So, I was looking through this book titled "Writing and Selling your Mystery Novel - How to knock 'em dead with style" by Hallie Ephron. In it, there was a bunch of questions to ask yourself about your characters and so forth, in the form of. . . well, forms. She called them character blueprints. Whether the book or story you're writing is a mystery or not, these questions could be useful.
So, here they are! :D my comment and explanations will be in bold.
Warning: Some content is creepy/dark/violent. If you think you will be offended, stop reading now. If you keep reading and discover that you are indeed offended, you can't say I didn't warn you.
The Premise: Suppose and What if. . . (the basic idea of your story. The example from the book was: Suppose a troubled young man writes violent, explicit sexual fantasies into his personal journal and shares his journal with his therapist [with a problem like that, he'd need a therapist!!]. And what if a series of violent crimes then occur that closely mirror the details of his fantasies. . . I'm sorry, I know that example was severely creepy, but it's the one she gave!)
Your Protaganist (the good guy):
-Name: What do you want it to convey? e.g. strength, vulnerability, age, ethnicity, social class, occupation
-Reason for getting mixed up in investigating crimes?
-Physical Appearance: gender? age? build? most striking feature? hair color, and is it natural? hairstyle? wears what to work? wears what to a formal affair? wears what to bed? facial hair? tattoos? body piercings? scars? ethnicity, and by what physical features could people guess? mannerisms, gestures? health problems? what actor or actress would you cast in the role?
-Present Status and Ambitions (where they are now, and where they want to be): proffession/job? income level? current residence? marital status? reputation? romantic attatchments? children? pets? lifetime achievements?
-Background: birth order? parents (occupation, education, income)? siblings? hometown? grew up in. . .(apartment, ranch house, mansion, etc)? education? always wanted to be what? lost virginity when/how/if? past trauma, formative event? keepsake from the past and what it represents?
-Talents and Skills: most obvious skill? hidden skill? most obvious weakness? hidden weakness? talent? hates doing what?
-Personality Traits: frightened by what? angered by what? finds what kinds of things funny? hates to be kidded about what? finds what attractive in others? finds what annoying in others? has what capacity for physical violence? has what capacity for intimacy? looks up to which heroes and role models? has what nervous tics and obssessive behaviour? uses what, if any swear words when annoyed, angry, or outraged?
-Under Duress: (What would your slueth do if he/she. . .) gets a bad haircut? is enjoying a steak dinner when the woman at the next table lights up a cigar? gets shortchanged at the supermarket? discovers condoms in the purse/pocket of his/her significant other (ew!)? hits a dog while driving, hurrying to the airport to catch a plane? gets propositioned by a beautiful woman/handsome man (idk exactly what that means, but I have a pretty good idea. . .)? breaks down at 2a.m. on a deserted road? finds a diamond ring on a park bench? discovers that a best friend has been embezzling funds from a charity? discovers that his/her brother is a child molester (*shiver*)?
-Tastes and Preferences: favorite place to eat out? eats what for dinner alone on a weeknight? usually orders what at a bar? what book or magazine is usually on the bedside table? listens to what music in the car? favorite thing to do on a quiet Saturday afternoon? favorite thing to do on a Saturday night? ideal vacation? favorite place to hang out? has a weakness for what? collects what? political affiliation? activist for what cause?
-On a Scale of 1 to 10 (first option at 1, second option at 10), is your hero cautious or implusive? aloof of gregarious? analytical or emotional? anxious or easygoing? charming or abrasive? cocky or self-effacing? fastidious or sloppy? honest or deceitful? optimistic or pessimistic? lethargic or energetic? practical or dreamy? sensitive or thick-skinned? stubborn or accomidating? vain or modest?
Well, that's the end of my Protaganist Blueprint. Next, I will tackle victims, villins, and suspects! All of which take much less time than this one. ;)