Writing Tips: 23 Questions For Character Building

Character building is more than just appearances. Here are a list of 23 questions to ask for every character you’re writing — for any genre. As well as some examples to help get your thought process flowing.

1. What Is Their Earliest Memory?

  • with family
  • with friends
  • with pets
  • with favorite toys

2. What Are Their Greatest Fears?

  • dying
  • failure
  • losing loved ones
  • spiders
  • helicopters

3. What Nervous Ticks Do They Have?

  • runs hand through hair
  • picks skin around nails
  • stutters
  • blinks too much

4. What Was Their Homelife Like?

  • divorced parents
  • no parents
  • parents were good
  • lived with someone else
  • lived with friends
  • good homelife or bad homelife

5. What Do They Smell Like?

  • perfume/cologne
  • outdoors
  • stinky
  • baked goods
  • campfire
  • spices

6. What Do They Keep In Their Pocket/Bags And Why?

  • family heirlooms
  • trinket
  • trash
  • receipts
  • writing utensil
  • small pet

7. What Kind Of Clothes Do They Wear?

  • latest fashion
  • rugged, torn, worn
  • second hand from family member
  • hipster
  • minimalist
  • color palette (earth tones, black, rainbow)
  • Patterns (stripes, plain, plaid, polka dots)

8. What Was Their Childhood Like?

  • good/bad in school
  • friends/friendless
  • explorer/homebody
  • deaths in family
  • always getting into trouble

9. What Sleeping Habits Do They Have?

  • never sleeps
  • sleeps in every day
  • has to sleep in a nice bed
  • can’t sleep with pillows
  • snores

10. What Biases Do They Hold Against People/Animals/Government?

  • traumatic experiences
  • prejudices
  • racial thoughts
  • painful memories
  • hateful feelings

11. What Is Their Myers Briggs Acronym?

  • Pretend you’re the character and take the test at this site
  • introvert/extrovert (focusing attention)
  • sensing/intuition (taking in information)
  • thinking/feeling (making decisions)
  • judging/perceiving (dealing with the world)

12. How Do They Feel About Money?

  • giver
  • saver
  • spender
  • stingy

13. What Is Their Biggest Flaw?

  • racist
  • hurtful
  • aggressive
  • aloof
  • forgetful
  • bitter

14. What Are Their Greatest Strengths?

  • courageous
  • helpful
  • dependable
  • special skills (SEE NUMBER 22)

15. What Does Their Body Look Like?

  • hair color, length, texture
  • face shape
  • eye shape, color
  • skin color, texture, ailments
  • height
  • weight
  • build (athletic, scrawny, chubby)

16. What Makes Them Angry?

  • injustice
  • cruelty
  • money
  • love

17. What Makes Them Sad?

  • past relationships
  • death
  • life
  • family
  • weather

18. What Do They Eat?

  • only meat
  • vegetarian
  • omnivore
  • vegan
  • only things from nature
  • only one food group

19. What Are They Worried About?

  • the future
  • the past
  • the present
  • their family
  • their lover
  • their money

20. What Is Their Spirit Animal?

  • birds (hawks, owls, eagles, flamingos, hummingbirds)
  • reptiles (geckos, snakes, turtles, alligators, chameleons)
  • fish (clownfish, bass, catfish, stingrays)
  • mammals (wolves, horses, cows, pigs, dolphins, cats, dogs, platypuses)
  • insects (ladybugs, bees, butterflies, ants)

21. How Do They Feel About Love?

  • distrustful
  • slow to develop feelings
  • quick to fall in love
  • love everyone they see
  • unable to love
  • burned by love

22. What Special Skills Do They Have?

  • painting
  • singing
  • dancing
  • photography
  • skiing
  • running
  • writing poetry
  • playing an instrument
  • gymnastics
  • superpowers

23. What Is Their Greatest Failure?

  • financial
  • family
  • friends
  • work
  • hobbies
  • flunking out of school
  • giving up on someone/something

What are some questions you use to develop characters in your writing? Comment below!

Bonus: If You Liked This Article Check Out…

4 Comments on “Writing Tips: 23 Questions For Character Building

  1. Pingback: Writing Tips: 5 Tips For Writing a First Draft – Cornfields in LA

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