Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 22, 2014

90 Things to Know About Your Characters Before Writing

IF red g

Here is a character illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. Just from the picture we can see she likes to dress nice, is probably a princess, most likely loves the color red, and likes to dance with mice. This is just the tip of the iceberg for this beautiful girl.  Every agent and editor will tell you that it is a writers characters that make or break their story, so I made up a list of questions you can answer to help you get to know your character before you start writing. It can even help you with your next revision.

CHARCACTER CHECKLIST:

  1. How old is your character?
  2. What does your character look like?
  3. Are they tall, short, fat, shinny, big nose, big ears, long eyelashes, acne, etc.
  4. Is your character happy with the way they look?
  5. What kind of clothes do they like to wear?
  6. Does your character dream? What are they about?
  7. What are your character’s favorite food? Favorite junk food, Favorite ice cream flavor?
  8. What is their favorite color? Favorite flower? Favorite movie? Favorite game?
  9. Do the kids in school like him or her?
  10. Has that changed? Did the kids like them in a lower grade or vice versa?
  11. Are they interested in sports?
  12. Are they a natural athlete or someone who has to try hard to play a sport?
  13. What was their role in their family growing up?
  14. Do they love their parents, siblings, etc?
  15. Do they have a computer? What do they do on the computer? Are there any restrictions?
  16. Are they getting addicted to any technology?
  17. Do they have a cell phone? Any problems with how they use it?
  18. Do they talk on their cell phone when they should be sleeping? Do they text too much?
  19. Do they like to read?
  20. What type of books, magazines, etc. do they read?
  21. Do they play a musical instrument?
  22. What were they most proud of as a kid?
  23. What did they find terribly embarrassing as a kid?
  24. What still embarrasses them?
  25. Who is their best friend?
  26. Does your character have a best friend?
  27. Has that changed?
  28. What is their first best friend like?
  29. What do they like about their friend?
  30. Do they like to talk? Do they talk too much? Are they shy or a loner?
  31. Does your character cry alot? Gets mad easily? Laughs easily? Make jokes?
  32. What ‘group’ are they in during school?
  33. What do they want to be when they grew up–and how is that going?
  34. Have they ever been sick or in an accident?
  35. What music do they like? Do they hate the music that other people in their family like?
  36. What are their hobbies?
  37. Does your character collect anything?
  38. Do they play video games?
  39. Does your main character like getting dirty?
  40. Do they have good hygiene?
  41. Would you say your character is selfish?
  42. What annoys them?
  43. Are they a bully?
  44. What makes them laugh?
  45. Are they a dog, a cat, or an animal person?
  46. Does your character have a pet? Want a pet?
  47. What season do they enjoy most?
  48. Do they have a favorite holiday?
  49. Is your character religious? Does that play a role in their life?
  50. Is their family rich or poor?
  51. What type of house do they live in?
  52. Where do they live? City? Suburbs? Countryside?
  53. Has your character seen the ocean?
  54. Has your character traveled anywhere other than where they live? Would they like to travel?
  55. Does your character have money to spend?
  56. Do they care about money?
  57. Do they drink alcohol?
  58. Has anyone tried to get them to take drugs? Would they take drugs? Smoke?
  59. What is the worst thing your character has done?
  60. What do they feel most passionately about?
  61. What trait do they find most admirable in others?
  62. Do they want a job that helps people or a job that makes money?
  63. Are they a leader or a follower?
  64. What scares them?
  65. What are their long term goals?
  66. What are their short term goals?
  67. What are their bad habits?
  68. If they could have lived in another decade which would it have been?
  69. What do they do when they’re bored?
  70. What do they think happens after we die?
  71. If they were to come into money what would they do with it?
  72. Have they ever been in love?
  73. What happened to that person?
  74. Are they still interested in that person?
  75. Does the person know about that?
  76. What did the family think about this person?
  77. Who was or is the love of their life?
  78. Is your character afraid of anyone? Or anything?
  79. What is their biggest fear?
  80. Do they feel safe? Of not, who or what is causing that anxiety?
  81. Are they in a sexual relationship? Would they like to be?
  82. Do they look forward to growing up?
  83. What do they want the most?
  84. How close are they to getting what they want?
  85. What will happen if they don’t get what they want?
  86. Any negative forces around your character?
  87. Does your character have anyone to confide in?
  88. What is the best thing you character has ever done?
  89. Does your character get depressed? What depresses them?
  90. Does your character look at the world as being half full or half empty?

Thank you Dow for sending in the above illustration. Dow is an aspiring children’s book illustrator. She won the 2013 SCBWI On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award that promotes diversity in children’s books. Please visit her newly organized portfolio site at http://www.artbydow.blogspot.com. She was also feature on Illustrator Saturday: https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/illustrator-saturday-dow-phumiruk-md/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. This list is such a great tool for character development. Thank you, Kathy.

  2. What an amazing list, Kathy. Thanks–sharing it with my writing students.

  3. I love this list!

  4. Oh, my, that illustration is gorgeous! I love it and I love this list. I will be posting the link on my blog. Thanks.

  5. Thank you again for sharing, Kathy. And this list is fabulous!

  6. Oh, how I love lists like these! I’m adding it to my “character interviews” and misc. worksheets. Yay! Thank you😀

  7. Great list! Thanks.


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