Are you feeling stuck in your writing? Do you have an idea for a story or novel but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve started writing but feel like you’ve hit a wall. If so, character prompts may be the solution for you! In this blog post, we will discuss 22 different character prompts that can jump-start your writing process and help you create interesting and believable characters.
22 Character Prompts
- Do you have a character who is struggling with an inner conflict? Perhaps they are torn between following their dreams or staying true to their family and cultural traditions.
- Does your character have a personal flaw or weakness that they must overcome to succeed? Maybe they have low self-esteem or get easily overwhelmed by stress and anxiety.
- Are you looking for a way to develop your antagonist’s character? Consider developing their backstory, including details about how they became the villainous person they are today.
- How can you make your characters stand out from the crowd? One way is to give them unique interests and hobbies, such as photography, rock climbing, or playing musical instruments.
- Are you struggling with how to incorporate more diversity into your writing? Consider creating characters of different genders, races, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, and abilities.
- Does your character need to save the world from imminent peril? Or maybe they need to complete a simple task like delivering an important message or running an errand for their boss. No matter what kind of storyline you’re working on, there is always room for interesting side characters that can help move the plot forward.
- Do you want to add some humor or lightheartedness to your story? Try creating quirky or wacky secondary characters that will add levity and comic relief in moments of tension or high drama.
- Is your main character facing tough decisions requiring careful planning and strategizing? Consider giving them a best friend or mentor to help them make important choices, and then stick with them through thick and thin.
- Does your character have an unusual skill, talent, or gift that they can share with others? Maybe they are a skilled carpenter, an amazing baker, or a talented musician who loves to perform in front of crowds. Incorporating this unique talent into their character arc can make them feel more real and three-dimensional.
- What is one of your character’s hobbies or interests that they enjoy? How can you incorporate that into their story to feel natural and realistic?
- Do you have a character who is in a long-term committed relationship? Consider giving them a family member, friend, or colleague they can rely on when times are tough.
- Does your character have a reckless disregard for their safety? Or maybe they’re too cowardly to stand up for themselves when something goes wrong? These personality traits are rarely beneficial, which is why they make great flaws to include in your characters.
- Do you have an intriguing location in mind for your story? Consider giving your characters a purpose for being there, whether on vacation, working as a tourist guide, or conducting research.
- Are some of your characters already set in stone, while others still need some work? If so, consider creating a comprehensive list of NPC characteristics to help you flesh out the less developed ones.
- Do you have a character who is very wealthy or perhaps very poor? How can you incorporate their financial circumstances into their story in a way that feels organic and realistic?
- Does your character have a favorite fictional character from a book, movie, or television show? How can you incorporate some of their favorite characteristics into your character?
- Does your character have a pet or companion that they care for? How can you incorporate this relationship into their story in a way that feels natural, realistic, and doesn’t seem forced or contrived?
- Have you been trying to find the perfect name for your character? Consider giving them a name similar to a family member’s name or one that pays homage to a place they have a close connection with.
- Do you have a character who feels like they don’t fit in with the rest of their family or community? How can you incorporate their struggles to find their place in the world into their story arc?
- Do you have a character who has recently lost a loved one or had a child? How can you incorporate the death or birth of a family member into their story in a way that feels authentic and realistic?
- Does your main character have an irrational fear or phobia that they must face? Maybe they are afraid of heights, cats, or spiders.
- Are you struggling with how to incorporate a certain piece of lore or backstory into your character’s backstory? Consider giving them a family member, teacher, or mentor who is the keeper of that ancient knowledge.
Building (Fictional) Characters 101
There are characters in every story, whether it’s a novel, a movie, or a play. But what exactly is a character? How do you create one that feels real and three-dimensional? Here are some things to consider when developing characters for your next story.
What motivates your character?
A character’s motivation is what drives them to do what they do. It can be something as simple as needing to eat or as complicated as wanting to take over the world. For example, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Harry’s motivation is to defeat Lord Voldemort and protect his friends and loved ones. Knowing what motivates your character will help determine how they will react in different situations.
What does your character want?
