Today’s post is going to be a bit different, because this week, I have a special gift for you.
As a writer, sometimes the hardest part is figuring out who your characters really are.
You know what they look like, and you know what their favorite hobbies are, but when you sit down to write, they sound a little bit like zombies. They’re just stick figures. But you want something more.
And even though you’ve filled out all the character questionnaires and you have a Pinterest board full of reference pictures, the characters aren’t fleshed out.
Character development should go deeper than hair and eye color. #ProStoryBuildersTweet
You could spend hours poring over a bunch of deep, philosophical questions for your characters. Or, you could try some fun questions.
Without further ado, here are 101 Character Development Questions that are actually fun to write!
(This list is also available as a PDF download, for your future reference.)
Feel free to take out a notebook and write your character’s answers in any way you like. You can answer for them, answer in their voice, or write a short scene based on the prompt. Whatever gets you into your character’s shoes!
101 Fun Character Development Questions
- If they were an animal, what would they be? What is the first thing they’d do when they learn they’re an animal?
- Do they pick wildflowers?
- How do they like their eggs? (Fried, poached, soft-boiled, etc.)
- How do they see themselves in their head, and how is that image wrong?
- If they talked in their sleep, what weird jumble of words would come out?
- (For good guys) If they were a villain, what would their evil dark lord name be?
- Muffins or cupcakes? Write at least one page of their rant about muffins vs cupcakes.
- Do they prefer arm day or leg day?
- What is the longest they’ve ever slept in?
- They’re on their way to the hospital when they hit a parked car. They can’t stop, and don’t have paper for a note. They drive away without telling anyone what happened. How do they ease their conscience?
- Most embarrassing middle school moment?
- Favorite pizza toppings? List the top five in order.
- What was the last (non-story-related) dream they had while sleeping?
- If they suddenly vanished, what would their family assume they were up to? (Shopping, pranking people, overthrowing governments, etc.)
- What’s their least favorite possession that they wish they could get rid of, but can’t / shouldn’t?
- Write out their last nightmare as a short scene.
- If they spray-painted a city wall, what would they write / draw?
- Pick a fictional character from another book / movie to be their guardian angel. Is it hard to look out for your character? Does the guardian angel interact with them? What’s their first conversation like?
- Do they find fart noises funny? (Be honest.)
- They wake up permanently invisible. Do they ask for help right away, or do they stay hidden? What do they do while invisible?
- What are their final words? Try to make them unexpected!
- What one aspect of their physical appearance do they think is hot?
- Jeans, skinny jeans, or sweatpants?
- How far can they spit a watermelon seed?
- Are they more likely to notice the shapes of the clouds or the color of the sky?
- What do they joke about and say, “I would die for that!”
- On a road trip, are they the driver, the DJ in the passenger seat, or one of the people eating snacks and huddled under the bags in the back?
- Do they sleep in normal clothes or pajamas? To what degree are they clothed?
- What are their three favorite types of flowers?
- If they could travel to the future, but they couldn’t go back, would they do it to escape their problems?
- Do they prefer unicorns or pegusi?
- When they sneeze: hand, elbow, or nada?
- Their crush / another hot character asks them to dance and pulls them to the dance floor. How do they react? Do they try to hide their feelings? And most importantly, do they dance?
- What was the last thing they thought about stealing?
- Their favorite thing about riding a Ferris wheel?
- Are they a cat, dog, or horse person?
- What time period do they wish they lived in? Now as the author, write why that would be a disaster.
- Do they celebrate Christmas? What’s their favorite Christmas decoration?
- Do they prefer the loud fireworks or the smaller, quieter fireworks?
- What song is their theme song?
- Do they keep a diary? What is the biggest secret in it?
- When they’re stressed, do they stress shop, bake, eat, or clean?
- Five years ago, who did they look up to? Do they still look up to them now? If not, why?
- Do they prefer raw cookie dough or fully baked cookies?
- While playing Monopoly, do they buy a bunch of properties right away or save their money as much as possible?
- What game are they terrible at playing?
- Are they ticklish?
- What would they do if they were locked in a room with a rat?
