Thinking About Characters

I apologize for there being no flash fiction this week. I was having trouble gathering my thoughts in story mode. Hopefully I will get some written for next week. I plan to work on that this afternoon, time permitting. Today I want to share a little bit about character development. I think I wrote earlier that I am a character first writer. That means I think of my characters and fully develop them, but then struggle with plot. I am working on learning to do at least a little outlining to help with plot points when I write flash fiction. I hope to translate that into my novel writing.

When I develop a character, I ask myself a series of questions. These are questions I made up myself to serve my own needs. You might adjust them accordingly. The first several questions are short answer and give you a more physical view of your character. The rest of the questions are long answer–I usually write a couple of paragraphs for each of them. By the time I am finished, I have 2000-3000 words for each character. I do this for almost every character that is going to make an appearance. Here are the questions:



Weight: (can give body description here)

Hair color: (can describe cut, length, curly or straight, etc)

Eye color: (can describe shape, depth of expression, etc.)

Fashion sense: (what do they wear to work? at home? on a night on the town? to bed?)

Education: (where did they go to school? any degrees completed? any honors? did they graduate? do they long to go back to school? if so, for what? does it relate to their current job?)

Profession: (what do they do now? where do they work? how do they like it? does their job relate to their education? is there room to advance? Do they want to advance? Do they need more schooling to advance? what would be their dream job?)

Work history: (go beyond their current profession. how many jobs have they had? did they like them? why did they leave? what did they learn from each job? what types of jobs did they have? did that shape the profession they have now? who did they meet at these jobs? are they still in touch with anyone? what tasks did they do at each job? did their jobs relate to their education?)

Personality: (quirks? how do they react around other people? are they friendly? withdrawn? give basic personality traits.)

Romance history: (current relationship? past relationships? crushes? have they ever had sex? how did they feel about it? anything hurtful in their romantic past? are they still friends with any of their exes? are they happy in their current relationship? why or why not?)

Interests: (what do they do in their spare time? hobbies? things they are passionate about? are they obsessed with Game of Thrones or other TV shows or movies? do they like to go outdoors? do they have friends to hang out with? what are their friends like? are they good friends or acquaintances? do they share similar interests? where did they meet them?)

Family History: (who is in their family? where do they live? are they close-knit or distant? talk about family living and family that has passed away. Did anyone in their family have a great influence on them? Who do people say they look like? act like? what was growing up in this family like? how do they feel about their family members?)

Daily life: (what time do they get up each morning? What time do they go to bed? what do they do all day? What do they do at work? at home? on weekends? Do they run errands after work? If so, what kind? Basically, this is a portrait of a day or a couple of days in their life.)

Pets: (Do they have any pets? What kind? What are their names? what are their personalities like? how does your character interact with them? how much time does your character spend with them? what is the pet’s daily routine?

Home Environment: Describe the setting? where does your character live? what type of housing do they live in? what kind of neighborhood is it? what is the floor plan like? how is it decorated? is it cluttered or neat? how does your character feel about their living environment? is this a comfortable home for them or do they long for something bigger or smaller? what amenities does the property have? is it in good condition on the exterior or does it seem to need repair? does it let in plenty of light or is it dark?

These are some of the things you can think about when you are developing your characters. If you ever add questions, please let me know. I would love to see them and perhaps add them to my own list. I hope you find this post useful. Have a great day!


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