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17 Character Development Exercises for Writers

Character development exercises are short forms of deliberate practice to improve your writing skills and round out your characters.

They are typically not used in the final novel, but are little extras that help you understand the personalities that you are writing.

Because for some of us, nailing down that perfect character can be hard. And to help with that, we’ve assembled 17 different exercises to improve your characters.

  • Why character exercises are important
  • A list of 17 different exercises that you can implement today
  • Examples and advice to improve your characters

Table of contents

  • Why Are Character Development Exercises Important?
  • Exercise #1: Write a FULL Description
  • Exercise #2: Play Dress Up
  • Exercise #3: Write a Description Scene Through the Character’s Eyes
  • Exercise #4: Practice Showing Emotion
  • Exercise #5: Write a “Slice of Life” Episode
  • Exercise #6: Write Other People Gossiping About Your Character
  • Exercise #7: Write a Progression Short Story
  • Exercise #8: Draw the Character
  • Exercise #9: Create a Character Profile
  • Exercise #10: Conduct a Character Interview
  • Exercise #11: Play the “Why” Game
  • Exercise #12: Create a Character Based on Someone You Know
  • Exercise #13: Imagine What Happens Before and After the Novel
  • Exercise #14: Put Them in Horrible Situations (Muahahahahah)
  • Exercise #15: Create a Timeline
  • Exercise #16: Do a Little Fan-fiction
  • Exercise #17: Use Character Writing Prompts

So why use a character development exercise in the first place?

This may be a valid question, especially for authors like myself, who just want to dive into the writing and let the characters unfold as I write.

But honestly, a little work up front can save you a load of headache afterward.

Running through a handful of these exercises will help you to:

  • Understand your character’s emotions
  • Give you practice writing in their voice and from their point of view
  • Find out what sets them apart from other characters
  • Flesh them out to create round and dynamic characters
  • Establish the relationship between your characters and the setting, or other characters
  • Deliberate practice of the process to create complex and well-written characters

In short, it’s a great way to deliberately practice writing and reduces the need to go back and do extensive revisions on your characters.

That said, this might not be the best thing to do if you’re a pantser and just want to dive in and discover your characters along the way. But it can be a great tool in your author tool belt.

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So without further ado, here are 17 of our best picks for character development exercises. 

Exercise #1 : Write a FULL Description

When it comes to writing characters, most of us focus on the facial features, things like hair color, eye color, etc.

A great way to begin getting to know your character is to do a full description of them. In a book, we might not do this to the extent you might in a creative writing exercise, which is why it’s good to practice here.

Here are some things to consider: 

  • Skin/hair/eye color
  • Do they have any warts or moles?
  • What is their hair style?
  • What is their build?
  • Do they have any scars, tattoos, etc.
  • What is their general complexion. Is their skin smooth and silky, rough and calloused, or even bruised and battered?
  • What default facial expression do they have?
  • What does he/she smell like?

Exercise #2 : Play Dress Up

What we choose to wear says a lot about a person. Someone wearing an extravagant French-style outfit from the 18th century will give you a completely different impression than a cut business suit from the 21st century.

The problem is that most authors, when they’re writing about their characters, often forget to add a lot of detail about the clothes they are wearing. It’s easy to see these things in your mind and forget that your readers don’t see what you see. They see what you write.

One way to help overcome this oversight is to continue the exercise above, but focus on clothing.

And don’t just focus on any one type, because your protagonist will most likely use several types of clothing throughout the course of your novel. Here are just some examples:

  • Travel clothing
  • Clothes for a night on the town
  • Clothes for wilderness survival
  • Combat wear

Exercise #3 : Write a Description Scene Through the Character’s Eyes

Ideally, every character should experience the same thing differently, depending on their background, their wants and desires, and their tastes.

Additionally, great prose is often written from the perspective of the character making the observation.

For example, let’s say you have two people, one who has grown up in a desert their whole life, where water is scarce, and the other who grew up in a place where water was plentiful. 

Imagine these two people on a hot day, observing a third person splashing water on their face. If you’re writing from the first character’s perspective, you could describe this as “and the man took a handful of water and wasted it on his face.” The second person might describe it this way, “I watched as the man poured the cool liquid and splashed it all over his face. I wish I were him right now.”

Do you see the difference there? In one, the character sees using water in one way as a waste, and for the other, it’s something to be sought after. 

Exercise #4 : Practice Showing Emotion

We’ve all heard the adage to “show, don’t tell,” but what does this really look like for most characters?

This is something that really only comes with practice. Once you’ve done it enough times, you’ll recognize instances where you’re saying things like “he felt hungry,” and can replace them with something like “He winced and put a hand to his stomach as it growled, and he swallowed hard.”

Character emotion is one of these areas where showing rather than telling can really enhance your novel.

Exercise #5 : Write a “Slice of Life” Episode

There are a lot of scenes in a book, and most of them have a purpose. That said, there are many scenes that probably occur in that character’s life, but that we don’t talk about because they’re not important for the story.

However, you as the author should have an idea of what happens in these less important moments.

Some examples of a “slice of life” episode might include:

  • Having dinner with family
  • Going to the bathroom
  • The morning routine
  • A conversation with a co-worker
  • Late-night conversations with a spouse
  • Cooking a meal
  • Going on vacation
  • Playing with their kids
  • Coming home a little too drunk
  • Visiting a museum

Exercise #6 : Write Other People Gossiping About Your Character

Very often, we learn more from others about ourselves that we might not have known on our own. Others can provide unique perspectives, and in some cases expose huge biases (on both sides).

For example, a proud character might not realize that he/she is proud, but it’s easy for an outside observer to spot this.

Exercise #7 : Write a Progression Short Story

In real life, people change a lot, and characters should change in stories too (most of the time). 

A great way to show this is to write a short story that examines the character at different parts of her/his life. You can focus on key moments in their life, but you could also just follow exercise #5 and focus on a few more everyday events.

The purpose of this exercise is to show how that person may have changed. Do they view the world differently as a working adult, vs as a teenager? A child? An elderly person?

What about before or after experiencing some kind of trauma?

Exercise #8 : Draw the Character

I’ll be honest, I’m not an artist. But I am a visual person, and getting some solid visuals of the character can be a huge boost in helping me understand them.

If you’re like me and really have no design skills , then finding a few photos is fine.

I’d recommend several photos though, since one might not be enough. You could have some for their face and general appearance, one for their clothes and how they look, etc.

If you know a program like Photoshop, you could even crop these together to get an even better sense of what you character looks like.

This is a great exercise for understanding the feel of a character, which is often harder to put into words.

Exercise #9 : Create a Character Profile

Imagine you work for the FBI, and you have to draft up a dossier about your character. What might that look like?

Fortunately, we’ve done a whole article about this topic, so you should definitely check that out, and also don’t forget to pick up our character profile template, which can easily help you through this process.

If you want a thorough process to identify the character’s appearance, personality, background, and more, this is the way to go. 

The best aspects to focus on are the flaws, motivations, and fears of your character. What prompts them to action? Understanding these things will help you get at the core of your character’s personality traits.

Exercise #10 : Conduct a Character Interview

Imagine you sat in a darkened room, across the table from you is your character. You can ask them anything, they won’t be offended, and they will understand the question.

What do you ask them about?

Writing a character interview is almost like writing yourself into a short story where you get to personally meet your character and ask them questions.

This is huge for helping you understand the character’s voice, but also a good strategy for building solid character backstory and character traits.

To help, we’ve already assembled over 200 character development questions that can aid you in this process.

Exercise #11 : Play the “Why” Game

This goes along with the idea of an interview, but sometimes in order to dig really deep into the motivations of your character, you’ve got to ask why.

Is your character aggressive? Ask them why. 

From there you might find out that his mother shouted at him as a kid, and he saw his parents fight a lot. Ask why.

You might learn that his father had a drinking problem and it meant that his mother took it out on him. Ask why.

From there, it might come out that his father had lost a lot of money in a business deal, leading him to turn to drink.

I hope you get the idea. The more you ask why, the more you’ll dig deeper into your character’s past, and the better you will understand them.

Exercise #12 : Create a Character Based on Someone You Know

This can be a little dangerous, because to be honest, most of the people we know are not that interesting. And we also want to avoid lawsuits for defamation if the comparison is too obvious.

That said, the people we know can be a huge inspiration to pick and choose ideas to incorporate into your characters.

For example, my own father and uncle have a really fun way of talking to each other. They’re always ribbing on each other and calling eachother weird, made-up names. You can tell that they love each other, but it’s an uncommon way of showing it.

This might make a good relationship between two people in a book.

Exercise #13 : Imagine What Happens Before and After the Novel

The writer is mostly concerned with what happens during the plot of her novel. But if written well, a character will feel like they exist long before and long after the pages of the book.

So it’s a good idea to try dreaming up what happens to these characters in that time. 

It can be dramatic, or it can be mundane. Impactful, or ordinary. It doesn’t matter much. All that matters is that you have a past and future in mind for that character (unless you plan to kill them off of course).

And who knows, you might even come up with some good ideas for other books involving those characters.

Exercise #14 : Put Them in Horrible Situations (Muahahahahah)

I’ve heard it said that you should basically put your characters through hell in a story, and never let up.

While this is good advice, it’s not always practical. That said, putting your characters through the meat-grinder is a great way to learn how they react to conflict.

These scenarios don’t have to be trials you will actually use in your novel. These are just different ways to put your character in pain and see how they react (I know I sound like a very unethical scientist, don't @ me).

Here are some possibilities:

  • The loss of a loved one
  • A diagnosis of cancer
  • The loss of a limb
  • Getting tortured
  • Breaking up with the love of their life
  • Losing everything they own
  • Being betrayed by a friend

Exercise #15 : Create a Timeline

Sometimes it’s hard to keep every part of a character’s life straight. That’s where a timeline can be helpful.

A timeline is a simple list of events in the character’s life, though they can get more complex and interesting, and you can even put some design skills to work if you want.

But timelines only have to be a simple list of events. They can include events from before their birth to their death, or they can be focused on a specific period of their life.

It will depend on the character and the story you will want to tell.

