Help Creating Characters: Character Prompts

Help Creating Characters: Character Prompts

Looking for an interesting character? Whether it’s a main role, or a walk-on part in your story, you can get a start with these character prompts. If this character does not inspire you, you can get a new character by refreshing the page.

Quanisha Barnes

  • Age: 51
  • Career: farmworker
  • Strengths: accurate, honest, patient
  • Weaknesses: short-sighted, naive
  • Primary Motivation: wants to discover new things for the sake of knowledge.

How to Develop an Interesting Character

In many stories, particularly character-driven fiction, your characters are the most important element of your story. In character-driven fiction the plot is based on what your character wants and what they do to get it. Creating a main character that your readers care about is the key to keep them turning the pages to find out what happens next. Secondary characters can also make a story more exciting.

Your characters are not real people, but the more real they seem, the easier it is for readers to care about them. They can be based on yourself, someone you know, or someone you have met. Ideally, you will borrow only a few distinctive characteristics from a real people for any one of your characters. This can help avoid legal problems if your story gets published. Our character generator can help you make your characters unique, even if they are partially based on real people — even if they look like them or share some of their qualities.

Character development takes a lot of time and a lot of thought.

Character development is a process. It takes time, thought, and effort to create a full-fledged character with personality traits and quirks that make them stand out from the crowd of generic characters that appear in so many stories. The art of creating characters is a complicated one. It involves digging deep into the psyche of your character, figuring out what makes them tick, and then writing that down on paper in a way that makes sense to you and your readers. It can be challenging at first, but with practice it becomes second nature.

Character development is hard work; it’s something you have to think about carefully before you write your story because your readers will notice if their favorite characters are flat or uninteresting. Combining our character generator with this character development writing exercise can help you jump-start that process.

A good character is complicated.

A good character is complicated, not a stereotype, or a cliche. There are some characters who have been around for so long that they’ve become their own stereotypes, like the grumpy old man or the crazy cat lady or whatever else you might think of when you hear those two words. But if your character fits one of these molds without any other layers to them, then they will feel flat and dull on the page—and thus flat and dull to your readers as well.

A great example of how this can work in fiction is in movies: there are plenty of great movies out there where people start off assuming one thing about a certain character based on their appearance (or lack thereof), but by the end they find themselves surprised because they learn more about what makes that person tick than what’s immediately apparent from looking at them—and so does everyone else watching!

That’s what makes us care about our protagonists’ journeys through life—it’s not just seeing them grow up over time through experiences; it’s also learning more about who they really are underneath all that time passing by as well

Writing Exercise: Character Development

To develop this character further, ask yourself the following questions about the character prompts you got. Spend about 30 minutes writing out the answers:

Where does your character come from?

In order to understand your character, you need to know where they came from. Characteristics such as family, hometown, education and religion are important factors in the material where your characters are from. Your character’s ethnicity plays an important role in how he or she acts in society. Their social status determines their social standing and how people treat them. A person’s profession also shapes his or her behavior and outlook on life.

Look at the career information from your character prompt. Knowing what job a person has can tell you if they have enough money for basic necessities like food or shelter, while their income level will determine what sort of lifestyle they live (or wish they could live).

Characteristics like these can help you create realistic characters who feel authentic because they come from specific places with distinct backgrounds. Learning about these aspects of your characters will help you build complex personalities that feel real when readers experience them through the pages of your book!

  • What kind of home does your character live in?
  • Why do they live there? (Saving money, showing off, convenience?)
  • Ask the same questions about what your character likes to wear, drive, collect, etc.
  • Does your character have a family?
    • Are they close (living together or nearby)?
    • Who are they?
    • Are they supportive of your characters needs and goals?
  • What was your character like when they were younger?
  • What does your character hope to be like when they are older?

What does your character want or need?

We could write a lot about the difference between wants and needs, but for this exercise they serve the same purpose. What does your character want? Look at this character’s primary motivation (in the prompt above). A character’s need is a thing they’re striving towards. It could be as simple as being hungry, or it could be something more complex and internal like trying to find out who they are by learning about their past. We have provided a general motivation that speaks more to their personality than specific goals.

  • Looking at your character’s primary motivation, do you think he/she is happy with his/her life?
    • Is their career fulfilling? How someone with this motivation end up in a job like this?
  • What specific goals does your character have that will help them satisfy their primary motivation?
  • What they doing anything to pursue that goal?

What are your character’s obstacles to success?

Whatever their goal, your character’s need should be something tangible that the audience can understand in an instant; it should also provide conflict for your protagonist (so don’t make it too easy). It should be something that your character cannot get on her own. The reason why this is important is because without some kind of outside force acting upon her, there would be no story! If you want your reader to feel empathy for your characters and engage in their struggles, then make sure that need is strong enough that we’re rooting for them to achieve it—or failing miserably at achieving it. It must also be something worth going through great lengths for; otherwise there wouldn’t really be any stakes involved if success were guaranteed.

  • What is holding your character back at this point?
  • Take a look at your characters greatest strengths:
    • how can they help your character get what he/she wants?
    • how are those strengths holding him/her back?
  • Take a look at your characters greatest weaknesses:
    • How are they holding your character back?
    • How can they help your character achieve his/her goals?

How does your character feel about what they want and need?

It is the goal of every character to have their wants and needs met. Your character will have deep-seated, subconscious beliefs about what they want and need, but also how they feel about the world around them, other people and themselves. This is an important part of creating your characters because it’s going to impact how they interact with others. If your character has a belief that people are untrustworthy or that love doesn’t exist, then those feelings will come out in the way they treat others.

  • If your character is happy, what could change that? (Start your story when something bad happens to ruin their perfect life.)
  • If your character is unhappy, what does he/she think will change that? (Start your story with the day when it all is just too much and they decide to change.)


We hope this article has helped you understand how to create more complicated and rich characters. Remember that it’s important not only to think about what they want and need but also where they come from, how they feel about those things, and why those feelings are so strong in the first place.

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