Understanding what drives your character on a day-to-day basis is an important part of developing a complex character that feels real.

There are many ways to delve deeper into your characters – there are probably as many ways to do it as there are authors – but one simple technique is to ask your character some simple questions.

When you’re just starting out with the development of a character, it can feel intimidating to think too deeply about where they come from and what their motivations are.

As you write, you’ll discover more about what your character is like and how their past influences their decision-making.

But to get started, you can use a fairly simple character description; writing down the basics of physical appearance in your description will also help as you move forward.

Here are some of my favourite questions to ask when I’m still getting to know new characters:

  • What do you do on rainy days?
  • Are you:
    • street smart / book smart,
    • optimist / pessimist,
    • introvert / extrovert?
  • What’s your favourite sound?
  • Your favourite place in the world?
  • What secrets do you have? What are you most afraid of people finding out about you?
  • What do you want the most?
  • What’s your biggest flaw?
  • Biggest strength?
  • Biggest fear?
  • Biggest accomplishment?
  • What’s your idea of perfect happiness?
  • Do you want to be remembered? What for?
  • What’s your favourite quote?
  • How do you approach:
    • power,
    • ambition,
    • love,
    • change?
  • What is the one possession or object you’d save from your burning house?
  • Who or what bores you?
  • What makes you angry?
  • What do you look for in a person?
  • How strong is your moral compass? When are you willing to compromise on your morals?
  • What are your pet peeves?
  • If you didn’t have to work another day, what would you do?
  • What’s the best compliment you ever got?
  • What do you think your tombstone will read?

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