If you’ve hit a wall with your latest story, sometimes all you need is to get better acquainted with your characters. The more you know them, the more they talk to you.
The more you understand what your characters want and why, the more your writing will help the reader understand. And the harder it will be for them to put your book down.
This is why we’ve created this list of character development questions for writers. Answering them will bring your characters to life.
And when you hear their voices in your head, they can lead you down paths you hadn’t thought of before.
- Why do writers need a character questionnaire?
- 165 Character Development Questions
- Questions on Character’s Appearance
- Questions on Character’s Home
- Questions on Character’s Chosen Career
- Questions on Character’s Family
- Questions on Character’s Friends and Intimate Relationships
- Questions on Character’s Personality and Behavioral Traits
- Questions on Character’s Goals, Values, or Motivations
Why do writers need a character questionnaire?
A character questionnaire forces you to get well-enough acquainted with your characters to know how they’d react to everything you plan on throwing at them in the story.
Answering the questions in the list below will help you see your characters as three-dimensional people who could be good friends, indifferent acquaintances, or bitter enemies. And none of them have to stay that way.
What will your answers reveal to you about your main characters?
165 Character Development Questions
Welcome to Authority Pub’s comprehensive list of questions for character development. Get yourself a mug or glass of something good, and answer these for each of the characters your story depends on.
Questions on Character’s Appearance
1. What are your character’s physical traits? (skin color, hair color, eye color….)
2. What is their ethnic origin or ancestry?
3. What does your character typically wear? What is their personal style?
4. Do they care about fashion? Or do they just wear what they like?
5. Do they dress provocatively (according to some)?
6. How do they wear their hair?
7. Do they groom their eyebrows?
8. Do they struggle with acne?
9. Do they wear make-up?
10. Do they use hair styling products? What kind?
11. Do they wear glasses or contacts?
12. Would they wear a swimsuit in public? If yes, what kind?
13. What do they wear when they go to sleep (pajamas? regular clothes? nothing?)
14. What is noticeable about your character’s presence? (Confidence? Nervousness?)
15. Do they sit up or stand up straight? Or do they slouch?
16. How does your character walk? Run? Dance?
17. What body language is typical of your character?
18. Does your character have scars or birthmarks?
19. Does your character have any physical disabilities?
20. What actor would you want playing your character in a movie?
21. Does your character wear any jewelry? Favorite pieces?
22. Does your character have any tattoos? Do they want any?
23. What do they wear on their feet?
24. Do they like/wear hats?
25. Do they color their hair?
26. Do they have any piercings?
27. Do they carry a purse or messenger bag / backpack / briefcase?
28. Are they coordinated? How well do they catch things?
29. Are they graceful or clumsy? Do they have natural poise?
30. Would anyone describe them as beautiful? Cute? Hot? Classically handsome?
Questions on Character’s Home
1. House, apartment, duplex, etc.
2. Do they live in a city, a suburb, a rural area?
3. Describe your character’s neighborhood.
4. Do they have any favorite neighborhood haunts?
5. With whom does your character live?
6. How often does your character eat out or order in?
7. What’s in the fridge?
8. Do they have a favorite room?
9. Do they feel at home in the kitchen?
10. What’s the view from their window/s?
11. How does your character feel about their living situation?
12. Neighbors? Do they get along with them?
13. What items does the character keep close to their bed?
14. What do they sleep on?
15. Does your character have their own room?
16. What is their most prized possession, and where do they keep it?
17. Does your character like having people over?
18. How clean or tidy is your character’s home or private room?
19. Does your character have a pet? Or are there pets in the home?
20. Does your character want to live somewhere else?
21. What would your character’s dream home look like and where would it be?
Questions on Character’s Chosen Career
1. What job does your character have?
2. How did your character get the job they now have?
3. How do they feel about the job?
4. How do they get along with their boss and coworkers?
5. Does your character have authority over any of their coworkers?
6. Do they ever spend time with coworkers outside work hours?
7. Has your character ever been harassed by coworkers or by their boss?
8. Do they plan on staying there long-term, or are they looking for something else?
9. If they could go (back) to college, what would they study?
10. If they could earn a good living with any job, which would they choose?
11. What is your character’s highest level of education?
12. Does your character want to learn a new trade?
13. Does your character have a side gig that generates some income?
14. What are some skills or talents your character has?
Questions on Character’s Family
1. Does the character have a relationship with both parents?
2. To which parent does your character feel closest?
3. Does your character have relationships with any grandparents?
4. Do your character’s political or religious beliefs match those of their parents?
5. Do their parents support them financially in any way?
6. Do their parents accept them as they are?
7.How involved are their parents in their life?
