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321 Character Development Questions

Updated on December 9, 2015

While not all of these questions will be applicable for every story, they're designed to encompass literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, and more! Before setting off on that next 150,000-word epic novel, take the time to make sure your characters are as developed as they can be. Building an in-depth character profile will help you come up with new surprises for your readers as the story goes on. Let me know which questions were the most helpful, or if there are more you want to add to the list!

The Basics

1. What are your character’s first, middle and last names?

2. Does your character have any nicknames? How do they feel about each of them?

3. Does your character ever change their name, either through marriage or other means?

4. Does your character have an alias, code name or pen name?

5. How old is your character?

6. What is your character’s birthdate?

7. Does your character act their age? Older? Younger?

8. Is your character in school, working, or seeking work?

9. Where does your character live?

10. Who does your character live with?

11. What is your character’s current occupation?

12. Do they like their job?

13. What race is your character? (If your character is non-human: What species are they?) Describe their skin tone.

14. Does your character have clear skin, acne, and/or freckles?

15. Do they have birthmarks and/or scars?

16. Is your character human, but with hidden or visible non-human characteristics?

17. What color is your character’s hair? Length? Texture?

18. What color are your character’s eyes?

19. How tall is your character?

20. What kind of figure does your character have? Are they skinny? Average? Curvy? Something else?

21. What are your character’s hands like?

22. What are their teeth like?

23. Does your character have a history of mental illness?

24. Does your character have any disabilities?

25. Do they wear glasses or contacts?

26. Does your character have any scars or other visible differences?

27. Is your character allergic to anything?

28. Do they have any other health issues?

29. How often does your character get sick?

30. Do they take medication on a regular basis?

31. Do they have any prosthetics or implants?

32. Have they ever had any surgery that impacts their current condition? (ie, laser corrective surgery, surgery that resulted in complications)

33. What is their native language? Is there a particular dialect they speak?

34. Do they use a lot of slang or technical jargon on a regular basis?

35. Do they speak any other languages? If so, how fluently?

36. Do they ever use malapropisms or have other language quirks?

37. How wealthy are they?

38. Are they a member of a particular class?


Relationships

39. Is your character straight, bisexual, gay, or some other orientation?

40. Has your character ever questioned their sexual orientation?

41. Are they cisgender, trans, genderfluid and/or nonbinary?

42. How does your character feel about people who are LGBTQ+?

43. Are they polyamorous or monogamous?

44. Does your character have a significant other? If so, who?

45. How do they feel about their significant other?

46. Is there someone else they are also interested in, romantically or sexually?

47. How did they meet their significant other, and how long ago?

48. How long have they been involved with their significant other?

49. Is your character married or divorced?

50. Does your character have an ex-partner who is relevant to the story?

51. Does your character usually seek lovers or partners who are older, younger, or about their age?

52. What do they look for in a partner or lover?

53. Does your character have children?

54. Who is your character’s immediate family?

55. Do they have extended family members who they sometimes interact with?

56. How often do they interact with their family in general?

57. Who are your character’s friends?

58. Who does your character trust?

59. Who does your character consider to be their best friend?

60. Who would your character die for?

61. Who are your character’s enemies?

62. How often do family, friends or significant others try to control your character?

63. How often does your character try to control family, friends or significant others?

64. Do others typically like your character?

65. Do others typically trust your character?

66. How many other characters are attracted to this character?

67. Are other characters jealous of this character?

68. Does your character have any purely one-sided conflicts or rivalries with others?

69. Do they have a good reputation in their work or in their community?


Hobbies

70. Does your character read regularly?

71. Do they draw, paint or do any other visual art?

72. Do they write or play music?

73. Do they write essays, fiction, poetry, or other works?

74. Do they knit, sew, or do any other fabric crafts?

75. Do they create any other kind of creative works?

76. Do they play or watch any sports regularly?

77. Do they work out on a regular basis?

78. Do they like to travel?

79. Do they like exploring places, including their own city or town?

80. Do they like museums or other cultural sites?

81. Do they watch a lot of TV or movies?

82. Do they like a particular genre of movies or books?

83. Do they like trips to the spa or aromatherapy?

84. Do they have any hobbies or interests that they hide from others?

85. Are they in any communities or clubs related to their hobbies?

86. If they had an entire weekend to themselves, how would they spend it?

87. What bores this character?

88. When reading, watching or listening to things, does this character have a critical eye, or a more appreciative one?


Skills

89. Is your character particularly good at any of their hobbies?

90. Can your character use magic? How do their skills compare to others’ skills in their world?

91. Can your character shapeshift?

92. Can your character see the future or wield other psychic abilities?

93. Can they use guns or other weapons?

94. What weapon do they usually use, if any?

95. How well do they use it?

96. How long have they been able to use it?

97. Can they pick locks, make a particular kind of drug, hack, or do other illegal activities?

98. Do they have to have special training or education to do their current job, skills, or hobbies? If so, how did they acquire it?

99. How long did your character spend in school or training? Do they hold particular degrees, certificates or other awards?