Exercise #16 : Do a Little Fan-fiction

When we’re writing a story, we might not have a full grasp on it yet, and that’s where writing fan fiction can help.

Imagine your character interacting with characters from a story you already know? Imagine the ultimate crossover between your story and your favorite franchise.

For example, what Hogwarts house would your character belong in? What might it look like when he/she is sorted and interacts with other characters in that house or other characters from the Harry Potter books.

It’s a great way to lean on characters you already know, to help unveil more about the characters you’re trying to discover.

Exercise #17 : Use Character Writing Prompts

There are a bunch of character-related creative writing prompts out there, and many of them can be quite helpful in getting your brain to think outside of the box.

In theory, we could have a list much longer than 17 if we wanted to include more of these prompts, but that would end up being too much.

Instead, I recommend this post , or checking out our list of character questions to give you ideas.

Final Thoughts on Character Development Exercises

If you’ve made it far, first of all, well done.

Second of all, you might be a little overwhelmed, but don’t worry. This list is not meant to be a checklist for everything you should do to expand on your characters.

Instead, this is a handful of ideas that you can take (or leave) and use them to better understand your characters.

As you apply these exercises, I can pretty much guarantee that you will grow as a writer, become more familiar with your characters, and increase your chances of having a great dynamic character in your books.

Let us know how it goes!

Jason Hamilton

When I’m not sipping tea with princesses or lightsaber dueling with little Jedi, I’m a book marketing nut. Having consulted multiple publishing companies and NYT best-selling authors, I created Kindlepreneur to help authors sell more books. I’ve even been called “The Kindlepreneur” by Amazon publicly, and I’m here to help you with your author journey.

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Character writing: Complete guide to creating your cast

Creating characters who spring to life on the page is vital for filling your story with people your readers can love, despise, relate to. Read a complete guide to creating characters.

  • Post author By Jordan
  • 11 Comments on Character writing: Complete guide to creating your cast

creative writing character building

This character writing guide is a one-stop resource for creating types of characters in fiction. Learn key characterization terms, how to develop characters, how to write stronger character descriptions, and more. Use the links to jump to the character writing subtopic you want to explore now.

Character terms: Key concepts

Read useful character definitions plus a concise explanation of important concepts in character writing.

To develop characters to cast your story, it helps to understand what is:

A figure in a book, play, film or video game or other media. They may be human (e.g. Anna Karenina), animal (e.g. Beatrix Potter), hybrid, alien, or an anthropomorphic object (e.g. Mr Potato Head in Toy Story ).

We also use the word to describe the qualities and traits that create personality or persona. For example, we say a very giving or altruistic person has a ‘selfless character’.


The way a character is built through narration and other dramatic and narrative devices (such as voice, action, reaction, habits, strengths, flaws and other details).

Character development

Often used synonymously with characterization – the way a character grows and changes (’round’ characters develop whereas ‘flat’ characters like Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote don’t and are more static).

For a detailed look at how to write and use flat characters read our comprehensive post.

Short for ‘goal, motivation and conflict’ this term (popularized by Debra Dixon in GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict ) refers to core elements of character development.

Goals are what characters want, motivations why they want then, and conflict the obstacles (internal or external) that complicate the path to success.

Character arc

The change process a character undergoes in a story due to its events. Character arcs include the rising and falling action (or peaks and valleys) of setback and disaster (valley) or progress and triumph (peak).

Many arcs are archetypal and common to many stories, such as ‘rags to riches’ (e.g. the character arc of ‘Cinderella’).

Character background that informs who your character already is when your story picks up (it may be alluded to, shown in flashbacks, or not shown but used by the author to inform a character’s personality and actions and reactions).

Recommended reading

  • Direct vs indirect characterization: How to show and tell
  • Character background: 7 tips to write better backstory
  • Characters of personality: 7 concepts for richer stories

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Nothing shows a man’s character more than what he laughs at. Goethe

Organize and outline character ideas

Use Now Novel’s story dashboard to brainstorm character ideas and get help from a caring critique community.

Now Novel writer

Character types: Roles and parts in stories

7 types of character - infographic

There are many character types, archetypes, and sometimes even stereotypes. Specific kinds of characters go with specific genres (for example, an amateur sleuth belongs in a cozy mystery).

Read a brief overview of character types plus find helpful articles exploring classes of character (and how to write them) in depth:

Overview of common character types

Archetypes are universal types of characters that recur in fiction and mythology.

The Swiss psychoanalytic theorist Carl Jung was instrumental in developing this concept, particularly in The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious .

Key character archetypes and what each values:

  • Caregiver – values service
  • Ruler – values control
  • Artist – values creativity/innovation
  • Innocent – values safety
  • Explorer – values freedom
  • Everyman – values belonging
  • Jester – values pleasure
  • Lover – values intimacy
  • Hero – values mastery
  • Magician – values power
  • Outlaw – values liberation
  • Sage – values knowledge

Learn more about archetypes below and in our detailed look at the 12 Jungian archetypes:

Character archetypes - Now Novel on archetypal characters

Character archetypes: How to enrich your novel’s cast

Learn about archetypal characters and using this concept to finesse goals.

Story archetypes blog post header

Types of stories: 7 archetypes (and ways to use them)

Learn about story archetypes such as ‘Rags to Riches’ and ways to use them.


Stereotypes are clichés that may be harmful or offensive to people with specific identities or histories in how they tend to ignore, oversimplify or ‘flatten’ human complexity. They are often used for ‘edgy’ or politically incorrect humor.

Often they have complex political or even propagandistic undertones. For example, the trope of the ‘angry black woman’ is often criticized for falsely representing BIPOC women as inherently aggressive in a way that dismisses history or the nuances and responsibilities of representation.

Another stereotype that is that sometimes found in writing is that which is concerned with LGBTIQ+ characters . Avoid tropes such as the ‘sissy villain’ or ‘gay best friend’, for instance.

Learn more about avoiding simplistic stock character types: Character tropes: 5 tips to avoid stock types .

Round vs flat characters

‘Round’ or three-dimensional characters are often compared to ‘flat’ characters who don’t have as much change or development.

‘Pip’, the hero of Dickens’ Great Expectations is an example of the round type. He changes as his fortunes and personal wealth change, from a scared orphan crying in a graveyard at the story’s start to a ‘new money’ young man in fancy clothes thanks to a mysterious benefactor.

This character type is typical of a bildungsroman or coming-of-age story like Dickens’ novel. A flat character like Sherlock Holmes may go through diverse story scenarios but tends not to change or develop much in persona. They may have catchphrases they always say, such as ‘elementary, my dear Watson’, or stock phrases such as James Bond’s martini order.

Flat characters are often the comforting constant in a sea of change.


Protagonists or main/primary characters are the primary decision-makers in a story who propel its action.

Stories may have one or more protagonists, and they are often discussed alongside antagonists . A protagonist may be a hero (in that they pursue the greater good or uphold values that are societal norms) or antihero (for example, a protagonist who commits murder like Rodion Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment ).

Learn more about writing strong protagonists:

Protagonist Examples | Now Novel

Protagonist examples: Creating memorable main characters

Learn what makes main characters memorable and how to write protagonists.

creative writing character building

  • Main character writing: 6 ideas for a strong key cast

Learn how to write a main characters with tips to ensure a strong key cast.


Antagonists are primary opponents whose desires compete with or oppose the protagonist’s own.

For example, the stepmother with her jealousy and poison apple in Snow White .

Learn more about writing antagonists:

Antagonist examples from books | Now Novel

Antagonist examples: How to write great adversaries

Learn from antagonists in novels and what they teach us.

creative writing character building

Main antagonists: How to write real opponents

How do you write an opponent who seems real? Find out.

Secondary characters

These are peripheral or important characters who may fulfil important roles to main characters such as:

  • Friend/confidant
  • Mentor/guardian
  • Sidekick/henchman (depending on whether allied to the protagonist or antagonist)
  • Love interest (though this may also be a protagonist, especially if they are a primary viewpoint narrator during the story – more on this below)

The above types of secondary characters are involved secondary characters because they take part in the action.

Non-involved secondary characters include extras (for example the crowd in a stadium, maybe briefly described) and walk-ons (characters who pass through the story and fulfil a set purpose, for example the ‘friendly innkeeper’ type).

Learn more about the uses of background characters: Writing background characters: 5 uses

Genre-specific character types

In addition to the broad types above, there are character types specific to different genres (though not all the types below necessarily appear, for example, a hero might not have a sidekick):

  • Romance: Romantic leads, friends, rivals
  • Comedy: ‘Straight man’ or foil (the serious character who contrasts a comedic part or goof )
  • Fantasy: Hero/heroine, villain, sidekick, guardian/mentor
  • Crime thriller: Detective, police officer, victim/survivor, witness, suspect
  • Mystery: Sleuth/detective (pro or amateur), suspect, lead
  • Science fiction: Scientist, (space) explorer, cyber expert, inventor
  • Action: Hero/heroine, villain, adversary, sidekick, love interest

The treatment of these different character types is often guided by genre. For example, a love interest in an action story may simply provide the protagonist something (or someone) to fight for, to risk losing.

In romance, by contrast, the unfolding romantic relationship is at the center of the story – the action overall revolves around the relationship (and not necessarily beating ‘the bad guys’).

  • Writing a heroic journey: 8 tips for epic arcs
  • Types of antagonists: Creating riveting opponents
  • Creating dynamic characters and static types: 7 ideas
The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always, ‘What does the protagonist want?’ David Mamet

Character ideas: Ways to come up with your cast

Finding character ideas for a story is a lot easier once you have a central idea, your story’s premise or scenario.

Use the ‘Central Idea’ prompt process in Now Novel’s story dashboard to brainstorm and finesse a story idea to start.

Once you have your story idea, to find character ideas and finesse them:

Create character profiles

Think of a character profile like an ID that tells way more than age, gender, birthdate and birthplace.

You could create a PDF for each character and save these to Google Drive and create a spreadsheet with links to each document (our downloadable story PDF grows as your ideas do, with pagination and clear sections for each character).

Organize your character research and brainstorming so that you can refresh your memory on what you’ve already established for your characters easily. This is especially useful if you’re writing a series or epic with a large or revolving cast of characters.

