The power behind any novel is not just if it has an awesome plot.  But if it has characters that move the reader.  Character development is something that is learned.  It’s something that you can get better at.  But it starts with having a great template to work from.  Here is the template that I use in developing my characters.  I don’t profess that any of this is original.  Just that its pieced together from others who I’ve come to respect.  I figure perhaps this might work for other aspiring writers as well.

Now here’s the thing.  When you start a character you might not know all this.  If you are a pantzer who writes by the seat of their pants.  Then you might find these questions get answered organically as you write.  But whatever you do answer the questions at some point.

Answer these 17 questions and you will be on your way to have a great character for your work!


  1. What is the character’s name?
  2. A one-sentence summary of the character’s story line?
  3. The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  4. The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  5. What event launches the characters toward their first dilemma?
  6. The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  7. What event strips the character of hope?
  8. What even pushes the characters to change?
  9. The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?)
  10. What even shows the characters as their changed selves?
  11. A one-paragraph summary of the character’s story line?
  12. What is their role in story?
  13. What is their occupation?
  14. What is there physical description?
  15. What is their personality?
  16. What are their Habits/Mannerisms?
  17. What is their Background?


Donovan M. Neal

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