100. Was there a subject that they were bad at in school or training?

101. Are they particularly persuasive?

102. Can they cook well?

103. Are they particularly good at sex or other romantic skills?

104. Are they good at anything else?

105. Do they work on improving their education or other technical knowledge on a regular basis?

106. Are they particularly bad at anything in their day-to-day life or work?

107. If they could pick any skill to be good at, what would it be?


Work

108. How long has your character been in their current occupation?

109. What do they like or hate about it?

110. How did they get this job?

111. What are their pay and benefits (pension, health insurance, car, etc.)?

112. Who are your character’s colleagues?

113. Is your character particularly good at their job, in their own opinion?

114. Are they good at their job, in their colleagues’ opinion?

115. Who does your character look up to at work?

116. Do they have to wear a special uniform or other equipment to do their job?

117. What is their office or other workspace like?

118. Are they actively seeking a promotion or a transfer to another position?

119. What do they think of their boss?

120. Would your character ever refuse to take a particular job due to it being immoral or dangerous?


Personality

121. What three adjectives describe your character best?

122. Is your character an introvert or extrovert?

123. Do they like to hang out with large groups of friends, small groups, or nobody at all?

124. Are they a leader or a follower?

125. How confident are they?

126. Are they stubborn or easy-going?

127. Are they generally happy?

128. Do they often make jokes?

129. How sarcastic are they?

130. Are they flaky or forgetful?

131. Are they punctual?

132. Are they lazy or hard-working?

133. How adventurous are they?

134. How smart are they?

135. How innovative are they?

136. How prideful are they?

137. Are they reckless or cautious?

138. Do they generally speak their mind?

139. How often do they lie?

140. Do they ever tell big lies? If so, what circumstances justify them?

141. Do they address drama and conflict directly, or do they run from it?

142. Do they try to fix other people’s problems, or do they stay out of it?

143. Are they passive-aggressive?

144. Do they generally get along well with others?

145. Do they compliment and congratulate others a lot?

146. Do they ever apologize for their mistakes?

147. Do they ever have mood swings?

148. Do they cry often?

149. Do they swear a lot?

150. Do they lose their temper easily?

151. How do they deal with anger?

152. How willing are they to ask for help when they need it?

153. How messy or neat are they?

154. Do they act differently around anyone, like their boss, family or significant other?

155. Do they want to change their personality at all?

156. What do they consider to be their flaws?

157. Do other characters think this character has flaws?

158. What is your character afraid of?

159. What do they like?

160. What do they love?

161. What do they dislike?

162. What makes them sad?

163. What makes them angry?

164. What are their pet peeves?

165. What motivates them?

166. What are their short-term and long-term goals?

167. Are they a picky eater?

168. What is their favorite food?

169. Do they like sweets?

170. Do they have a favorite color?

171. Do they have any mantras or catchphrases?

172. When it comes to close friendships and relationships, would this character rather do, say, or buy something nice for others?