‘Reverse cast’ your story

Look at Pinterest boards or use AI image creation tools like This Person Does Not Exist to find inspiration for the look, feel and style of a character.

Build characters from your scenario

Read through your story idea summary and brainstorm characters whose goals, motivations and conflicts align to your idea (keep reading for more on GMC and how to use it to develop characters).

  • Novel characters: 15 top character creation tips
  • How to write character profiles: 10 tips and a template
  • Character profiles: 5 questions for a detailed cast

Ways to come up with characters - infographic

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

Character development: Creating characters who change

In great stories, who, what, why, where and when change in meaningful ways.

Developing characters ensures your reader will go on a journey with emotional highs and lows.

Learn about core drivers of character development – goal, motivation and conflict – as well as how to create character arcs with structure and satisfying shape in this section.

Character development - 7 elements infographic

Character goals: What the cast of your story wants

Goals in developing characters are crucial. Your characters may have several types of goals as your story progresses. For example:

  • Initial goals: The first steps your characters must take, what they need to achieve in the opening scene of your story
  • Surprise goals: Spur-of-the-moment decisions characters make, new plans that arise out of setbacks, conflicts, and unexpected events
  • End goals: Your characters’ ultimate objectives (such as Frodo destroying the One Ring).

Learn more about characters and desire in storytelling:

Character development - 9 tips for character arcs | Now Novel

Character development: 9 tips for arcs with depth

Learn how to give your character arcs dimension and depth.

creative writing character building

How to develop a character: 7 simple steps

Read seven steps to ensure your characters develop in your story.

Motivations: Why characters want what they do

Motivations are crucial to creating a character and their goals. Why people desire things is intrinsically linked to their broader story, beliefs and emotions.

A despotic king, for example, might demand total obedience because he fears rebellion and wants to stay in power.

Your characters’ motivations might arise from one or more of the following:

  • Beliefs, whether true or false (for example, an archetypal caregiver such as a nurse in WWII may believe in the good of caring for the injured)
  • Backstory and formative experiences (a person may work doubly hard for success or self-sabotage due to what they’ve been through)
  • Basic necessity such as the need for sustenance, freedom, shelter, love, etc – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Personality and values For example the ‘Explorer’ archetype might seek out wild adventure for the thrill of the unknown

Learn more about creating characters with compelling motivations:

Understanding character motivations | Now Novel

Character motivations: 6 questions

Read questions on what drives characters.

creative writing character building

100 character development questions

Find character questionnaires to flesh out arcs.

Conflicts between characters (and within)

Conflict is equally crucial to developing characters in stories. In Greek mythology, Hercules becomes the hero precisely through completing tough tasks that test his ingenuity and resolve.

In this part of this guide, we’ll explore types of conflict that drive character development.

Two conflict types in fiction: Internal and external

There are two broad categories of conflict in stories: Internal conflict, and external conflict.

Internal conflict

Internal conflict is your character’s inner struggle . It may arise from:

  • Contradictory desires (such as ‘being the hero’ versus ‘staying safe’)
  • Flaws or wounds (for example, a dancer who had a bad experience with a teacher may be hesitant to keep pursuing their passion)
  • Beliefs or doubts that impede action (for example, someone who is given a quest or task who does not yet believe in their own ability)

External conflict

External conflict refers to conflict between characters (or between a character and their environment, society, or other external sources). It arises from many sources including:

  • Conflicting desires between characters (for example, a relationship where one spouse wants to emigrate but the other does not)
  • Conflicting goals (for example, a hero must destroy an object that is the antagonist’s only hope of returning to power)
  • Hostility of environment or society (for example, a woman in a patriarchy struggles against the narrow or oppressive gender roles prescribed, like in The Handmaid’s Tale )

How does conflict develop characters?

Conflict develops characters because it:

  • Supplies stakes or ‘worst case scenarios’ should your character fail (for example, an out-of-work character being evicted if they can’t find a job)
  • Makes characters’ path toward victory more uncertain (and thus often requires personal change or mastery)
  • Makes action necessary for resolution: Conflict is unsustainable, forcing characters to act if they are to find peace, shelter, safety or harmony

Learn more about internal and external conflict and character development:

  • External and internal conflict: Examples and tips
  • How to use central conflict and drama to drive your novel
  • Creating villain motivations: Writing real adversaries
  • Writing character backstory that feels real: 5 tips
  • Development of characters: 6 intriguing ways we change
  • Character arc template: 5 steps to strong character arcs
  • How do you write character growth? 7 tips

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Characters and conflict: Driving change and stakes

We examined the two main types of conflict between characters above. In this section learn about types of conflict that could drive your story’s action.

Key types of conflict between characters include:

  • A struggle with self (often called ‘man vs self’). Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a classic example of this kind (a legal practitioner investigates a man with a dangerous, urge-compelled alter ego).
  • Person vs person conflict (also known as ‘man vs man’). This is a very common type of conflict in epic fantasy in which a hero faces off against a powerful magician or tyrant (e.g. Frodo vs Sauron in Tolkien’s famous fantasy cycle).
  • Person vs nature is a classic type of conflict common in survival and adventure stories (such as, for example, The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, or the survival drama 127 Hours ).
  • Person vs society Some characters face not just a single foe but a society in opposition to fundamental desires or needs. A classic example of this is the ostracized Hester Prynne in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter .

Learn more about types of conflict, external and internal, and how to use them to create interesting adversity in stories:

creative writing character building

Using conflicts in a story: 6 helpful conflict examples

Read about 6 core types of conflict in fiction.

creative writing character building

Making external conflict compelling: 6 ideas

Learn ways to make external conflicts in stories engaging.

Learn more about types of conflict your characters may encounter:

  • Person vs society: 6 types of story conflict
  • 6 intriguing conflict types in fiction: Man vs nature
  • 6 conflict types in fiction: Man vs self
This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. Toni Morrison

Describing characters: Bringing fictive people to life

Character description is intertwined with character development. The stories of our lives and experiences are written on our bodies and in our speech. In this section of this guide, learn how to create vivid, varied character descriptions.

Ways to describe characters

There are almost infinitely varied ways to describe your characters, including:

  • Physical features such as faces, bodies, the clothing your characters wear, the personal ways different characters might style the same outfit
  • Movement and gesture such as posture, gait, habitual poses and expressions
  • Voice including your characters’ vocal timbre and pitch, diction (how formally or informally they speak), accent and dialect. Written characters differ from film because narration provides voice too, not only spoken dialogue (or the occasional voiceover)
  • Actions your characters’ actions describe their personality because they reveal personality traits (such as loving drama or being loyal, valuing others’ trust or deceiving whoever they can to get ahead)

See how to describe characters in varied ways with the help of these resources:

How to describe - complete guide header

How to describe to immerse readers (complete guide)

Read a complete guide to writing description with examples from varied genres.

creative writing character building

How to describe a person vividly: 8 ways

Learn how to write descriptions that build personality and more.

Physical description

  • How to describe eyes in a story: 7 simple tips
  • Character posture: How to describe characters’ bearing
  • How to describe hands: 6 ways to make characters real
  • How to describe clothing in a story (with examples)
  • Describing characters: How to describe faces imaginatively
  • Character mannerisms: Describing character quirks and tics

How to describe voice and speech

  • Realistic dialogue: Creating characters’ speech patterns
  • Character voices: How to write persona using voice
  • How to write accents and dialects: 6 tips

How to create characters’ personalities

  • What are good character traits? 7 helpful attributes
  • Character flaw list: 30 intriguing character flaws

General characterization

  • How do you write good character description? 5 techniques
  • Direct characterization: 6 tips for precise description
  • Indirect characterization: Revealing characters subtly
  • How to create a believable character: 8 tactics
  • How to introduce characters: 6 ways to be memorable
  • Characterization examples: 5 ways to reveal characters

How to Write Scenes Free Guide


Read a guide to writing scenes with purpose that move your story forward.

Narration and POV: Who tells your story?

The narrator is the person or voice telling the story.

If your narrator is an involved character (and not a neutral narrating fly-on-the-wall voice), we say the story has an involved narrator . When you have an involved narrator, how your narrator tells the story (their language, voice, tone) builds characterization, too .

Point of view and types of narrator

Point of view (abbreviated to POV) refers to both whose point of view the story is told from, and the person used (for example, first-person narration using ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘my’ versus third person using ‘he’, ‘she’, plural ‘they’ or gender neutral).

The point of view you choose for your story has specific character effects.

For example, if you use a first-person narrator, you can only tell the reader what that character knows, assumes, or makes up, while they are the viewpoint narrator (the person currently telling the story). Unlike an omniscient narrator , the first-person narrator cannot share other people’s private thoughts (unless they are a mind-reader).

How to create characterization via narration:

  • Think about worldview or outlook: What is your narrator’s personality, politics, value system? How does this affect what they share?
  • Bring in backstory or vocation: A visual artist may be more specific than others when describing colors, for example, or may use more metaphors borrowed from visual art
  • Think about demographics: Where is your character from, and what is their age, class position, gender identity? Are any other demographic details significant? These may inflect their narrative voice ( or their narrative voice might not immediately give away one or more of these details)

Learn more about ways to build characterization via narration:

  • How to write deep POV: 8 tips and examples
  • How to write multiple points of view in a novel: 8 tips
  • Point of view: Complete guide to POV in stories
  • Building a bold narrator’s voice: 5 methods
  • The unreliable narrator: Creating surprise in your story
In a portrait, you have room to have a point of view and to be conceptual with a picture. The image may not be literally what’s going on, but it’s representative. Annie Leibovitz

Character questions: Prompts to populate your story

Character questions and questionnaires provide a useful way to delve deeper into your characters.

In our writing webinars, Now Novel writing coach Romy Sommer compares what you include about your character in your story to the tip of an iceberg. What the reader sees might not be everything you’ve dreamed and invented. Yet beneath the surface, there’s that depth, that anchoring.

