Character Development Questions

reprinted with permission by author Heather McCorkle (@HeatherMcCorkle on Twitter)

As I started research for my next novel, a young adult historical fantasy, I realized I needed to get to know my new main character. One of my favorite ways to do this is to fill out one of those personal questionnaires about them. This is the one I’ve compiled:1) What is your full name? What name do you go by and why?
2) What do you look like? What are your best and worst features?
3) What is your birth date? Do you celebrate or avoid it and why?
4) How do you prefer to dress? Do you wear any jewelry?
5) What are your parents and siblings names? How old are your siblings? Do you get along?
6) What type of people do you fit in best with?
7) Who are your friends? Enemies?
8) Who is your role model or idol?
9) Do you have any hobbies? Sports? Interests? Talents?
10) What do/did you want to be when you grow up?
11) What kind of music do you like? Movies? Books?
12) Do you have any bad habits? What habits in others can’t you stand?
13) What do you do to relax? What do you do to have fun?
14) What is your favorite food? Drink?
15) Does anything in particular embarrass you?
16) Are you agreeable or do you argue your point?
17) Do you have a temper?
18) Who is the most important person in the world to you?
19) Is there anything you’re afraid of?
20) Do you have any secrets?
21) What is your most prized possession?
22) Which of the five senses is strongest~or do you notice most? Sight, taste, touch, smell, or hearing?
23) What is your most powerful memory? Or do you not have one?
24) What quality do you most respect in others?
25) What is your best quality? Honesty, integrity, loyalty, honor?

Just add lines to write your answers on and you’ve got a great way to get to know your character. Feel free to copy and paste it. What are some of the tricks you use to develop your characters?


A friend (an awesome friend who I love, fyi) bought this book, Revision & Self-Editing, for me after I featured it on Material Girl.

I was correct in my assessment that it would be helpful.  It is, in fact, extremely informative.  James Scott Bell covers all the elements of writing: character, POV, scenes, plot & structure, etc.  Each chapter offers valuable exercises and techniques.  I couldn’t recommend this book more.

(Thanks again, Jen!)

I bought this book when it first came out because I loved Stephen King and I’d always thought about writing in a wistful sort of way.    King packs in a lot of practical advice and truth about writing in this book.  For instance, if you don’t read, forget being a writer.  Which, yes, makes sense but even so.  I wonder how many people want to write a book, be a published author, who really don’t consider diving into a book one of the true pleasures in life?

I do disagree with his assessment that if you have to plan, outline–whatever, that you’re not doing it right.  (I’m paraphrasing here, so forgive me.)  Everyone’s creative process is different, and we should protect and nurture our own way of storytelling.

One of the best assets of King is his voice, his ability to put his readers at ease, to settle in with him and enjoy a good, scary tale.  He brings that voice to this book and so, while it’s full of extremely smart advice and information, you still feel like you’re just sitting down to learn with one of the masters at his craft.