top of page
  • Writer's pictureStuart Wakefield

70+ Character Development Questions You Need the Answers To


We all know how important it is to create believable characters in the stories we tell, but creating characters isn't always easy. To make sure that your characters are as three-dimensional and interesting as possible, you need to have answers to a lot of questions about them. At least seventy, if not more.


You might be feeling overwhelmed right now, but take a deep breath and don’t worry – this doesn’t have to be a stressful process. We’re aiming to make this activity fun, lighthearted and inspirational! After all, the more questions you have answered before you start writing, the better your characters will be.


The questions I'll be covering in this blog post were ones I used as an actor for creating characters for the stage, and they're designed to explore your main characters in more depth, helping you to create characters with their own unique personality traits and backstories. Once you’ve got all of your answers, you’ll be in a much better position to start writing about them.


When answering the questions, don’t be afraid to be creative, and you don’t need to answer them in a specific order. This process is all about developing your own unique story and the people who inhabit it, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box.


Let’s take a look at the questions about your main characters that you need to answer.


“Vital Statistics”

  • What is their gender and age?

  • What is their weight, height, build, colour of hair, eyes, and skin?

  • Are they right or left-handed?

  • Do they have any facial expressions, a squint, or any disabilities like a limp or missing finger?

  • Do they wear spectacles or contact lenses?

  • How do they walk or move? Do they have any mannerisms or habits?

  • Do they smoke?

  • What are their attitudes towards each of these?

Personality

  • How do they speak? What do they sound like? What pitch and speed is their voice? Do they have any favourite sayings or words? Do they use slang? Or swear?

  • What is their sexuality and their attitude towards it? How important is it? Do they have any hangups? What are their attitudes towards someone else's sexuality?

  • Are they a cool or are they a geek? Are their relationships fiery and passionate or calm and carefully controlled? Do they have a nasty temper? Are they charming? Do they control their emotional life, or does it control them? How do they express tension, or do they internalise stress? How do they express pleasure?

  • What do they most like and dislike about themselves? What aspects of themselves do they praise, deny, or want to change?

  • Do they run their own life? Or are they usually obeying other people, or doing things to please or take care of others?

  • What is their favourite colour? What is their star sign and birthstone? Do they even believe in astrology? Are they religious or spiritual? If so, what are their beliefs and practices? What are their moral beliefs and code of ethics? Do they have a phobia… or phobias?

  • What do they want from life? What are their goals in the short, medium and long term? What do they really want from life? And when they die, how do they want to be buried: 6-feet under or cremated? Do they want their ashes scattered anywhere specific? Do they want any particular music played at their funeral? Have they thought about death at all? Does death bother them?

Living Arrangements

  • What is their nationality? Do they live in their country of origin? If not, why not? How do they feel about this?

  • Where do they live? Do they own their own home? How much does it cost? How is it furnished? Are they domesticated, tidy or messy?

  • Do they live alone or with other people?

Relationship With Self

  • When they are at home for an evening alone, are they happy with their own company? Do they read books, magazines, newspapers, the back of cornflakes packets?

  • What music do they play to themselves?

  • What do they eat?

  • Can they relax? Do they knit, sew, write letters, watch television, revise their notes from an evening class? What are their hobbies, if any? Are they quirky? Are they a collector? What do their hobbies, music and books tell us about them?

Relationships With Others

  • Do they have a partner, or one or several lovers? Are they celibate? married? Do they have dependent relatives, flatmates, or pets?

  • Do they have children? What is their relationship to them? What kind of children are they?

  • Are there parents living? Do they like them?

  • Do people like them? Do others do what they want? Do others admire or respect them?

  • If they're working, what are the power relationships in their work with co-workers, boss, or employees?

Lifestyle

  • Are they successful in material terms? Do they have a good job with enough money? Are they worried about their finances? Are they financially independent? Do they like their job (if they have one)? If not, what would they rather do?

  • Were their family rich, poor, struggling to keep up appearances? What if they inherited from them, both physically and psychologically?

  • What kind of education did they have? Was it a military background? What were they expected to do with their life?

Story Role

  • What is their relationship to the other main characters in the story? Who or what is trying to prevent them from achieving their goal or goals?

  • Do you like them? Do you respect them? How do you want the audience to feel about them?

  • Within the story, what is their goal or dramatic need? What are they trying to achieve, gain or change during the story?

  • At the end of the story, what is their development? How have they changed? What have they learned, about things or other people, themselves?

Now take your character through a typical day in their life. What time do they wake up in the morning? How do they wake up? With vigour, or do they lie there waiting to muster the energy? Maybe with a cigarette? How do they smoke it? What will they do next?


And so on.

Finally, describe your character’s day up until their first appearance in the story.


Final Thoughts

Remember, when creating your characters, be sure to use the answers to these questions to give them depth and make them believable and memorable. There’s no right or wrong answer, and, like I said, feel free to get creative. After all, you're a writer.


Now that you’ve got all of the questions you need answered about your main characters, all that’s left to do is create a create a story with a point and a purpose that has momentum and meaning. If you need help with that, check out my Story Development service or check out the rest of the blog for more character creation posts.

96 views

Comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page