Writers: Create Believable, Interesting Characters with this Questionnaire

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” Ernest Hemingway

There’s nothing worse (in my humble opinion) than reading a book or watching a movie that features wooden, unrealistic characters.

You can have the best, most page-turning plot in the world but if the characters are cliched or one-dimensional it can ruin the whole experience.

Recently I published a post about the 15 things I’d learnt from 15 years as a writer.

One of the things I shared was the joy of the Character Questionnaire and how useful it can be in helping writers develop well-rounded, interesting characters.

Another bonus of the Character Questionnaire is that you always end up getting ideas for your plot too.

Win – win.

So today I thought I’d share the Character Questionnaire I use in my writing workshops.

Feel free to copy and paste and add questions of your own.

Then take some time, preferably before you start writing your story, really getting to know your characters.

It’s a lot of fun and saves a load of time in the long run.

When you know your characters inside out the story is much more likely to flow.


  • How old are they?
  • What are their best and worst points physically?
  • How important is their appearance to them?
  • Are they attractive?
  • Do they believe themselves to be attractive?
  • Overall, was their childhood happy or unhappy?
  • What was their favourite toy as a child?
  • How do or did they get on with their parents?
  • Think of one key event from their past and how it has shaped them – positive and negative.
  • How do they speak? Accent? Catch-phrases etc?
  • What is their favourite meal?
  • What are their politics?
  • What newspaper do they read?
  • Do they believe in a God?
  • What is their bedroom like?
  • Do they have any secrets?
  • What makes them jealous?
  • What sports do they like?
  • Are they superstitious?
  • Have they ever been on a protest rally?
  • What is their greatest hope?
  • Who do they most admire?
  • How do they behave at a party? Are they shy or outgoing?
  • What is their favourite music?
  • Do they have any pets?
  • Have they ever lost anyone dear to them?
  • What is their perfect Saturday night?
  • What last made them cry?
  • Is their glass half full or half empty?
  • Are they popular?
  • Who is their best friend?
  • What is their favourite season and why?
  • What do they think of vegetarianism?
  • Have they ever taken drugs?
  • Would rejection make them angry or sad?
  • What car do they drive?
  • Do they love themselves?
  • What is their motto in life?
  • How do they behave when outside – day and night?
  • What are they most afraid of? And why? What is the root cause?


My new book, Dare to Dream: Inspirational Musings on Life, Love & Creativity, is available to pre-order here.

It’s packed full of advice and tips for writers and £1 from every copy sold will be donated to the charity Leuka, helping find a cure for leukaemia.

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