13 Unusual Questions for Character Development

When you’re creating characters, you have the obvious questions.  What’s their name?  How old are they?  What do they look like?  What are their interests, and what’s their worldview?  Strengths, weaknesses, and deepest fear?  These are highly useful, especially if you have a good handle on the answers.  If you want to make your characters truly realistic though, it helps to go a little deeper.  To that end, and also because it’s plain fun, here are some more unique questions to ask about your characters.

  1. What do they do while standing and waiting in a long line?
  2. What do they think of snow?  About people throwing snowballs at the back of their head (even if they don’t mind snow itself)?
  3. What do they always keep in their purse, backpack, and/or pockets?  Quarters, lipstick, band-aids, sunglasses, or a book in case they get stuck in line?  When not out and about, is there a certain place at home they always keep their bag?
  4. How do they react to people who annoy them?
  5. Opinion of coffee and/or caffeine?
  6. What are their eating and exercise habits?  Do they have food allergies or sensitivities?
  7. Do they have seasonal allergies?  So many people do in real life, but fictional people rarely seem to.
  8. How does their attitude and/or behavior change when they’re tired?
  9. Cinnamon roll status – this is something fun I learned about a while back.  There are four answers.  1) They look like they’ll kill you, and could actually kill you.  2) They look like they could kill you but are a cinnamon roll at heart.  3) They look like a cinnamon roll but could actually kill you.  4) They look like a cinnamon roll and are a cinnamon roll at heart.  And for those of you whose characters are food: 5) They ARE a cinnamon roll, who could actually kill you.
  10. What’s their sense of humor like?
  11. How would they react if an actual alien showed up in their room? (Think E.T.)
  12. How do they feel about spiders and snakes?
  13. How comfortable are they with the technology of their world (whether it’s a contemporary or speculative story)?  Especially in a sci-fi story, it can be easy to focus on the tech and not how different characters interact with it, but in real life you have individual comfort levels ranging from the developers and programmers to those who stick with flip phones and don’t have computers at all.  

There are plenty more oddly specific or just plain wacko questions you could throw at your characters, but hopefully this will get you started.  If you have more you’d like to add, feel free to share them in the comments!

5 thoughts on “13 Unusual Questions for Character Development”

  1. Here’s one: How do they react when someone tells them what to do? Bristle up and defy? Comply willingly? Bristle up internally but pause deliberately and think about it?

    That’s a fun list!

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