100+ Questions to Help You Interview Your Character

How well do you know your characters? Like the back of my hand, you say? Do you know the color of your hero’s eyes? Do you know where the bad guy went to college? Do you know your heroine’s most embarrassing moment? Can you rattle off a list of your main character’s idiosyncrasies? Typical expressions? Romantic history?

If any one of these questions had you fumbling for an answer, then you’re missing a prime opportunity to deepen your characters and expand your story. Over the years, one of the most useful tools I’ve run across is the “character interview.” My own list started out as twenty or so basic questions regarding physical appearance and personality issues. Now it contains over fifty precise and penetrating questions, designed to get my brain juices flowing and my characters talking.

Interviewing your characters may become a vital part of your outlining process, as it has mine. I’ll often fill up half a notebook with narrative answers to the most probing questions about my characters’ relationships, beliefs, and secrets. I refer to these lists constantly throughout the actual writing process, not only for on-the-spot inspiration, but for fact checking (How old was he when his mother died? Did he break his left or his right leg in that car accident?).

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel (affiliate link)

I’ve included below the list I’ve compiled for myself. Feel free to copy it out and use it to get your own characters talking. (Note: Since writing this post, I’ve updated this list when nearly fifty more questions. You can find longer lists in my free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters and my book Outlining Your Novel, and the complete list in the Outlining Your Novel Workbook software.)

Character Interview Outlining Your Novel Workbook computer program

Other Options for Interviewing Your Characters

You might also want to keep in mind several other useful techniques, including the Enneagram (any-a-gram), a personality test that aligns character traits to one of nine categories and outlines strengths and flaws. Not only is it interesting reading, but it can also help round out a character and summarize his personality. Something I’ve found especially helpful is the “fatal flaw” that accompanies each personality.

Crafting Unforgettable CharactersFinally, should you run across a taciturn character who refuses to let you into his deeper psyche, try a “freehand interview.” Instead of forcing your character into the rigidity of the set questions in a regular interview, just throw him onto the page and start asking him questions: What’s the matter with you? What are you hiding from me? You’ll be surprised what you can drag out of your characters using this method.

All three of these tools, used in concert, can work miracles in breaking open the walls between author and character and forcing your characters to spill their guts and reveal their deepest motivations. Plus, it’s grand fun!

How Well Do You Know Your Character? Infographic

Featured in the Outlining Your Novel Workbook (affiliate link).

Character Interview



Place of birth:



Ethnic background:

Places lived:

Current address and phone number:


Favorite subject in school:

Special training:





Dating, marriage:


What people does he most admire:

Relationship with God:

Overall outlook on life:

Does this character like himself:

What, if anything, would he like to change about his life:

Is he lying to himself about something?

How is he viewed by others:

Physical appearance:

Physical build:


Head shape:








Right- or left-handed:


What you notice first:


How would he describe himself:



Strongest/weakest character traits:

How much self-control and self-discipline does he have:


Political leaning:

Collections, talents:

What people like best about him:

Interests and favorites:

Food, drink:




Sports, recreation:

Did he play in school:


Best way to spend a weekend:

A great gift for this person:



Typical expressions:

When happy:

When angry:

When sad:


Laughs or jeers at:

Ways to cheer up this person:

Ways to annoy this person:

Hopes and dreams:

What’s the worst thing he’s ever done to someone and why:

Greatest success:

Biggest trauma:

What does he care about most in the world:

Does he have a secret:

What does/will he like best about the other main character(s):

What does/will he like least about the other main character(s):

If he could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be:

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to him:

He is the kind of person who:

Why will the reader sympathize with this person right away:


Tell me your opinion: How do you get to know your characters?

100 Plus Questions to Help You Interview Your Character

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. Copied this off to use. Thanks for this exhaustive list. Great information!

  2. Thanks for a great list. Can’t wait to apply it!

  3. Glad you found it helpful! I can’t take complete credit for it, since I’ve gleaned questions from all kinds of sources.

  4. I went and used this for all my characters, even though I had planned them fairly extensively already. I learnt things I didn’t even know about them from these, if that makes sense haha =]
    Thanks for posting this up

  5. I’ve added to this list quite a bit since originally posting it. If you’re interested, you can find the updated version in my free ebook Crafting Unforgettable Characters, in the top of the left sidebar.