Character questionnaire example

The first version of Now Novel’s story dashboard (revised 2018) included 15 categories of character questions to flesh out ideas for your cast:

  • Demographics : E.g. ‘How old is this character?’
  • Appearance : E.g. ‘In what style do they wear their hair?’
  • Character specific : E.g. ‘Why is this character dissatisfied?’
  • Work: E.g. ‘What do they do for a living?’
  • Relaxation: E.g. ‘What are this character’s hobbies?’
  • Food: E.g. ‘What kind of food do they like eating?
  • Stuff: E.g. ‘What would they grab if their home were on fire?’
  • Home: E.g. ‘Describe their living space’
  • Family: E.g. ‘Are their parents still alive?’
  • Childhood: E.g. ‘Did they have a happy or unhappy childhood? Explain.’
  • Friends: E.g. ‘Who is their best friend?’
  • Relationships: E.g. ‘What is the thing they argue about most in relationships?’
  • Money: E.g. ‘What is their relationship to money like?’
  • Fears: E.g. ‘What is their greatest fear?’
  • Demeanor/personality: E.g. ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how annoying do others find them?’

Not all of the above questions will be relevant for your character. Yet filling in questionnaires such as the above is a great way to get to know your characters as though they are real (and avoid the caricatures Hemingway warns about).

Read more questions to develop your characters:

  • Character development questions: Building character arcs
  • 6 creative writing exercises for rich character
  • 50 creative writing prompts to enrich your craft

What is a character writing question you’ve been thinking about? Share it in the comments. Start brainstorming characters now and outline and draft scenes with your character outlines in a helpful sidebar in the Now Novel Writing Pad or in Google Docs with our Docs add-on .

Now Novel is a great platform for all writers to check out – especially for plotting, brainstorming, characterisation and even world building. Their customer service is top notch and I highly recommend NN! – MJ


Related Posts:

  • Writing fantasy: Creating a spellbinding story…
  • Character archetypes: How to enrich your novel's cast
  • Tags character development , how to create characters

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Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

11 replies on “Character writing: Complete guide to creating your cast”

Many thanks. Had I read this post before writing my competition entry, i would have known better how to write a vivid description of a person.

It’s a pleasure, Ohita. Sorry for the delayed response – Disqus’ notification system is a little erratic. Glad you enjoyed it.

You should write a book about writing a book:))

That was gooooooooooooooooood!

yeah, I totally agree with @Mari@mariefeierabend:disqus , you gotta make a book about it!

btw recently seen this one too actually couldn’t resist the temptation to share ahahahha I liked it so much too)

[…] and particular. Instead of describing a character who ‘loves freedom’, for example, describe a character’s actions and experiences that demonstrate this love of freedom. This gives readers a more visual and empathetic […]

Do or have any advice for characters who are based off of a real person?

Hi Katie, thank you for your question. It’s quite a broad one but I would say:

  • Do your research: What can you find out about the person that may surprise readers?
  • Be careful with living people – if the person is still living, you could run into issues around privacy/defamation (if the character does anything unsavory, for example). If necessary, change enough details (particularly the name) to make the identity of the person more ambiguous.
  • Make a list of features or a character profile as though they were a fictional character. Think about their greatest strengths and flaws, their backstory and what their core goals, motivations and conflicts may be leading into your story.

[…] Read advice on how to write better characters. […]

I like to make characters

how can you make a character. thank you ms. yanezz

Hi Stephanie, thank you for your question. Is there a specific aspect of character creation you’re finding challenging? One way to find character ideas Now Novel writing coach Romy suggested in a webinar was to create a Pinterest board and pin images of interesting faces and people as character inspirations, and to use these images as starting points for brainstorming personality details, goals, motivations, etc.

You can find all of our character-writing articles here .

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How to create vivid characters for your novel or screenplay

Character profile for a novel

Follow this step-by-step guide to learn the modern process of developing fictional characters in Milanote, a free tool used by top creatives.

How to create a character in 8 easy steps

One of the most integral parts of any story is crafting relatable and vivid characters. As writer Ernest Hemingway said, “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.”

The character profile is a popular technique for developing genuine personas for your story. Depending on the project or person, some stories are born out of a character, while others begin with a plot that in turn shapes the characters. A detailed character profile will help to shape a narrative as well as provide a handy reference point for their personality traits, backstory, goals, flaws, and challenges.

Whether you’re developing a character for your novel, screenplay, video game , or comic, this guide will take you through every step to bring them to life.

1. Start with a character archetype

A character might start as a bundle of random ideas, traits and plot points from a story outline, so it’s important to bring everything together in one place. A character archetype can help narrow your focus. There are twelve common archetypes or personas that we recognize across literature, mythology, and the human experience: The Innocent, Everyman, Hero, Outlaw, Explorer, Creator, Ruler, Magician, Lover, Caregiver, Jester, and Sage.

Archetypes provide guidelines for behaviors, emotions, and actions. For example, the Explorer is naturally curious, restless, and driven to push boundaries, such as detective Sherlock Holmes or Huckleberry Finn. Experiment with your archetype—layer characteristics or even transform them from one to another as the storyline progresses.

Photo of a character for a novel

Create a new board for your character profile.

Create a new board

Drag a board out from the toolbar. Give it a name, then double click to open it.

Add an image to represent your character.

Upload a file or document  

Click the "Upload file" button or just drag a file onto your board. You can add images, logos, documents, videos, audio, and much more.

2. Add specific characteristics

Once you've defined an initial archetype, you can begin to shape the character and make them original. Consider the emotional connection between your audience and your character, and work towards the desired outcome. You may find that switching the age and gender of a character can lead to very different responses from your reader. Here are a few other examples you could use to create a unique character:

  • Adventurous and thrill-seeking
  • Absent-minded and often lost in thought
  • Compassionate and empathetic
  • Obsessed with solving crossword puzzles or riddles
  • Intelligent and analytical
  • Witty and sarcastic
  • Ambitious and driven
  • Introverted and introspective
  • Charismatic and charming
  • Meticulous and detail-oriented

Writers character profile guide step02

Add a note to describe their charactaristics.

Drag a note card onto your board

Start typing then use the formatting tools in the left-hand toolbar.

3. Build the backstory

Your character's backstory describes the journey they have taken up to this point. It allows you to explore their fears, weaknesses, and motivations and to define their purpose. You can explain the character's methods and evaluations—why they act the way that they do, the choices they make, and how it drives the individual forward. Are they making progress towards their goal, or making things worse?

To really round out the character, give them a personality that stretches beyond the story itself. Some aspects of their personality will not make it into the story but will help to inform the decisions that they make. Here are a few areas to consider when crafting an interesting backstory:

  • Childhood and family dynamics
  • Traumatic or impactful events
  • Educational background and achievements
  • Obstacles, challenges, or setbacks
  • Secrets, hidden aspects, or unresolved issues
  • Relationships with friends, partners, or mentors
  • Goals, aspirations, and dreams
  • Hobbies, interests, or talents
  • Values, morals, and ethical code

Adding a backstory to a character profile

Add a note to describe their backstory.

4. Give them quirks, faults, and flaws

Your character should come from an authentic place. That means that the character probably has some contradictions that make them a little out of the ordinary. If a character is too simplistic, it can feel cliched. Character flaws such as overconfidence, impatience, or recklessness can add new dimensions to a hero and make them feel more relatable. Here are a few other examples to consider:

  • Obsessive-compulsive tendencies (arranging things symmetrically, fear of germs)
  • Chronic lateness or forgetfulness
  • Collects unusual items (rubber ducks, vintage keychains)
  • Impulsive decision-making without considering consequences
  • Has a habit of telling elaborate and overly complicated stories
  • Overly critical or judgmental of others
  • Quick to anger or easily provoked
  • Overly trusting or easily manipulated by others

Adding quirks and flaws to a character profile

Add a note to describe their quirks and flaws.

5. Give your character an arc

A believable character grows and changes as your story evolves. Just like real people, they adapt and respond to life's events.

Consider where your character starts out and how they change alongside developments in the story. How do they overcome their initial obstacles? For example, do they learn new skills, gain a fresh perspective or make new relationships that lead to their success?

A character arc

Add notes to describe the change in your character.

Start typing then use the formatting tools in the left hand toolbar.

6. Add visual references

Even if you're writing a novel, visual references and inspiration can help bring your character to life. There are lots of fantastic sites where you can find great visual inspiration for free, like Pinterest or Google Images . You can also create a character moodboard at this stage to help explore all aspects of their appearance. See our guide on creating moodboards for a novel to learn more.

Visual references in a character profile

Use the built-in image library.

Use the built-in image library

Search over 500,000 beautiful photos powered by Unsplash then drag images straight onto your board.

Add image files to your board.

Click the "Upload file" button or just drag a file onto your board. You can add images, logos, documents, videos, audio and much more.

7. Organise & refine

Once you have everything you need, it's time to organize your content into logical topics. There's no right or wrong way to do this. The goal is to make your character profile easy to scan and reference as you're writing the story.

Character profile for a novel

Use Columns to group related content

Drag a column onto your board

Name it, then drag any relevant notes or images into your column

8. Create the rest of your characters

It's important not to fall into the trap of giving just one character too much responsibility for the drama in your story. Work on additional characters that compliment and contrast the traits of your main character. You can repeat the above process to develop a whole cast of characters that help bring your novel to life. Creating a character relationship map can be a great way to visualize their relationships (good or bad).

Map of characters in a novel

Use the Character Relationship Map template

You're done!

Now that you've created a unique fictional character, you have a great reference to use while writing your story. Use the template below to start inventing your character or read our full guide on how to plan a novel .

brett warren

Create your character

Get started for free with Milanote's easy to use character profile template.

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Building & Revealing Characters

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Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

By now, you’ve assembled a great deal of information about your characters. You can see them, you know what they’re thinking, and you know what they want. But conveying this information to your reader is its own unique challenge.

Just as you can’t rely on mere exposition to explain what happened before your story, you can’t preface your story with an interview with your character. Character is something you build throughout the course of your story. Recall that major characters, like your protagonist, are ones that will change during the course of the story; who they are in the beginning is not who they’ll be in the end.

That said, you’ll want to give the reader an impression of who the character is at the outset of the story. Fitzgerald uses the first-person narrator, Nick Carraway, to gradually reveal information about Gatsby; the reader learns more information about Gatsby as Nick learns about him. You might use minor characters to reveal information about your character if you’re writing from a point-of-view that is not the protagonist.