This question is closely related to motivation, but it’s not the same. What a character wants is their specific goal at any given moment. For example, in the first Harry Potter book, Harry’s goal is to find out who tried to kill him when he was a baby. In the seventh book, his goal is to destroy all of Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes. Knowing what your character wants at each stage of the story will help you keep them focused and on track.
What does your character fear?
Fear is another important factor in shaping your character. We all have fears, which can often motivate us just as much as our desires. For example, in the Harry Potter series, Harry is afraid of Lord Voldemort Killing him or his loved ones. This fear drives him to do whatever he can to defeat Voldemort before he has a chance to act on his threats. Consider what your character fears and how it affects their actions and decisions.
These are just a few things to consider when developing characters for your stories. By taking the time to consider their backstories, motivations, goals, and fears, you can create realistic and believable characters that will captivate your readers from beginning to end.
Crafting Complex Characters
As a writer, you have the unique opportunity to create someone from scratch. Someone who doesn’t exist in the real world but who feels so real to your readers that they might as well be. Creating a well-rounded, three-dimensional character is vital to writing a successful story—after all, without believable characters, what’s the point?
Fortunately, crafting complex characters is not as daunting as it might seem. Following a few simple steps can give your characters the depth and dimension they need to leap off the page and into your readers’ hearts. So let’s get started!
The Basics of Character Creation
When you sit down to write a new character, there are some essential questions you need to answer to get started. Who is this person? What do they look like? Where are they from? What motivates them? Once you have the answers to these basic questions, you can flesh out your character and give them the depth they need to be believable.
One of the best ways to get to know your character is by writing their biography. Of course, not their entire life story from birth until the present day—just a brief overview covering the highlights. What were some major events in their childhood? Did they suffer any traumas or lose anyone close to them? What kind of relationship do they have with their parents, siblings, and friends? What does their daily life look like? The more you know about your character’s past, the better equipped you’ll be to write them convincingly in the present.
Next, take some time to consider your character’s personality. Do they tend to be optimistic or pessimistic? Are they introverted or extroverted? Easygoing or high-strung? Does anyone in their life bring out a different side of them? It’s important to remember that even the most minor of characters should be multi-faceted; everyone has different sides to them that come out under different circumstances.
Once you have a good handle on your character and where it came from, it’s time to start writing! When you’re sitting down at the keyboard (or with pen and paper), there are a few things you can keep in mind to help ensure that your character feels three-dimensional on the page:
- First and foremost, remember that characters are people too. Like real people, they will make mistakes and say things they regret later. They will have good days and bad days. They will act differently around different people. In short: don’t try too hard to make them perfect—it will only make them feel fake.
- Dialogue is one of the best ways to let your reader get inside your character’s head and learn how they think and speak. Make sure each character has their distinctive way of talking; nobody sounds exactly alike in real life, so why should they be on the page?
- Be consistent with your characters’ traits and actions throughout the story. If your protagonist is normally levelheaded but acts impulsively during one scene, explain why—maybe they’re tired, angry, or just not thinking straight. Otherwise, your readers will get confused and lose interest quickly.
- Pay attention to body language! This is an often-overlooked aspect of characterization but can reveal a lot about how your character feels at any given moment. Are they slouching or standing up straight? Fidgeting or completely still? Making eye contact or avoiding it altogether? These seemingly small details can tell us a lot about what’s happening inside your character’s head.
What Every Character Needs in a Story
Here are three things every character needs in a story.
One of the first things to consider when developing a character is their goal. What do they want? Why do they want it? What are they willing to do to achieve it? Answering these questions will help you create a character that is driven and motivated, making them more interesting and relatable to readers.
No one is perfect, and neither should your characters be. Give them flaws and imperfections that make them feel real and human. These can be physical flaws, like acne or poor vision, or personality flaws, like being too shy or being a control freak. Whatever you choose, make sure it makes sense for the character and doesn’t make them feel one-dimensional.
A Unique Voice
Another important thing to consider when developing your characters is their voice. How do they speak? Do they use slang? Are they well-educated or not so much? Their dialogue should be unique and help convey their personality to readers. This is one of the things that will help readers connect with your characters and feel like they know them on a personal level.