  6. This is a big help to me! Now I need to read your e-book! Thank you for the info–I’m afraid I’m using your information as a mini-writing course.

  7. The e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters has an expanded version of the interview, and Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success has an even bigger one!

  8. I should note that this does not work with everyone. Some writers find interviewing their characters to be counterproductive; if they know everything about the character before they begin, there’s nothing for them to discover about the character through storytelling.

  9. Everyone has to find the techniques that work best for them. Most authors find the interview very helpful, but like outlining, some find it stilts their creativity.

  10. Nice. I started to fill it out with me as the character, but didn’t like what I was seeing. So I’ll stick with the made-up ones.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Hah! I’ve actually thought about filling it out for myself. It’d take too much time, but it’d be interesting to see how I’d stack up against my made-up people.

  11. Steve Mathisen says

    Excellent list…whatever the source. Thanks for compiling them.

  12. I always mean to ask when I see you mention working on character sketches what you use. Thank you. Very useful list.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      If you’ve followed the Writing Question of the Day (#WQOTD) on Facebook or Twitter for the last several months, then you’ve probably seen (and maybe answered) most of these questions already.

  13. I pretty much do the same thing. I was taught this in high school, but not to this depth. This is great stuff and I will use it. Oh…and you’ve given me another reason to get your Outlining book. I’ve been procrastinating because I already have an outlining method I’m happy with… but, I also had a character question list I “was” happy with and you blew that out of the water. Darn you woman! LOL 🙂

  14. So good! Invaluable. I’ve been looking for this since I started writing my own young adult fiction. Thanks.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Glad it came in handy for you!

      • Amalia Zeichnerin says

        Thanks a lot for this character interview, it helped me a lot with my main characters of my new novel to get to really thoroughly know them.
        Before, I only had a vague impression of them, especially one. With this interview technique I was able to create a whole new back story for him and was also able to distinct him clearly from a character with a similar profession.

  15. Okay, so I downloaded the PDF of Crafting Unforgettable Characters. On the character interview, I noticed that the question “How do people view this character” was listed twice (though slightly different wording): once after “Friends” and then another time between “Confidence level” and “Typical day.”
    Is this a typo of sorts, or is there a different meaning behind the placement? I know, kind of a weird thing to ask since I can do the questions in whatever order I need/want. But…I had to ask, since I tend to just go through lists in the order written, and it was bugging me that I couldn’t figure this out. Thanks!

    By the way: the list helped me to understand a character that refused to be what I wanted him to be. What I got was better! 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yep, that would be a typo. Unfortunately, I no longer have the ability to update the pdf version. But thanks for letting me know! I’m glad the interview has been helpful to you.

  16. Nicole Montgomery says

    This is great! I used to do this way back in jr. high, when I first started making up characters and stories to put them in (most of which involved the original X-men, but hey, it was jr high), but this is a perfect version for well, the grown-ups.

    I would add, for anything involving magic or superhuman powers: weakness or inability (think Superman and Kryptonite), & limitations (noting if they’re specific to the character or general to the magic/powers employed). Also, skills or special talents that might or might not be superhuman. (Those might be in the book, which I’ve bought but not read yet (had to wait for summer).

    Thanks for this!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Good point. When I wrote this list I was definitely thinking non-speculative stories. But the possibilities of fantasy and sci-fi open all of kinds of further angles.

      • Nicole Montgomery says

        I once had a character change sex from one scene to the next, so I really need to write these out – LOL.

        And I just thought of something that would be helpful – do this same kind of thing for at least some of my settings!

        They tend to be weak, and, I’ve noted change mysteriously from one scene to the next. It’s a desert planet that suddenly grew ferns… etc. Having something like this on file for those, too, would be great.

        I discovered your site a couple of months ago, when I was deep into the busiest part of my day job, and am just now getting to go back and investigate all the great things you have here – it’s a treat, both in content and design – and I’m looking forward to finally getting to read your books. Thank you for it all!

  17. This is such a great list! Thank you.

  18. Adelle drost says

    Brilliant suggestions. Keeping this saved to use for next book. I read to write down twenty things about your character, whether they will feature on the book or not. Helped emensely. I go over it every time I sit down to write that character. . .