The protagonist must also be likeable (at least to an extent). If your reader cannot identify with your character, cannot picture themselves in the character’s shoes, then they won’t want to read on. While fiction is plot-driven, the reader isn’t going to care about your plot unless they care about your protagonist. You have to make the reader root for your character; we have to want them to succeed (as with Gatsby).

This doesn’t mean that your character should be perfect—quite the opposite, actually. We don’t want to read about perfect people; if a character is the most beautiful and talented person in the world, and if she has everything they want, there’s no story there. Besides, nobody wants to read about a character who’s perfect.

You may recall that every character in William Shakespeare’s plays has a “fatal flaw”: a personality flaw that will cause the character to fail, that Achilles’ heel that the antagonist will exploit. When you are building your own characters, think about what sort of flaws they have. The flaw should make sense for the character, as in, it should be related to their background/beliefs. You can’t assign flaws arbitrarily—the flaw should arise from the circumstances of your character’s life, where they are, who they know, how they were raised and how they’ve been treated.

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Character Development: How to Write Strong Characters in Your Novel

These 5 steps for character development will show you how to create strong characters in your novel. Use these tips, exercises and activities to start building lovable and relatable characters your readers are sure to enjoy.

character development resources

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Strong character development is one of the most important aspects of writing a fiction novel.  With strong character development, your characters will be more memorable, and most importantly, your readers will be able to relate well to them, just as if they were a real live human being.

With a little bit of experience and practice using these character development activities, you’ll soon master the art of character development in no time!

character development in your novel

In this post we’ll share with you the 5 steps to learning how to create memorable characters in your novel, along with some practical character development exercises to help you gain practice and confidence.

What is Character Development? Why Does it Matter?

In order to fully understand how to build strong characters in your novel, you first need to have a good understanding of what character development is – and why it is so important in the first place!

So what does character development mean exactly?

While there are many different interpretations for the definition of character development out there, I define character development as this:

Character Development Definition: The process in creating a persona in a story AND the changes this persona goes through during the course of the story.

The key here is to realize the character personality development process is not just the act of sitting down and conjuring up an imaginary person – it is also showing your readers how this persona changes and transforms throughout the course of the story.

Who Can Be a Character In My Novel?

The characters of your novel are in most instances the people who the story is about. You will typically have between 1-2 main characters and a handful of minor supporting characters in your book.

Do you know the differences between main and minor characters? Learn More Here: What You Need to Know About Main & Supporting Characters .

Your main characters are usually the people in the book who are central to the story. If you are writing in the first person, the story may be told from their point of view. Without the main character, there would be no story.

Supporting characters are people who add dynamics to your story. They work to compliment the main character – and often need to add to the overall conflict to the story. A supporting character is not as critical as a main character, but the story should still need to rely on this person in order to be the same.

If you can completely remove a character out of the book without affecting the plot, you may want to reconsider whether you even need that character in the first place!

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Of Course, Not All Characters Are Human

Of course, I say “people” here – but characters can be any type of animate being. Animals, mythological creatures, and advanced artificial life forms are all candidates as main characters, depending on what type of genre you may be writing.

For example, when writing children’s literature , it’s not uncommon for many of the characters to be animals. One example of a non-human character would be Peter, the main rabbit character in the story  Peter Rabbit   by Beatrix Potter.

Even supporting characters do not need to be humans – many can be animals and other types of creatures. While we are on the topic of rabbits in fiction stories, one such case is the rabbit in the much loved classic Alice in Wonderland .

characters in alice in wonderland

There are not a lot of rules on what a character can and can’t be – the key to making a character is all about the development of character – and these are all the personality traits and behaviors that make the character come to life!

Now that we understand what character development is and who our characters can be, we’re ready to get onto the 5 steps of strong character development!

Here are the 5 Steps of Strong Character Development to Create Memorable Characters in Your Novel:

These 5 steps will guide you along creating realistic and relatable personas in your story – and ensure that your character fully grows throughout the plot!

Step 1: Identify Your Characters & Their Roles in the Story

The first step may be an obvious one, but an essential one! You need to know who will be the main people in your book. It’s important to identify not just who they are – but also what their roles are in the book.

For example, if you’re writing a story similar to Peter Rabbit, you would identify first there is a rabbit named Peter. You may even consider some basic personality traits, such as being troublemaker or not being very good at listening to directions.

However, it’s important you also identify the roles of the character in the story. Peter is a main character, but you need to think about what role he plays in the overall storyline.

In the story, Peter is a young bunny. He is the son to the mother rabbit, and a brother of his sisters Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail. This adds to the overall character development of Peter, because if he were a grown-up rabbit in the story without a mother worrying about him or perfectly behaved sisters to compare and contrast with, you would miss a lot of the conflict in the story.

Even minor absent characters can have important roles. Continuing with the Peter Rabbit story, Peter’s father was turned into stew after being caught in the farmer’s garden. This “raises the stakes” in the novel on why it is such a bad idea to sneak into the garden in the first place!

We never see Peter’s father in the story, since he has passed on, but the introduction of him as a character adds to the suspense and conflict when Peter decides to pay the farmer’s garden a visit. Likewise, Peter’s sisters are relatively small supporting characters – however, without them being there we would not realize just how well-behaved a young rabbit could be compared to the bad decisions made by Peter!

These roles are classic archetypes we see quite often not only in books, but even our own human lives. Most of us who grew up with siblings can relate to a time where we were the “bad one” or the “good one”, as this is a common relationship dynamic between siblings and the parent-child relationship.

Remember, dynamic means stimulating activity, change or progress. Taking note of common relationship dynamics can be quite helpful in identifying how each character’s role is going to influence the outcome of your story and the overall growth of your main character.

An Important Note About Using Archetypes and Stereotypes: Avoid Cliches!

While using generic relationships between archetype characters can be helpful to identify roles and dynamics between people in your book, try to avoid character cliches while writing when possible!

avoid cliches in character development stereotypes

For example, many fairy tales have the evil step-mother – a wicked woman who despises or is jealous of the step-daughter. This character has been “done to death” as the saying goes – and likewise will make your story seem uninspiring.

If a character is a cliche stereotype, it will likely turn readers off, especially if they know the stereotypes are not usually true about individuals.

To overcome this, try changing your character to have some behaviors or motivations that are NOT the stereotype. Maybe the evil step mother is not cruel and narcissistic, but instead she’s seen as “evil” because she is too kind, helpful and overbearingly loving to a reluctant step-child.

If you find yourself working with common archetypes , ask yourself: What can I do that will add a twist? Can I think of any real-life examples of this stereotype? What would make the person a unique individual and not quite as predictable?

Try This Character Development Exercise:

In this exercise for step 1, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are your characters?
  • What Roles do they play?
  • What is their relationship to the other characters?
  • What are the relationship dynamics between each character?
  • Does my character fit into any stereotype? What traits will help avoid any cliche’s and ensure my character is not flat or predictable?

Step 2: Get Inside Your Character’s Head

The next step, once we’ve identified each character and the role they play in the storyline, is to really get to know your character inside and out. While you will want to make a note of their physical appearance and main personality traits, it can be helpful to dig in even deeper.

Using Character Development Questions can be very helpful for understanding your character’s quirks – and their main motivations. Even if you do not use all of the details in your story (and you probably shouldn’t!) – it is still a worthwhile exercise to practice.

Answering questions about your character will give you as the writer a complete picture of the person and influencing elements of the story. Knowing how your character might react when angry for example will give you a starting place when you are ready to write the major rising conflict scenes.

Remember: It’s Not Just Who They Are in the Beginning – It’s Who They Become

Because development of characters is just as much about how they grow and change from the beginning of the story to the end, having an intimate knowledge of little details can make a big difference at how well you are able to convey this to your readers.

For example, let’s say you have an idea for a main character named Jane who is a rather shy, timid, middle aged woman who has all but given up on life. After being fired from her last job, she is desperate for any type of work, so accepts a job as a cafeteria worker at a tough inner city school.

The story of transformation can happen in a number of ways, depending on what story you want to tell. Maybe in the story Jane will be forced to speak up on an important issue on behalf of the students. As the writer, you could then show the readers how she transforms from being shy and depressed to finding something she is passionate about and building her confidence.

Or, you could have Jane fall in love with the principal and has to learn to believe in herself enough to initiate a conversation that leads to that first date. Or, maybe Jane finds out the school is planning to poison the students during lunch next Tuesday and only she can save everyone.

Whatever the plot may be, the important thing is that your character goes through changes in their personality and behavior – in a realistic and believable way.

If you understand the little details about Jane and why she is the way she is and how her inner mind works, you’ll be better prepared to write about how she changes in a way your readers can understand and relate to.

Step 2 Exercise: Download the Character Development Worksheet:

Download our character development worksheet and answer the questions for each of your main characters.

Once this step is complete, take some time to think about how your character will grow and transform by the end of the novel. What will change about your characters?

Step 3: Research, Research, Research

Research can be a writer’s worst nightmare – especially if you’re using the excuse to research as a procrastination method to avoid writing!

However, doing your initial research about your characters before you start writing is very important, because it can actually save you the time-sucking distraction of trying to find information mid-sentence or mid-chapter.

You should research as much as possible for anything you do not have direct experience with. Even if it is a topic you know a lot about, you should still try to research and fact-check just to make sure you have accurate information.

For example, let’s say you are writing a novel where your main character is a cardiologist at a busy hospital. Not only would you need to research some basic information on cardiology as a profession, but you would need to make sure you are aware of medical customs and laws where the hospital is located.

Even if you were the office assistant to a cardiologist as a past job, if the story is set in a different state or country, there will likely be many differences that readers who know better would be able to spot as being inaccurate.

Historical novels are another example of where a lot of research might be necessary. If you’re writing a story set in the revolutionary war time period, it would be important to make sure everything you write is historically accurate. Having mistakes about dates, people, places or events would surely cause some readers to become upset!

Yes, There is Such a Thing as Too Much Research

Of course, you do not want to spend too much time in research, because research can lead you to become very distracted.

Do as much research as you can beforehand, but if you’ve spent more than 2 months researching and have not written a single word yet, you are using research as an excuse to not write!

