Ten Things to Help You with Your Characters
Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.
Addressido is meant for use as a portable virtual address book that fits on a memory stick, but writers can use it to keep track of character names, details and story appearances (OS:• Windows® 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista, Microsoft® .NET Framework 2.0 or higher -- note: on Windows® Vista™ the Microsoft® .NET Framework 3.0 is already included as part of the operating system.)
Martha Alderson's article Character-driven or Action-driven gives you a little test to see what sort of stories you prefer to write.
When I need a little character inspiration or just a good laugh, I head for Seventh Sanctum's always amazing page of online character generators.
Dynastree is a home geneaology freeware that could be useful to writers for creating character trees for series novels or books with large casts. If you think outside the box, a tree can be used for more than relatives (in vampire fiction, for example, you could create a sireline tree) (OS: Windows XP/Vista)
Eposic.org's online Persona Generator will give you the more nebulous aspects of personality for your characters.
Geni has an online customizable family tree generator with profile sheets and all sorts of bells and whistles including photos you can fill in and upload to flesh out your character. I made up one in a few minutes with some of the Kyn to give you the general idea (click image to see larger screenshot):
Rich Hamper's Character Profile Sheet
Outlines for Character-Based & Plot-Based Synopsis by Barbara Karmazin
Karen Lotter talks about the importance of profiling characters in her article Getting to Grips with Character ~
Profile your Characters; Work on Real Character Development
Virtual Project freeware is a web-based project organization program that could be used by writers to profile and manage characters as well as research for them throughout your story (OS: Win 9x/ME/NT/2K/XP/2K3)
Added: a reader sent me a link to a free service that brings together all of your notes and data no matter where they're stored (laptop, web, phone, Twitter, etc.) and keeps them in sync, on both Windows and Mac computers, which would be very helpful in keeping your character info up to date: Evernote.