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Exactly! You never know when even seemingly arcane details might become useful in shaping or understanding the character–and sometimes they surprise you by showing up in the book itself after all.

  19. Hi. I just finished writing and publishing my life’s story and now I want to take a break from all the “heavy” stuff and write a fiction novel. I feel like I can do a great job at describing everything in my stories except the characters. Sure, i can tell if someone is tall or short, fat or skinny, or what color eyes or hair they have, etc., but when I read other people’s books, they always go much deeper – describing the shape of a person’s face or nose, possibly even cheekbones and dimples; they describe a person’s “build” and body shape; they know that when they say their character is a specific height, that person is considered tall or short – but I have no clue how to describe in this much detail. I don’t even know the words to use because I have found that describing people in real life tends to almost always offend someone, so I avoid it whenever possible. However, I would love to learn how to describe my story characters so readers can get a picture of what those characters are supposed to look like. Do you have or know of any resources that could help me? I wasn’t too worried about this aspect in writing my life story because I didn’t really want my characters to be recognizable in real life anyway, but in writing a fiction piece, this seems like an important skill I need to develop. Thanks.

  20. This is great but i always always recommend writers to not just fill in an interview form, bc while that might help you iron out superficial and easily categorisable characteristics, what’s even better is getting a sense of your character’s existence, and existence around other people.

    Instead, do this interview in prose. Write out either a 3rd party character, a narrator or even another character interviewing your characters. Don’t just name their nervousness, write how their nervousness manifests in an interview as they answer a question about whether they’re a confidant or nervous person. Write the things they lie about in an interview, the characteristics they’re ashamed of, the ones they put on, how they act, their manner, while nutting out details like DOB and eye colour. When asked about their education, don’t just answer with ‘I went to XYZ High School’, say that, and then have your character ramble on some tirade about this kid who bullied them in third grade, and their subject biases, and how they liked their teachers, and what their opinion on the school system is. Write about how they sit, what they’re wearing, how they present, what they do with their hands.

    It doesn’t have to be long–just take a page or even a paragraph, and not all of it has to be in great detail, but you’ll end up with a much more 3D and well-rounded character who makes more sense and you’ll have a wealth of info to draw on as you write your novel 🙂

  21. Gina Scott Roberts says

    While I don’t interview my characters, I do create records that allow me to keep track of various details about them such as physical description, history, education, family…even their food, drink, and pet preferences. Those who do open up to me may even have notes on favorite music or movie.

    Some people used to make fun of my character dossiers, complete with pictures. Fortunately, my father was there to praise them, even telling people how thorough I was by doing these files. When you’re not only a beginner at writing but a kid, this kind of thing goes a LONG way in boosting your confidence.

    Maybe because I was a kid, and a comic book collector, my early format was actually based on comic books giving dossiers on comic book characters. I would even alter pictures of various characters to serve as inspiration for my characters.

    Over the years, I streamlined/expanded the format and moved from drawings of the characters to using photos of various actors/actresses or models from magazines who remind me of my characters. In recent years, I’ve begun to include layouts of their homes. A great 3D modeling program provides not only floorplans but allows ‘photographs’ of the rooms from various angles after they’ve been furnished and decorated–always a fun project when no one’s talking to me about their story and a great reference to get details right.

    Along with format, the information included changes as the characters develop–sometimes their history or education changes due to a necessary plot point. But more often than not it’s details that seem to be added to on a regular basis as I get to know them better.

    Thanks for this post, just like my dad’s encouragement all those years ago, it boosts my confidence in continuing this habit.

    Oh, and I’ll be checking your interview list to see if there’s anything I can use to once more tweak my dossier format to offer a more detailed ‘picture’ of my characters!

  22. Thank you so much this is will definitly help me on my book report

    • Ms. Albina says

      I would like to some of these questions but I don’t think healers have saltiest since they live on a fictional planet. Everyone trade or barders for what they need.

  23. Ms. Albina says

    I am confused on this question-Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to him:

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      The question about the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to your character has to do with something he’s ashamed of, such as, say, forgetting his lines in a school play when he was a kid.

  24. I get to know my characters by simply chewing them in my head. It’s like I’m pregnant. It could also be like rolling up a ball to make a snowman. I first get an idea of what my story and characters are about. They simply evolve over time due to my constant thinking about them. I don’t force myself to think of anything new. I just keep thinking of what I already know about the plot and characters, and eventually, it leads me to new plot points and more character development… and after about nine months or so, I birth it into the world via my first draft.