Step 3 Character Development Activity: Get Busy Researching!

Try one of these methods to gather research for the characters in your novel:

Browse Forums & Discussion Groups: Facebook, Reddit and topic specific forums can be quite helpful here. For example, if you were writing a story about a guitar player, you might want to spend some time reading the discussions at , or at the very least joining a guitar related Facebook group.

Interview Someone: If you are writing a story about a nurse, find a friend who is a nurse who you can interview to learn about some of their day-to-day activities. Is your main character a college student? Find a college student to interview!

Step 4: Strong Dialogue = Stronger Character Development

Dialogue is an important part of almost every story. The way your character talks and interacts in conversations with others can make a big difference on how well your audience can connect with the person or creature.

There are a number of factors that can help you build strong dialogue between characters , but one important key is staying consistent.

Consistency is very important. Staying consistent with your characterization of each person is what makes the people in your novel memorable and helps readers identify with the character.

If your character is a conservative and traditional person and then all of a sudden out of nowhere starts swearing and dropping profanities, this might not only cause confusion – it could turn off some readers who related to the character’s traditional values earlier in the story.

It’s also important to make sure through dialogue your characters are distinctively different. For example, if you have the characters David and Daniel, you would want to make sure each has unique identifying phrases, tone of voice, and mannerisms while talking.

Otherwise, your readers may have to go back and reread a section as they try to remember which character is David and which one is Daniel – and that’s NOT a good sign!

Step 4 Exercise: Dialogue Writing Checklist

After you write a scene which contains dialogue, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the dialogue consistent to the characters personality traits and behaviors?
  • Is the dialogue distinctive enough that it is easy to distinguish between multiple characters?
  • Does the dialogue stay true to what someone would expect of the character?
  • Is the dialogue realistic for the character I am trying to portray?

Step 5: Show, Don’t Tell

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “show, don’t tell” as one of the main writing rules.

Well, it may be cliche, but it is a very good tip for helping you write a convincing story with strong characters!

This is an example of telling:

Mindy couldn’t believe she would never be at the beach house again. Tears welled in her eyes while she walked away.

This is an example of showing:

Mindy locked up the beach house one final time and slipped the key into her pocket. She looked towards the edge of the ocean through puffy and blurry eyes. She didn’t think it was possible to cry any more than she already had, but the tears came on again anyways, bursting out of her like a fierce and unexpected storm over the ocean.

Now, I just made these two examples up, so they are nowhere near “perfect” of course – but for example’s sake hopefully you can see a big difference between the two.

The first one doesn’t really give a lot of detail, nor does it make us feel emotionally connected in any way to the story. We’re not really sure what’s happening.

With the second example, we are more descriptive – Mindy is looking at the ocean through puffy, blurry eyes and then comparing the outburst of tears like an unexpected ocean storm.

Making use of body language and feelings is very important when you are writing and will help you more effectively convey your message to your audience. When your readers can visualize a scene while they read and can relate to what the person might be feeling or experiencing, it is easier for them to be attached to the story.

It can take some practice to fully master the concept of “show, don’t tell”, but the good news is the more you write the easier it gets!

Step 5 Exercise: 1 Paragraph 3 Ways

Take something you have recently written and now rewrite it in 3 different ways – even if you are already confident it shows and does not tell. Try to use different ways to describe the character’s actions, thoughts, and feelings.

Here are three ways you can rewrite one paragraph:

  • Write the paragraph using vivid descriptive detail – include a literary device such as a metaphor or simile to describe a thought or action
  • Write the paragraph with as few as words as possible. How can you convey the same emotion, tone, and message with fewer details?
  • Write the paragraph as dialogue between two characters.

It might seem redundant to do this, but this simple act of rewriting one simple paragraph in three different ways can sometimes yield interesting results!

Character Development Writing Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

It doesn’t have to be difficult to practice character development in writing – and in many ways, it can be one of the fun and exciting parts of the process when writing a novel .

When you are able to convey your characters effectively, it will help your audience connect with the story and be drawn into reading about what happens next.

Taking some time to research and practice these creative character development activities and exercises can be a very helpful way to get on the right track of becoming a successful author.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Do you have any questions about character development? What techniques do you practice to help create realistic and strong characters? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Chelle Stein wrote her first embarrassingly bad novel at the age of 14 and hasn't stopped writing since. As the founder of ThinkWritten, she enjoys encouraging writers and creatives of all types.

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Last updated on Nov 04, 2022

8 Character Development Exercises to Write 3D Characters

Even the most fast-paced, action-driven novels need compelling characters to engage readers. Of course, readers will never “get to know” a character if the author doesn’t understand who they are and what is driving them first. To this end, we’re about to get up close and personal with a few character development exercises.

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PRO-TIP:  If you're at the beginning stages of creating characters and haven't picked a name yet, this character name generator may come in handy. Or, if you want some further inspiration, you can use our plot generator which will randomly assign basic motivations for your character.

1. Play a game of Truth and Dare with your characters 

Most of us remember “truth or dare” from childhood sleepovers. Some would bravely declare “DARE!” and wait for the inevitably embarrassing challenge. Others would hazard a “truth…?” and wait nervously in their sleeping bags while the challenger mulled over which deeply provoking and juicy question to ask.

To dive deeper into your character’s emotional depths, ask a round of questions — both probing and seemingly innocuous alike. (Hey, you never know when your character’s favorite choice of ice cream topping might come in handy!) We recommend downloading our free character profile template — with the help of this worksheet, you'll be raring to go.



Reedsy’s Character Profile Template

A story is only as strong as its characters. Fill this out to develop yours.

And if you need additional help, these questionnaires will provide solid inspiration for now:

Arthur Aron’s 36 Questions That Lead to Love “Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?” “Would you like to be famous? In what way?” “What is your most treasured memory?”

The Proust Questionnaire “What is your idea of perfect happiness?” “What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?” “What do you consider your greatest achievement?”

2. Put your character in the Trolley Problem

How a person reacts to a difficult situation can be very revealing — and your character’s fundamental goal will inform how they respond to challenges.

Develop your characters further by placing them in a situation where they are faced with a challenge. For conflict inspiration, look no further than these classic moral dilemmas (and, of course, analyze them from the perspective of your character):

The Robin Hood Problem

Your character is an eyewitness to a crime.

A man has robbed a bank, but instead of keeping the money for himself, he donates it to an orphanage that can now afford to feed, clothe, and care for its children. You know who committed the crime. If you go to the authorities with the information, there's a good chance the money will be returned to the bank, leaving a lot of kids in need. What does your character do?

  • Turn the robber in. Stealing is wrong, end of story.
  • Keep the information to yourself because the money is going to a good cause.

The Trolley Problem

There is a trolley running down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track and cannot move. Next to your character is a lever with the power to lead the trolley down a different track. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that one. What does your character do?

  • Nothing. The five people die.

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Jot down what might be going through your character's head as they consider the potential consequences of their actions. For instance, if your character decides not to pull the lever in the trolley example, they might imagine explaining to people that there wasn't enough time to reach the lever, and pretend the outcome was out of their hands. If they are leaning towards pulling the lever, they might be swayed by the idea of dealing with one set of grieving family members as opposed to five.

And for an extra twist, try putting your character into a different role in the dilemma (i.e. in the trolley problem, have your character be the train driver or stuck on the track.) You can read this post to learn more about types of character conflict  — and if you'd like more conflict-ripe situations, head here .



How to Develop Characters

In 10 days, learn to develop complex characters readers will love.

3. Dangle your character from the edge of a conflict

Humans are highly resistant to change — for a character to believably undergo a personal journey that substantially alters them, something HUGE and specific must happen to them. This event doesn't have to happen in your story, but once you can identify your character’s limits, you can determine what is required to create a potential change in their fundamental nature .

character development exercises

At the start of A Christmas Carol , Ebenezer Scrooge is a self-involved miser. He has alienated himself from those around him and lacks empathy, even for his poor clerk, Bob Cratchit, who can barely feed his own children. However, at the novel's end, Scrooge is redeemed as a generous, lively friend. What event inspired this total 180 in his character? The visit from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future — and the first-hand knowledge of how his actions have negatively impacted all those around him.

For this exercise, determine what this catalyst for change might be by considering situations or attributes that feel counterintuitive. For instance, if your character is a Good Samaritan, it is unlikely they would commit a crime. What would have to be at stake for this unlikely situation to happen — and for a core part of your character to change?

Putting your character into context

When we crack open a novel, the main character’s current, overarching goal is the reason the story exists for us to read. However, a believable character is not one that has burst into being on Page 1. A compelling character will have external influences and a past that informs their present and the crux of their internal journey.

Consider Magneto of the X-Men series. He is a “villain” who believes that mutants are superior to humankind and should therefore dominate. However, a look into Magneto’s past reveals that he was born into a German-Jewish family during the holocaust, and that their abhorrent treatment by the Nazis lead him to believe that humankind and conflict are inseparable. Therefore, in response, it becomes his goal to protect the mutant race from experiencing similar atrocities “at all costs.”

The following character development exercises will allow you to not only get a more thorough picture of your character’s life, but also to zero in on the significant influences that have shaped who your character is, at this moment in time.

4. Create a timeline of your character’s life

Create a timeline of the significant moments of your character’s life. Like many authors, you can use post-it notes or a big whiteboard to visualize your character’s life. With this creative writing exercise, you can easily move or add events until you feel your character has a well-developed history.

After you’ve finished the timeline, distill it into the top 5-10 moments that have shaped your character. For instance, if loss is a thematically important part of your book, perhaps a significant part of your character’s past is when they lost a grandparent as a child.

5. Write about friends gossiping about your character

In The Great Gatsby , before we meet the novel’s eponymous character, we hear of him. When Nick Carraway, the narrator, first attends one of Gatsby’s famous parties in the hopes of meeting the mysterious millionaire, it takes a while for Nick to find him. During this time, Nick becomes privy to a host of information about Gatsby. And while it is unclear what is fact or fiction — such as the rumor that Gatsby once killed a man — we get a sense of what other characters think of him.

character development exercises

Establishing how your character is perceived by others is a great way to give them greater context. It can provide the author with expectations to subvert for the reader and add an interesting mystique to the character. In the case of Gatsby, it gives him almost a mythical sense. And as the novel continues, it is revealed that this “mythology” is intentional, as Gatsby himself lives life as a character of his own creation.

