We’ve all experienced watching a movie or a TV show where we relate so much to a character. The character is similar to how you see yourself or how you wish you were, and you feel passionate about the character. Seeing the character overcome their challengesis what hooks you. We’ve all also experienced losing interest in something because the characters were just flat and unexciting. They didn’t feel like real people. So as screenwriters, how can we create characters that are the former rather than the latter? I’ve put together a list of 20 character questions to understand better and further develop your characters! Yes, you need to get to know your characters like a best friend – love them or hate them.
20 Character Development Questions for Your Screenplay:
What makes your character get up in the morning?
What’s the worst day your character can remember having? What’s the best day?
Your character is granted one wish. What do they wish for to improve their life instantly?
What’s their biggest pet peeve?
What’s their biggest fear?
It’s the weekend - what’s your character doing?
When was the last time your character did something brave?
What did your character’s last daydream involve?
What’s a secret that they don’t want anyone to know?
What does your character bring to their friend group? Are they the adventurous one, the funny one, the mom friend?
What is one thing your character always carries on their person?
What’s something about your character that the other characters would be surprised to learn?
Is your character an introvert or an extrovert? An optimist or a pessimist? A morning person or a night owl?
What would a perfect day look like for your character?
Your character needs to bury a body. Who are they calling for help?
Desert island question, your character is stranded with one other person, and they only have three items on them. Who’s the person, and what are the three items?
What’s your character’s worst habit?
Has your character ever been in love?
Does your character believe in a god? Are they religious?
Your character is thrown a surprise birthday party! What’s that like? Who put it together, who’s attending, and how does your character react?
Hopefully, these questions can provide some additional insight and understanding to your characters. If you find yourself still struggling or in doubt about your character’s believability, you’ll want to check out SoCreate’s other blogs on the topic of characters:
Disney Writer Ricky Roxburgh’s Guide to Character Development, where he explains how characters drive your story forward
How to Develop Characters, with Screenwriter, Producer, and Comedian Monica Piper, where she reveals 3 keys to character success
Veteran TV Writer Ross Brown’s Trick for Developing Characters in a Screenplay, where he steps through 5 tips to write characters that your audience will be drawn to
How to Develop Great Characters using the dead actor technique, with screenwriter Bryan Young
And my blog, How to Write Characters in Your Script That People Can’t Get Enough Of, where I go more into detail about the five rules I follow to create memorable protagonists that audiences will love
Think of your script’s characters as real people. Real people have layers, secrets, flaws, and they experience growth. Aiming for what feels most real, rather than what’s coinvent for the story, can help you achieve more grounded and realistic characters.