UPDATE: VERSION 4 available here. Versions 3.2 and earlier have been discontinued due to compatibility issues with Microsoft Word 2013 and newer.
To write a great novel, a writer needs to create memorable, three-dimensional characters. As you go through the writing process and you start coming up with characters, you might soon find yourself needing one place to put information about them. That’s why I created a dossier template in Microsoft Word. I fleshed out my characters so well that even I, their creator, might have trouble remembering all there is to know about them. What if I write a scene where Jane Doe drives a Hyundai, and then later on I write her driving a Mustang? My fictional character dossier solves that. There’s software out there that can take care of this stuff (like yWriter), but it’s not as good.When I found that I needed one place to keep all the information about each of my characters, I turned to the Internet. I did find a bunch of profile templates. However, most of them were meant to be printed out and filled by hand. Others were good candidates, but not what I was looking for. A few more were geared towards a particular genre of fiction (I don’t write sci-fi, at least not yet). One of the templates I found was so extensive it could take an outrageous amount of time per character to fill! That’s when I set out to create my own dossier template. It was designed to be comprehensive yet concise, easy to fill, and both genre- and gender-neutral–there aren’t separate versions for male and female characters. I’ve been developing this template for the past three years, and IMHO it’s become one of the best of its kind available online.
As I am very tech-savvy, I took the liberty to take advantage of technology to enhance the document. Microsoft Word allowed me to add entries such as a floating calendar, and list boxes with choice options. For instance, the Eyes entry has choices for every known natural eye color. Of course, these features made my dossier template not very suitable to be printed out blank, but who needs to print these things nowadays? Flash drives are affordable to practically anyone. And there’s cloud storage as well.
The latest version of the dossier template is 3.2. Among other small changes, I increased the available page space, made the font bigger, and deleted some unnecessary entries to make the dossier faster to fill out (note that you don’t need to completely fill the whole dossier). The psychological scale has been integrated into the renamed Personality & Views section to save space. Also, the dossier is now available in Spanish, as well as English. Version 3.2 is the last extensive update I’m making to the dossier template. As it’s not software that I’m writing, there’s no easy way to make new versions “backward-compatible”. I don’t want writers to have to make brand-new dossiers for their characters every time I release a version of the template. Any changes in the future, if any, will be very minimal (they’ll only involve copying an entry from the new version and pasting it into the old version).
You can download the dossier template here (English version) and here (Spanish version) (CURRENTLY DISCONTINUED ). This document is completely free. If you have paid for it, you’ve been scammed and must contact me immediately.
I hope you all like this template. And writers, I hope that you can create awesome characters with it.
NOTE: Yes, you do need to have Microsoft Word 2007 or later to use this document. As a writer, I’m very busy. That’s why my priority is to focus on the most widely-used word processor. There was an OpenOffice Writer version of the dossier, but I can no longer spare the time to keep updating that one. It’s also very difficult to port the dossier template to other word processors, as Microsoft Word has features that others don’t have. Word runs everywhere these days, even the iPad. As I do not own an Apple device, I do not know whether the dossier template works on the Word versions for iPad or Mac OS X, but most likely it does. Please give me a shout if it does work.