Things You Need To Know About Creating A Character Reference Sheet 

by CJ McDaniel // January 18  

Are you a creative writer, scriptwriter, or planning to write sometime in the future? Then, this article would be beneficial to you. There is a tool that helps writers, especially creative writers, when creating stories, scenes, and anything that includes characters. It’s called a Character Reference Sheet.

After reading this article, you would understand important details about character reference sheet. So, are you ready? Let’s dive into it.

What Is A Character Reference Sheet?

A Character Reference Sheet is a material that allows you to explore the different dimensions of the character you are trying to create. It contains the details of the character. It is the tool that guides you as you create your story.

Is A Character Reference Sheet Like A Bio?

No! A Character is not like a bio. Rather, it focuses on the character’s visual design and only uses minimal text to describe the character. The mere fact that a Character Reference Sheet also uses text does not make it a bio.

Why Do I Need A Character Reference Sheet?

It goes by the name Character Reference Sheet for a reason. It is the tool that helps you to quickly refer to the details of the characters you have created. With this tool, you can be consistent with the character’s information.

When you are writing a story or creating a movie with many characters, it could be challenging to have a clear-cut idea about each character’s details and personality. The Character Reference Sheet helps you with that. It lists out all the characters and their corresponding details.

You don’t have to get confused anymore. You also don’t have to lose sight of the characters you’re creating. A quick reference to the Character Reference Sheet will keep you in touch with each character’s uniqueness and how they fit into the bigger picture.

How Do You Make A Character Reference Sheet?

You can easily find templates of a Character Reference Sheet. These templates exist so that you can fill them out. However, you might also want to create a Character Reference Sheet for yourself. When you create it yourself, you can always customize it to suit your needs.

The first thing to do is to create a sketch of your character. You would have to think thoroughly about each character before you can put it down. You should be able to tell who your character is, what environment does your character lives in? What’s the gender of your character?

You could also determine for yourself the physical and behavioral attributes of your character. What does the character look like? What are the character’s traits and attributes? Who are the people surrounding this character?

This sketch could be in writing or a drawing. The graphic details will help you to picture the character better. Keep exploring the details of the character as you think about it.

Another thing would be to look at the character’s journey through your story. When does the character enter the scene? What’s the character’s first appearance? How does this character progress through the story? How does the character relate to other characters in the story?

You don’t need to overwhelm yourself with elaborate details of the character from the outset. You can start with the basic information about the character. Then you can later develop it into a more elaborate piece.

The further you go, the more questions you can ask yourself about the character. Here you can begin to think critically and deeper about the character and how each part of the story makes them evolve.

In creating your Character Reference Sheet, you can also work with a variety of existing templates. All you have to do is pick out the relevant questions that fit into the character you are trying to create. Different templates will present you with different questions and perspectives that will help make yours richer and comprehensive.

Another reason you can work with templates is that they will save you time and effort. When using these templates, you wouldn’t have to spend so much time coming up with these questions yourself. The bulk of the time will go into answering the questions as you fully develop the character.

What Do You Include In A Character Reference Sheet?

There are some things you should bear in mind when creating a Character Reference Sheet. These things range from the basics to the more substantial aspect of the Character Reference Sheet. Ultimately, it is these things that will form the core of your character as the story progresses.

Basic information about the character: 

The name of the character is a fundamental part of the character. It is what will embody the other characteristics and identities of the character throughout the story. A Character Reference Sheet should include the name, age, gender, and occupation of the character.

What is the marital status of the character? What does he or she do for a living? Does he or she have children or family?

Visual Image of the Character: 

The Character Reference Sheet’s essence is to visualize the character and make it more real. So, a pictorial sketch of the character serves that purpose. Ideally, the character’s sketch should be a full image and shows all the part of the character. You can sketch on paper, or you can do it on your computer.

Colour Palate: 

Adding colours to your sketch is the easy part. However, this can take up your time.

Physical description: 

Asides from the sketch of your character, a brief description of the character’s physical qualities will make it obvious at a glance. The description does not have to be wordy. Keep it as brief as possible.

Behavioural trait: 

The Character Reference Sheet needs to be clear about the personality of your character. What makes your character unique? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your character?

What do they like doing? How do they react to occurrences in the story? What’s their temperament? What do they like or dislike? Is the character an introvert or an extrovert?

What is the motivating factor for the character? What makes them tick? What are their needs? Why do they want what they want? What are their goals? It is the unique personality that defines them that will come to mind when reading the story or watching the movie.

Why Is Developing A Character Important?

Characters are so important in any story or movie. In any story, you cannot have a great story without characters. Plots don’t exist in a vacuum. They revolve around characters. It is these characters that give life to the story or movie.

Developing your character

Any average viewer or viewer will not appreciate your work if there are no strong characters to give life to it. In every story, we have the main characters and the secondary characters. The characters that you develop must be relatable.

A story becomes much more real when the readers or viewers can relate to it. In the story, they should be able to connect with the attributes and actions of the characters. It should be things that either happens in their lives or around them.

The main characters in a story are the ones that the story is cantered on. The secondary characters exist to support the main characters and make them more relatable. Whether the main characters or secondary characters, they all work together to make a great story.

Other Tips On Developing A Character

Developing a character for your story or movie seems like a lot of work, right? Here are some tips that will help you develop better characters.

Before all things, you must determine the role that your characters are going to play in your story. Are they going to be a protagonist or an antagonist? This is important because every character in a story is there for a purpose. So the character must have a clear narrative purpose in the story.

Do not create success and hand it over to your character without obstacles and struggles. Set up obstacles between them and what they seek to achieve. When there are external and internal conflicts for the character, it makes the story much more interesting.

An internal conflict could make the character unsure of big decisions, doubt or question themselves and their abilities. On the other hand, an external conflict would be conflicts that the character has with the people around him, his immediate environment. It could also be when the character finds his or herself in an unpleasant situation and has to get out of it.

It is also important that you tap into your experience and personal experiences as you develop a character. You have to put yourself into the character and play it out as if you were the person in the story.


To create a great character throughout the story requires that you define and develop your character from the beginning of the story. Think through the entire story from start to finish about who each character would be.

It is these details that will form the basis of your Character Reference Sheet. After you’ve created a Character Reference Sheet, it would be easier to develop the rest of the story and the dialogue between them. The reason is that characters speak according to who they are, their behavioural traits, temperaments, personalities, etc.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!