

Physical look

How do they wear their hair or makeup? Do they paint their nails or not? Do they have any scar, tattoos or piercing?


What are your character’s deepest secrets? What do they stand for? What are their core values? Do they have deepest desires, best /worst memories? What do they fear most or love most? What do they struggle with?


Is he/she loud or soft-spoken? Do they have a stutter? How about an accent?


Are they leaders or followers? What temperament do they have? Are they honest or sneaky, good or evil?


What special skills do they have? Do they have talents? Specialities? What is their education level?

There are people who have been writing for a long time. When they start writing, these character traits come easily to them. For a beginner, having a roadmap to guide you ensures you stick to what you had earlier envisioned. Once you are done developing your characters, be sure to read some literary devices you can use in your writing.

Happy writing!

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