8. Do they have siblings? If so, how many brothers and how many sisters?
9. If they have siblings, to which of them do they feel closest?
10. Is there someone in the family who is their #1 confidante?
11. Have they ever felt betrayed or abandoned by a family member?
12. How have their family relationships affected their ability to trust?
13. How have their parents disciplined them growing up (if they did)?
14. Can they count on family members to have their back?
15. What was their financial situation growing up?
16. What jobs do their parents have?
17. What is their family culture and what do they love most about it?
18. Have your character clashed with any of their parents’ beliefs?
19. What languages are spoken at home?
20. What is your character’s favorite comfort food — and who makes it best?
21. Is your character married or in a committed relationship?
22. Does your character have children of their own? By birth or adoption?
23. What other relatives does your character have? Any of them close?
24. How does your character feel about family functions or gatherings?
25. Has your character ever been embarrased of a family member — or vice-versa?
Questions on Character’s Friends and Intimate Relationships
1. Is your character straight? Gay? Bisexual? Pansexual? Transgender? Asexual? …
2. Has your character come out to anyone?
3. Does your character have a best friend? Who is it?
4. How does your character feel about dating?
5. How easily does your character make friends?
6. What do your character and their friends do together?
7. Has your character ever lost a friend to political or religious differences?
8. How does your character respond to political or religious differences?
9. Does your character see the best or the worst in others?
10. Does your character want to trust others and repair relationships?
11. Or is your character more likely to hold a grudge and see forgiveness as weakness?
12. How easy is it to make your character angry? What would it take?
13. Has a friend ever betrayed your character’s trust? Or vice-versa?
14. Has your character ever fallen for someone who was wrong for them?
15. What does your character expect from their closest relationship?
16. Have they found someone they’d want to commit to for life?
17. Is your character’s significant other (S.O.) someone their friends like, too?
18. Has your character ever had their heart broken?
19. Is your character someone their friends can count on to be there for them?
20. Do any of your character’s friends go to them for advice? Or vice-versa?
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Questions on Character’s Personality and Behavioral Traits
1. Is your character introverted or extroverted?
2. Do they have issues with hyperactivity or distractibility?
3. Is your character introspective or outward-focused?
4. Are they Intuitive or do they rely more on their senses?
5. Are they thinking-focused or feeling-focused?
6. What is their relationship with routines & rituals?
7. What is their relationship with the natural world?
8. What is their sociability quotient (SQ) — low, average, or high?
9. Are they generally compliant or rebellious?
10. Are they musical? Do they have a favorite musical instrument?
11. What does your character do to relax?
12. Does your character have any addictions?
13. What music do they listen to?
14. What books do they read?
15. What extracurricular activities appeal to your character?
16. How does your character respond to bullies?
17. How far will your character go to have someone’s back?
18. What TV or movie characters would your character most love to know?
19. Does your character have crushes? How do they act around their crushes?
20. How does your character display affection? Do they like PDA?
21. Does your character enjoy traveling — or want to travel?
22. Is your character an overachiever, an underachiever, or just an achiever?
23. How well does your character get along with authority figures?
24. How would they respond to a crisis?
25. Are they a leader, a follower, or neither?
26. Are they more likely to see the best in others or the worst?
27. Are they a good listener?
28. Would they ever spread a rumor about someone?
29. How would they respond to someone who betrayed their trust?
30. Is your character neurotypical or atypical?
31. Does your character struggle with depression or anxiety?
32. Do they struggle with a learning disability (ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia…)?
33. Do they struggle socially? If so, are they on the autism spectrum?
34. Is it a challenge for them to feel complete without a love interest?
35. Do they self-medicate (with legal or illegal drugs)?
36. Would they avoid or eagerly participate in religious or political discussions?
37. Is your character a dog person? Cat person? Do they want any kind of pet?
Questions on Character’s Goals, Values, or Motivations
1. What does the character want in the story?
2. What is standing in their way?
3. What are they willing to do to remove the obstacle/s?
4. What gets the character up in the morning?
5. Do they hit the snooze button or get right up at the first alarm?
6. What is their morning routine?
7. What is their nighttime routine?
8. What do they want to be or to do when they grow up?
9. What would they do if they won the lottery jackpot?
10. How do they generally respond to failure?
11. How does your character respond to stress?
12. Would your character create a vision board?
13. Do they journal?
14. Do they consciously plan their day? Or do they just take it as it comes?
15. Do they prefer writing things down or using an app?
16. Do they exercise regularly, or are they involved in sports?
17. Describe your character’s ideal love interest and/or ideal relationship status.
18. Do your character’s goals or desires ever get in the way of their relationships?
Did these character questions help you flesh out your characters?
Once you get through these character creation questions, you’ll have a better sense of who each character is and what they would do in a given situation.
And that makes it a lot easier to keep going when things get rough.
If you do get stuck, though, try journaling as one of your characters (voice journaling). When you vent their thoughts and feelings about the situation they’re in, you can also more clearly see how they would respond to it.
It’s easier just to make them do what you would do. But it’s not authentic.
Use these questions to invite your characters to come to life and lead the story where they want it to go.
And be prepared to learn something new about yourself, too. Because when you take a deeper look into your character’s personalities, you also gain insight into your own.