To give the Gatsby Method a go, write a scene in which your character is only present through candid descriptions of him/her by others.

Bringing your character to life

Once you’ve developed the internal motivations and external influences that drive your character's arc , you need to figure out how you’re going to convey this information. For your protagonist to shine through the page with subtlety, and without the need for long-winded exposition, they need to have their own voice and distinctive physicality, regardless of which narration perspective your novel includes. Try the following character development exercise to get a better idea of your character’s voice.

6. Ask your character your favorite icebreaker questions

Think about it: how many times have you been asked in one form or another, “So, tell me about yourself?” It’s a classic ice-breaker question, and, these days, with social media and the overwhelming variety of ways for us to “present ourselves” to the world, the stakes of “tell me about yourself” have never been higher. Of course, we change the way we answer this question based on who we’re talking to.

Further chip away at your character and establish how they present themselves to others by imagining how they would briefly describe themselves in the following situations:

  • In a job interview
  • On a first date
  • Catching up with an old friend
  • Flirting with someone at a party
  • In their Twitter bio
  • At the border between the US and Mexico

7. Use body language to show your character’s personality traits

When you meet someone, you do not start by announcing your height, weight, hair, and eye color, so please do not introduce your character to readers like this. But how to avoid describing looks and physicality without chunks of exposition ?

Consider this line from James Joyce’s Ulysses : “He looked in Stephen's face as he spoke. A light wind passed his brow, fanning softly his fair uncombed hair and stirring silver points of anxiety in his eyes.”

Joyce takes advantage of a moment of action to shed light on Stephen’s looks and his anxious demeanor.

Try your hand at conveying your character through action by first writing a list of physical traits that apply to your character. Next, with that list at hand, write a scene where something is happening — whether it’s a conversation, laundry-folding, cooking, etc. Weave references to your character’s physicality into the action.

8. Test your characters in situations from writing prompts

Sometimes a bad case of writer’s block boils down to a broken connection between you and your protagonist, and the solution can be a change of scenery. Not for you — for your character! Writing prompts are a good way to get the creative juices flowing and can help you clear out the block so your character can continue down your story’s path.

For a weekly supply of fresh writing prompts, head here .

Only once you have acquired a thorough understanding of your protagonist will a compelling and realistic character shine through the page. However, there is disagreement in the world of writing communities regarding what information is or is not relevant for an author to know about a character. While we believe it’s probably unnecessary for an author to know the number of hairs on their character’s head, we also believe you can never know too much about your protagonist. What’s important is discerning what information is significant to the current story you’re writing.

As Ray Bradbury wrote in Zen in the Art of Writing : “Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”

3 responses

Lady Adellandra Dratianos says:

25/08/2017 – 04:28

I have one trick I use when I'm really desperate for answers. I interview my characters. By asking them questions, I can get to the bottom of the problem, and hopefully answer and solve anything I'm having trouble with.

↪️ Tay replied:

09/02/2020 – 05:10

Lol, i tried that once. It went like this: Me: so jax, do you have any siblings? Jax: maybe I do. Maybe I don't. I'm not telling you Me: why not?! Jax: well you SHOT my in the last chapter! Me: if you don't tell me I'm going to kill Blaze Jax: I don't negotiate with terrorists Me: YES YOU DO! You have literally done it on multiple accaisions! Jax: I am a figment of your imagination and therefore not responsible for my own actions Me: what? How are you more witty then I am? HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?! Me: wait, what where we talking about?

Katlyn Grow says:

08/05/2019 – 12:28

These are really helpful! I recently heard an author say to picture your character in a car. What are they listening too? Music, an audio book, nothing at all? Where are they going, where are they coming from. This helps me to get to know their personality a little better.

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Creative Writing (Novels & Novellas)

  • Introduction
  • Generating Ideas

Developing Characters

  • Crafting Settings
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  • Sharpening Prose
  • Getting Published
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"We humans are a social species. Whether you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert, on some level you want to connect with others-- to build a web of friends and enemies that'll last a lifetime.

"That longing is, in large part, why we tell stories in the first place. We want to fill our lives with brave heroes, devious villains, and crushes that we would  never admit in public (don't deny it), but it's a little too dangerous to actually meet those figures in real life. Also, they might secretly be dragons... or princesses. You don't know for sure that they aren't .

"So, we call upon the young farm boy and say, 'Look, I'm a little too scared to actually meet the princess of dragons, so you introduce me and I'll keep watch from back here, where it's safe.' To this, the young farm boy will simply respond, 'hmph,' because you didn't actually give him a personality before sending him on this errand.

"On behalf of all young farm boys everywhere, please spend some time on your characters."

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Character building

Character Building Checklist

Character building is one of the most enjoyable and important aspects of planning your novel, narrative or story. No matter the genre of writing, having well-developed , interesting characters is paramount. If your main players aren’t believable or engaging, then your reader will be bored by your story, no matter how exciting you think your plot is. In this post, you’ll get a character building checklist that’ll help you create your own cast of characters people will care about.

So, how do you develop characters out of thin air? The answer is that it takes time and effort, just like anything else. You’ll need to be imaginative, but ultimately, you have to design well-rounded, flawed individuals that keep your reader interested. For that, you need to envision them as real people and figure out what makes them tick.

I’ve designed a character checklist that I find gives me a helpful start when first imagining my characters. You can download or save a copy from this post to help you get started with your own character development. If you do, I’d love it if you could give this post a share.

Why does character building matter?

Simply put, if you don’t care about your characters, why should your reader? There’s nothing worse than reading a novel where the protagonist is just a cardboard cut-out of a real person. That’s to say that they don’t seem to have fully developed personalities. Or worse, they’re so stereotypically good or evil that they’re just boring.

Real characters need to have rough edges. They need flaws as well as heroism because to really cut through, they need to feel like real people.

If your reader can relate to a character, they can put themselves in their shoes. That’s what you want for your story. You want your readers to immerse themself deeply in the characters you create. To do that, you need to make them relatable.

Consider the psychology of people you know and explore the psychologies of those you don’t. That kind of research can help you understand more about how different kinds of human personalities work.

Questions to ask when building a character

I’ve always found it useful to design documents for each of my characters. I envisage them as being real people that I’m interviewing for a job. They need to impress me to make it into my story, so I try and dig deep for as much information as possible.

You want to make sure that you go through this process for all of your characters. That way, you’ll ensure that each of them is well-developed and doesn’t fall into tired tropes or stereotypes. For each one, create a separate document and go through some of these questions and thinking points to help you get started.

Character building checklist

Other points to consider when building characters

It’s easy to become fixated on physical appearances when initially developing your characters. While it’s great to be able to picture them visually, what’s most important is their core personality traits.

Once you’ve used the above questions and thinking points, it’s time to delve deeper into the varied aspects of your character’s personality.

Take some of the answers you create for the above questions and build on them. You can then turn them into short sentences to create a longer-form biography. For example, in answering the question about ‘markings/scars’ – you could elaborate as follows:

  • Jack has a large strawberry birthmark on his right leg, just above his kneecap. He’s had it since he was a child, and for some reason, it’s always been something he resented his mother for. Despite it being nothing she could do anything about, deep down he’s always felt as though she contributed towards this visible disfigurement of his otherwise strong, athletic legs. Jack was also left with a small scar under his left eyelid after a game he played with his younger brother Marcus as a child went horribly wrong and he had to have emergency surgery.

Here, you’ve left yourself some scope to develop the backstory between ‘Jack’ and his mother and brother, as well as providing some insight into the type of person he might be to hold family-based grudges. It might be that you scrap this part of Jack’s character development altogether, but in doing this as an exercise, you’re giving your characters a bit more depth.

Further resources

Hopefully, this checklist will give you a bit of a starting point! Feel free to download either of these additional character building idea sheets too, and let me know how you get on with your writing. You might also find this resource on worldbuilding helpful once you’ve had the time to work through some of your characters.

If you’ve found this post helpful, please give it a pin on Pinterest or share it. Let me know in the comments any questions you have about building and developing characters too.

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100 Character-Driven Writing Prompts

March 19, 2024 by Richard 1 Comment

100 Character-Driven Writing Prompts: Character-driven stories are the heart and soul of great literature, captivating readers by delving deep into the minds, emotions, and motivations of the protagonists. These stories focus on the inner lives of characters, exploring their struggles, growth, and relationships as they navigate the challenges and triumphs of their journeys. By placing characters at the forefront, writers can create narratives that resonate with readers on a profound level, fostering empathy, understanding, and self-reflection.

Crafting compelling character-driven stories requires a keen understanding of human nature and the ability to create multi-dimensional, relatable characters. Writing prompts that focus on character development can be invaluable tools for writers seeking to hone their skills and explore new creative avenues. These prompts encourage writers to delve into the psyches of their characters, unearthing their fears, desires, and secrets, and bringing them to life on the page.

The following list of 100 character-driven writing prompts is designed to inspire writers of all levels, from novice to experienced. These prompts span a wide range of genres, from science fiction and fantasy to contemporary fiction and mystery, ensuring that there is something to spark the imagination of every writer. Each prompt presents a unique scenario or character archetype, inviting writers to explore the depths of human experience and craft stories that will resonate with readers long after the final page is turned.

By embracing the power of character-driven storytelling, writers can create works that not only entertain but also enlighten, challenge, and transform readers. These 100 writing prompts serve as a springboard for creativity, encouraging writers to push the boundaries of their imagination and craft stories that celebrate the complexities and beauty of the human experience. So, whether you’re a seasoned author or a budding writer, dive into these prompts and let your characters guide you on an unforgettable journey of self-discovery and storytelling magic.