- They die and become a ghost, doomed to haunt others but unable to talk or write messages to say who they are. Who / what do they choose to haunt? Do they wish they could speak, or do they prefer to remain anonymous?
- What’s inside their glove box?
- What’s their birthstone? Do they like how it looks? Why or why not?
- If they could snap their fingers and become super famous overnight, would they do it? Have them weigh the pros and cons of fame.
- What’s their favorite color of Skittles?
- What TV shows do they binge-watch by themselves at 2 AM?
- Who is their favorite Avenger? Which Avenger are they the most like personality-wise?
- How can the other characters tell when they’re lying? (Looking down, picking at fingernails, not blinking, etc.)
- Do they prefer floral / outdoor scented candles, or candles that smell like food?
- Would they rather own a sailboat or a jet-ski?
- What keychains do / would they have on their backpack?
- When was the last time they physically attacked something?
- Do they pay attention to the weather forecast?
- What book / movie / song do they swear they hate until they’re alone and start reading / watching / singing it on repeat?
- Would they rather wear glasses or contacts? (Even if their eyesight is fine.) Why?
- Are they more of a slow-and-steady endurance runner or a super-fast sprinter?
- Can they do any celebrity impersonations?
- When was the last time your character got sick? Who took care of them?
- Who do they prefer to watch on TV: Oprah, Dr. Phil, Jimmy Kimmel, or Ellen DeGeneres?
- Do they know what memes are? If so, what memes do they quote on a regular basis?
- Do they give nicknames to other people? What is the funniest nickname they’ve come up with? Does everyone else know about these nicknames?
- What’s a weird / wacky / embarrassing story about them as a young child that everyone else remembers, but they don’t?
- When they go to the beach, do they use sunscreen? Lotion or spray-on?
- Do they play the arcade game with the claw? What do they try to win?
- How do they like their steak?
- If they speak more than one language, do they know the swear words in those languages?
- Do they prefer to write with a pencil or a pen? If they use pens, what color is the ink?
- They’re on the beach, waist deep in the water. A big wave rolls up and towers over their head. Quick— do they dive under the wave, body surf the wave, or freeze and get swept off their feet?
- What annoys them about the religious groups in their area?
- What is the most popular tweet they’ve ever written?
- Before the story starts, what are the last ten items in their Google search history? Did they clear that search history?
- Do they sing in the car, in the shower, or both?
- Deep down, do they believe a hot dog is a sandwich?
- Long sleeves or spaghetti straps?
- Do they have a harder time going to sleep at night or getting out of bed in the morning?
- Would they prefer to have nice hair, nice abbs, or a nice butt?
- What’s the weirdest place they’ve climbed up on?
- If they could make any scent into a perfume, what would it be?
- Picture this character’s worst enemy. Now write a short scene in an alternate universe where they fall in love with their enemy. What attracts them to each other? Try to find personality traits that the characters fall for (not just physical attraction).
- Why don’t they like how their voice sounds in recordings?
- Would they rather fly or be immortal?
- Do they try to avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk? Do they step on every crack? Do they care?
- What’s the dumbest way they’ve been injured?
- For a million dollars, would they punch their best friend in the nose? Either way, have the character defend their answer.
- Are they able to fall asleep in the car? On an airplane? On a boat?
- What is something they are fine with that most people would be afraid of?
- If they were forced to dye their hair, would they rather dye it purple or neon green?
- What do they schedule / plan out in their life? (Even if they wing it most of the time, they probably have at least one thing planned.)
- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube?
- Under what circumstances would they hug a complete stranger?
- If they were able to compete in the Winter Olympics, what sport would they compete in?
- How do they like their coffee? (Or tea if they don’t drink coffee)
- Now list 10 reasons why you love spending time with this character. They’re pretty awesome, right? How would you tell them so? Would they take the compliment?
I hope this gave you some good ideas for your characters. If this list helped you, please let me know, and I’ll continue to make similar lists in the future!
Here is the free PDF download of the character questionnaire:
Also, be sure to check out my post on how to strengthen your wimpy characters HERE.
Thanks for reading, and good luck with your characters!