173. Would your character rather receive nice words, actions or things from their close friends and significant others?


Self-expression

174. How does your character like to wear their hair?

175. Do they ever wear makeup?

176. Do they shave on a regular basis?

177. How often do they bathe?

178. What is your character’s general hygiene like?

179. What kind of clothes do they like to wear?

180. Do they show a lot of skin on a regular basis? On special occasions?

181. Do they dress differently for work?

182. How do they dress up for special occasions?

183. How large is their wardrobe?

184. Do they generally wear an article of clothing until it wears out, or do they donate or sell old clothes?

185. How much money do they usually spend on clothing?

186. Do they have any tattoos?

187. If they could have any tattoo, what would it be, and where?

188. Do they base a lot of their actions or beliefs on astrology, tarot, or superstitions?

189. How do they vent about their problems?

190. What gestures do they use while speaking?


Life

191. Is your character religious? If so, what religion?

192. Do they observe their religion regularly?

193. How does your character feel about religion in general?

194. How messy or clean is your character’s place of residence?

195. How much does their rent, mortgage or other residential expense cost them?

196. How do they decorate their place of residence?

197. How much time do they spend there?

198. Does your character drink or do drugs of any kind?

199. What kind of alcohol does your character prefer?

200. Would they give up alcohol or drugs for something or someone?

201. How often do they drink or use drugs?

202. How much money do they usually spend on drinking or drugs compared to the rest of their expenses?

203. Do they throw wild parties and/or attend others’ wild parties?

204. Are they vegan or vegetarian?

205. How often does your character go on dates?

206. How often do they have sex?

207. Do they prefer casual sex or longer relationships?

208. Does your character have any kinks or fetishes?

209. How aggressive are they when it comes to romance?

210. What gender do they end up dating most frequently, if any?

211. Have they ever cheated on someone?

212. Have they ever been in an abusive relationship?

213. Do they like to cuddle?

214. Do they try to impress potential partners with sexuality, intelligence, charm, or something else?

215. Does your character have any nervous habits?

216. Does your character frequent a particular place, like a coffee shop or bar?

217. Do they keep up on household chores, or let them slide?

218. How much sleep does your character get most nights?

219. Do they prefer to sleep alone, or with someone else present?

220. What time do they like to go to bed at night and get up in the morning?

221. What do they do to relax?

222. What do they do to try to cheer themselves up when they’re sad?

223. What kind of weather do they like?

224. What is their idea of a fun weekend?


Possessions

225. Does your character own jewelry or other valuables?

226. Does your character have any keepsakes?

227. How much technology does your character own?

228. What kind of transportation does your character own or have access to?

229. Does your character collect anything?

230. Does your character have a stash of anything illegal (drugs, weapons, etc.)?

231. Do they have stuffed animals?

232. What kind of purse, backpack or other bag does your character use on a regular basis?

233. What is usually in your character’s purse, backpack or other bag?

234. When they go on a trip, do they tend to over-pack or under-pack?

235. Do they have pets?

236. If they could have any pet in the world, what would it be?


Opinions

237. What is your character’s political ideology?

238. Does your character identify with a particular political party?

239. How do they feel about war and violence?

240. How do they feel about women’s rights?

241. How do they feel about poverty and workers’ rights?

242. How do they feel about privacy and individual rights?

243. How do they feel about education?

244. How do they feel about laws and government in general?

245. Are there other issues specific to their universe or setting that they feel strongly about?

246. What issues are they completely apathetic to?

247. Do they have any prejudices or biases?

248. Do they believe in ghosts, the paranormal, and/or an afterlife?


Past

249. Where was your character born?

250. Who raised them?

251. What class did your character grow up as? How wealthy were they?

252. Has your character ever lost a friend or close family member?

253. Does your character regret any of their choices?

254. Do they resent any choices made by someone else?

255. What major life events motivate your character?

256. Has your character experienced trauma?

257. Did they get in a lot of fights, physical or otherwise, while growing up?

258. How was your character raised? Were their parents strict?

259. What was your character’s childhood like in general?

260. What kind of toys did they have?

261. Were they generally well-behaved?

262. What were their teenage/young adult years like?

263. Did they ever break the law or get arrested?

264. What places have special meaning to your character? Foods? Songs?

265. Did your character’s personality change in any way before the start of the story?

266. What was your character’s occupation before the start of the story?

267. Did your character gain or lose any particular skills before the start of the story?

268. Was your character someone else in a past life?

269. How was your character’s relationship with the antagonist different in the past?

270. How were your character’s relationships with the other primary characters different in the past?


Future

271. Where does your character want to be in five years? Ten years?

272. Do they ever want to get married?

273. Do they ever want children?

274. Would they rather adopt or have biological children?

275. Do they ever want to move someplace else?

276. Would they rather live in the city or a small town?

277. What is your character’s dream job?

278. What is their dream vacation?

279. What are their general hopes for the future?

280. How does your character want to die?


Feelings

281. What is your character grateful for?

282. Are they jealous of something that another character has?

283. What are your character’s insecurities about their body? About their skills?

284. Does your character want revenge for anything?

285. How does your character feel about the antagonist of the story?

286. What keeps your character awake at night?

287. What does your character dream about?

288. What do they spend a lot of time thinking about?

289. What is your character’s general outlook on life?

290. Does your character feel particular sympathy or empathy for an individual, group, or idea?

291. Do they tend to judge others based on past mistakes?

292. Are they more of an idealist or a pragmatist?


Scenarios

293. How would would this character react to finding a stray kitten?

294. How would they support their best friend dealing with a breakup?

295. What would your character say to someone catcalling them?

296. How would they react to their significant other wanting to pack up and go on a road trip the next day?

297. How would they celebrate their significant other’s birthday?

298. What would your character do immediately after losing their job?

299. What would they do with a million dollars?

300. What would they do if they believed an asteroid was about to hit their planet and wipe out all lifeforms?

301. Would your character rather give up their residence, their job, or their best friend?

302. If your character could start any kind of charity, what kind of cause would they support?

303. What would your character do with their free time if they were able to retire and/or move away from existing obligations?

304. Would they ever have sex with a former teacher or boss?

305. Would they ever have sex with a current teacher or boss?

306. How would they handle being homeless?

307. What would they do if they came across a homeless woman and child on the street?

308. Would they consider fully uprooting themselves and moving to another city, country or planet?

309. If their country had a sudden and violent revolution, would this character choose a side, try to escape, protect the innocent bystanders, or do something else?

310. How would they react to being conscripted into the army?

311. Would your character ever consider going back to school or training for something new?

312. What would your character be for Halloween, assuming Halloween was celebrated in their time/setting?

313. Would your character ever do a pornographic photo shoot or video?

314. Is this character more scared of vampires, zombies or ghosts?

315. Would your character rather steal $100 from five average people, or $500 from one wealthy person?

316. Would they rather have money or fame?

317. Would they rather have good health or love?

318. What piece of technology would your character never live without?

319. Would they rather be omniscient or live forever?

320. Would they ever sky-dive?

321. Assuming your character lived in your own time and setting, who would their favorite authors and musicians be?

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