  • A retired spy is pulled back into the world of espionage for one last mission.
  • A time traveler falls in love with someone from the past.
  • A child discovers they have magical powers and must keep them hidden.
  • A therapist begins to suspect their patient is a dangerous criminal.
  • A robot learns to feel human emotions and questions its purpose.
  • A ghost watches over their living family members, unable to communicate with them.
  • A world-renowned surgeon loses the ability to operate and must find a new purpose.
  • A politician leads a double life as a vigilante by night.
  • A woman wakes up with no memory of her past and must piece together her identity.
  • A chef inherits a mysterious cookbook with recipes that have strange effects on people.
  • A homeless man discovers he has the ability to see the future.
  • A successful businesswoman is forced to confront her humble beginnings.
  • A soldier returns home from war and struggles to readjust to civilian life.
  • An alien disguised as a human falls in love with an earthling.
  • A parent’s worst fear comes true when their child goes missing.
  • A writer’s characters come to life and demand a different ending to their story.
  • A hitman falls in love with his target and must choose between love and duty.
  • A scientist accidentally clones themselves and must deal with the consequences.
  • A time traveler tries to change a historical event but makes things worse.
  • A doctor discovers a cure for a deadly disease but realizes it has terrible side effects.
  • A politician’s scandalous past catches up with them as they run for office.
  • A famous actor is haunted by a ghost who claims to be their biggest fan.
  • A detective falls in love with the main suspect in a murder investigation.
  • A therapist becomes too emotionally invested in a patient’s problems.
  • A con artist falls for their mark and must choose between love and money.
  • A journalist uncovers a government conspiracy and becomes a target.
  • A child befriends an AI and must keep it a secret from their parents.
  • A time traveler meets their future self and learns a shocking truth.
  • A spy falls in love with a fellow agent from a rival country.
  • A doctor discovers they have a terminal illness and must come to terms with their mortality.
  • A famous musician loses their hearing and must find a new way to create music.
  • A chef opens a restaurant that only serves food from their childhood.
  • A ghost helps a living person solve their own murder.
  • A therapist is stalked by a former patient seeking revenge.
  • A politician is blackmailed by a hacker who threatens to expose their secrets.
  • A scientist creates a device that allows them to communicate with animals.
  • A soldier is captured by the enemy and must rely on their training to survive.
  • An alien falls in love with a human and must choose between their home planet and Earth.
  • A parent’s child is switched at birth, and they must decide whether to keep the child they raised.
  • A writer’s fictional world becomes real, and they must navigate it to find their way back.
  • A hitman is hired to assassinate a public figure but begins to question the morality of their profession.
  • A detective is framed for a crime they didn’t commit and must clear their name.
  • A therapist is haunted by a patient who died by suicide.
  • A con artist falls for a mark who is also a con artist, and they must outsmart each other.
  • A journalist is embedded with a group of rebels fighting against a corrupt government.
  • A child discovers a portal to another world in their backyard.
  • A time traveler accidentally changes the course of history and must fix their mistake.
  • A spy is betrayed by their own agency and must go on the run to survive.
  • A doctor discovers a way to bring people back from the dead, but at a terrible cost.
  • A famous actor is forced to confront their own mortality when diagnosed with a terminal illness.
  • A musician’s songs start coming true, and they must find a way to stop it.
  • A chef is kidnapped and forced to cook for a dangerous criminal organization.
  • A ghost falls in love with a living person and must find a way to communicate with them.
  • A therapist discovers their patient is a serial killer and must decide whether to turn them in.
  • A politician is elected president and discovers a secret that could destroy the world.
  • A scientist creates a machine that can read people’s thoughts and struggles with the ethical implications.
  • A soldier is sent on a secret mission behind enemy lines and must rely on their wits to survive.
  • An alien comes to Earth to study humans and falls in love with one of their subjects.
  • A parent discovers their child has superpowers and must keep them safe from those who would exploit them.
  • A writer’s characters come to life and take over their life, forcing them to live out their own story.
  • A hitman is hired to kill a child and struggles with the moral implications of their job.
  • A detective investigating a murder begins to suspect that the victim is still alive.
  • A therapist becomes obsessed with a patient and begins to lose grip on reality.
  • A con artist is conned by their own mentor and must find a way to get revenge.
  • A journalist uncovers a secret society that controls the world from the shadows.
  • A child befriends a monster living in their closet and must keep it a secret from their family.
  • A time traveler falls in love with someone from the future and must choose between staying or going back.
  • A spy must go undercover as their own twin to infiltrate a criminal organization.
  • A doctor discovers a way to make people immortal but realizes the consequences too late.
  • A famous actor is stalked by an obsessive fan who will stop at nothing to get close to them.
  • A musician is cursed by a witch and must find a way to break the spell before it’s too late.
  • A chef opens a restaurant that serves magical dishes, but the magic comes with a price.
  • A ghost is tasked with helping a living person fulfill their destiny before they can move on to the afterlife.
  • A therapist begins to suspect that their patient is possessed by a demon.
  • A politician makes a deal with a powerful entity to win the election, but the entity has its own agenda.
  • A scientist accidentally creates a black hole and must find a way to stop it from destroying the world.
  • A soldier is sent to a war-torn country to rescue a group of civilians, but things don’t go as planned.
  • An alien crash-lands on Earth and must blend in with humans to survive.
  • A parent’s deepest fear comes true when their child is kidnapped by a supernatural entity.
  • A writer’s fictional world begins to bleed into reality, and they must find a way to stop it.
  • A hitman is hired to kill a wealthy businessman but discovers that the businessman is their long-lost father.
  • A detective is brought in to investigate a series of bizarre murders that seem to defy explanation.
  • A therapist’s patient claims to be from the future and warns of an impending apocalypse.
  • A con artist falls for their mark and must choose between their love and their freedom.
  • A journalist stumbles upon a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top of the government.
  • A child discovers a magical amulet that grants wishes, but the wishes come with unintended consequences.
  • A time traveler is tasked with preventing a major historical event from happening.
  • A spy must go undercover as a member of the royal family to prevent an assassination attempt.
  • A doctor discovers a way to communicate with the dead, but the dead have their own agenda.
  • A famous actor is forced to confront their own ego when they are cast in a role that requires them to play a less attractive version of themselves.
  • A musician is given a powerful instrument that can control people’s emotions, but it comes with a terrible price.
  • A chef is tasked with creating a dish that can bring peace to warring nations, but the ingredients are nearly impossible to find.
  • A ghost is given a second chance at life but must live in someone else’s body.
  • A therapist begins to suspect that their patient is a werewolf and must find a way to help them control their transformations.
  • A politician discovers that they are the chosen one destined to save the world from a great evil.
  • A scientist creates a machine that can bring fictional characters to life, but the characters have minds of their own.
  • A soldier is sent on a mission to infiltrate a group of rebels, but begins to sympathize with their cause.
  • An alien falls in love with a human and must choose between their loyalty to their own species or their love for the human.
  • A parent discovers that their child has been replaced by a changeling and must find a way to get their real child back.
  • A writer is transported into the world of their own book and must find a way to change the ending to save the characters they love.

In conclusion, character-driven stories have the power to illuminate the human condition, fostering a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. By placing characters at the heart of the narrative, writers can create stories that resonate on a profound level, touching readers’ lives and leaving a lasting impact. These 100 writing prompts serve as a catalyst for creativity, encouraging writers to explore the limitless possibilities of character-driven storytelling.

Crafting compelling characters is both an art and a skill, requiring writers to delve into the complexities of human nature and bring their creations to life on the page. Through the use of vivid description, authentic dialogue, and psychological depth, writers can create characters that feel as real as the people we encounter in our daily lives. By investing time and effort into character development, writers can elevate their stories from mere entertainment to works of art that inspire, challenge, and transform.

As you embark on your writing journey, remember that character-driven stories have the power to bridge the gap between writer and reader, creating a shared experience that transcends the boundaries of the page. By crafting characters that readers can relate to, empathize with, and root for, you have the opportunity to create stories that will be cherished for generations to come.

So, whether you’re a seasoned author or a novice writer, embrace the power of character-driven storytelling and let these writing prompts be your guide. Dive deep into the hearts and minds of your characters, and let their stories unfold with authenticity, vulnerability, and truth. Through your words, you have the ability to shape the world, one character at a time.

In the end, remember that writing is a journey of self-discovery and growth. As you explore the depths of your characters, you may just find yourself reflected in their struggles, triumphs, and transformations. Embrace the power of character-driven storytelling, and let your creativity flow freely. The world is waiting for the stories only you can tell.

If you enjoyed these writing prompts, we have many more on our site .

Related posts:

  • 10 Horrifying Horror Story Prompts
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  • 50 writing prompts from the North Pole
  • 50 Arthurian Myths and Legends Writing Prompts
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About Richard

Richard Everywriter (pen name) has worked for literary magazines and literary websites for the last 25 years. He holds degrees in Writing, Journalism, Technology and Education. Richard has headed many writing workshops and courses, and he has taught writing and literature for the last 20 years.  

In writing and publishing he has worked with independent, small, medium and large publishers for years connecting publishers to authors. He has also worked as a journalist and editor in both magazine, newspaper and trade publications as well as in the medical publishing industry.   Follow him on Twitter, and check out our Submissions page .

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Featured Reviews for Design-Build Contractors & Firms in Elektrostal'

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What is a design-build firm?

Questions to ask a prospective elektrostal' design-builder:.

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    Here is your 12 step guide for good character development: Download a worksheet. Create a background for your character. Give your character strengths and weaknesses. Create nervous ticks for your character. Avoid making a "perfect" character. Give your character realistic motives.

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    Create a new board for your character profile. Drag a board out from the toolbar. Give it a name, then double click to open it. Add an image to represent your character. Click the "Upload file" button or just drag a file onto your board. You can add images, logos, documents, videos, audio, and much more. 2.

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    When you are building your own characters, think about what sort of flaws they have. The flaw should make sense for the character, as in, it should be related to their background/beliefs. You can't assign flaws arbitrarily—the flaw should arise from the circumstances of your character's life, where they are, who they know, how they were ...

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  18. New & Custom Home Builders in Elektrostal'

    After planning and permitting work, the actual building of the home in Elektrostal' can take anywhere between 6 months and 2 years, depending on size, type of construction, materials, weather conditions, and many other factors. Building a fully customized home generally requires a longer timeframe than a semi-custom or prefab home.

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    Elektrostal is a city in Moscow Oblast, Russia, located 58 kilometers east of Moscow. Elektrostal has about 158,000 residents. Mapcarta, the open map.

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