Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Five: 5 Great Questions to Ask Your Character

by Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website.

For the sake of simplicity, I'm going to refer to characters with female pronouns. I just don't want to do the whole "he or she" thing all the way through.

These are five questions you can ask your character that will help deepen your understanding of them. Don't limit yourself to your main character; those other characters have opinions too!

1. What object does your character value that she would never willingly give up? (Story bonus points: How can you make her give it up?)

2. When she wakes up in the morning or falls asleep at night, what does she dream about? Worry about? What's always on the back of her mind?

3. What is her biggest weakness? How can she face that in the story?

4. What is her happiest childhood memory?

5. What can your character do at the end of the book that she couldn't do at the beginning?

If you'd like, post one of your answers below!

Don't forget, today's the last day to enter the "Every word he spoke was a lie" 100-word contest.

Have a great weekend!


  1. Yay! I'm first to comment.
    Sorry, that was weird.
    Anyways, I'm writing a contemporary middle grade novel and my MC values her friendship with her neighbour Jake. Jake eventually stops being friends with her because of peer pressure (you know, boys and girls can't be friends) and she's very hurt by that.

    Well, that's how I hope it will end up. I'm approximately 7 chapters in (8,000 words) in. And I need a title! Agh!
    Okay, i'll stop ranting now.

    Also, I started a blog for teen writers and readers. Would any of you mind checking it out and telling me what you think? See above link.

  2. My character most values his honor and freedom to think contrary to the culture.
    When he wakes up in the morning he thinks of his wife and kids, far away. Why he can't be with them is part of the story. By the end of the book he's lost his family and honor, but he restrains from taking revenge on the guy who brought it on him.

  3. Nice blog Sam. I like the picture of the hot air balloon.

    My one of my MCs in my fantasy, has lost both her parents. Her grandfather lives with her till he dies, and on his death bed he tells her he isn't really her grandfather. Now she has a trust issue, and doesn't want to form any relationships that might cause her more hurt, but she starts to anyways.

    1. Whoops! I guess I went to the wrong blog. O well, I like your picture better. :D

  4. Probably my favorite part of writing my book is getting to know my characters. I fall in love with them and by the end of the book they are my friends.

  5. Cool. Nice questions. I haven't got time to think them through now, but I'm keeping this post in mind for my next first draft... :)

    Really enjoyed the prompt, by the way!

  6. Awesome, thanks, Stephanie! :)

    5. What can your character do at the end of the book that she couldn't do at the beginning?
    Something My current character can't do at the beginning but will be able to do at the end is forgive. :)

    I loved doing the prompt! :D Thanks so much for doing that! ;)

  7. Ohhhh, I really like number 2, Stephanie! Thanks! :D Little details like that really help make a character.

  8. Dreams are huge for our character. Cailey's nights are vivid and often fitful, and offer up enlightening (although sometimes confusing) ideas and information vital to accomplishing her goal. Her parents, one freshly gone and the other long since disappeared, are always on the back of her mind and sometimes appear in her dreams. Cailey is guided by her dreams, and eventually they are revealed, in her case, to be more than unconscious visions. They are a key theme in our book - I love this question! :)

  9. Thank you so much for posting on this! I love developing characters, so anything to help me better them is just wonderful :)

    Another suggestion to other readers of this post: Actually pretending to ask your character (like in an interview) these questions makes it so much funner and even more worthwhile, I think. (I love pretending my characters are real.)

  10. These are awesome questions! I'm going to sit down and work them out for all of my characters (somehow, I think the childhood memory is the toughest XD).

  11. Such a simple concept but so amazingly helpful! I'm keeping these questions and going to use them on some of my characters. Thank you so much, Stephanie!

  12. I know it isn't from this post, but can someone please explain what this means:"what is your chatacter's name and WHY?" Do I have to have a reason for her name? Can it just be because it's pretty and I like it?

  13. I hope 2014 proves to be a good year for you and yours!