  25. Thanks so much K. M. Weiland; this has helped me enormously. I know my character better now. I applied the enneagram technique as well – she is a two with five; self-preservation subtype so her flaws are pride and avarice. Lots of material for my NaNoWriMo attempt. You are such a great help to new authors.

  26. Great post for learning more about your characters.

    I approach the character by drawing up a biography first. Then I will free association to reach the character. I find I get to know the character really well as they are apt to “speak” in their voice. You’ll hear, figuratively speaking, the nuances, their sarcasm, or angst as they “answer” your questions.

    Thank for your post!

  27. Hi, Im Wend from Indonesia. I really like your book. I am writing my final course and I use your book to be one of the research references on character. Can I find out what Unforgettable Crafting books were released in the year? thanks.

  28. Thanks so much!

    Would windows 10 pro work ? I was wanting the ‘outlining your novel workbook’

  29. ”Do you know the color of your hero’s eyes? Do you know where the bad guy went to college? Do you know your heroine’s most embarrassing moment? Can you rattle off a list of your main character’s idiosyncrasies? Typical expressions? Romantic history?”

    My hero’s eyes are a milk chocolate brown color. There is not clear-cut bad guy, and none of them are old enough for college. My heroine’s most embarrassing moment was when the love interest caught her singing and started singing along (before they were close). My hero absolutely HATES flashing lights, and she has to wear sunglasses indoors when it’s really bad. She twitches when she drinks carbonated drinks, and she refuses to eat Mac and cheese with a spoon. Her typical expression gives her a quick-witted, friendly look that tends to drive people in. She has had only one “serious” boyfriend in the past: Donovan.

    Oh ho ho. I’m on fire, lads. But in all seriousness, I’ll be using this interview for all of my characters. It’s so thorough and it’s going to be really helpful. Thank you!


  1. […] Interviewing your characters should be a vital part of your outlining process  […]

  2. […] 100+ Questions to Help You Interview Your Character on Helping Writers become Authors – I follow this blogger on twitter (@KMWeiland) and love her writing questions of the day. This post includes her version of a character interview as well as a link to her free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters which has a much longer and detailed list. […]

  3. […] Interviewing your characters should be a vital part of your outlining process.  […]

  4. […] I used my own Q&A worksheet, but found it much easier to use someone else’s. I follow K.M. Weiland’s blog and used her great […]

  5. […] to those who do not love to write fiction but giving the pen to your character, whether through a character interview or free-write, and letting whatever comes up come up, can deliver far more than a list of […]

  6. […] One of the tips offered is conducting character interviews. A resource mentioned is K.M. Weiland’s article entitled “100+ Questions to Help You Interview Your Character.” […]

  7. […] 100+ Questions to Help You Interview Your Characters […]

  8. […] list of questions to ask your characters from Gotham Writers.  Also review this wonderful list of 100 questions to ask your characters`from K.M. Weiland.  She also has  a free e-book called Crafting Unforgettable Characters that you […]

  9. […] If I run into any issues with building a character, or characters, I get out the trusty old composition book and do a character interview. […]

  10. […] my characters (and there are plenty of good character questionnaires on the […]

  11. […] 100+ Questions to Help You Interview Your Character (via Helping Writers Become Authors) […]

  12. […] Here’s another link from K.M. Weiland with 100+ questions for your character. […]

  13. […] utilize K.M. Weiland’s character interview, but there are several available across the internet. You can also write up your […]

  14. […] The site itself is really helpful, and I strongly suggest checking it out. Some great posts include 100+ Questions To Help You Interrogate Your Character, How To Write the Perfect Plot, The 6 Best Ways to Rewrite Your Book, and How To Structure […]

  15. […] 100 questions for interviewing your characters […]

  16. […] Weiland has developed a comprehensive 100 question interview on her blog and you can get it here.  I decided that I would give it a go as a part of my own […]

  17. […] go through to complete the mission. K.M. Weiland suggested 100+ questions to ask my characters, https://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/interviewing-your-characters/. The interviews gave me an appreciation for my characters as they start their […]

  18. […] you like this concept, but prefer more specific questions? Here‘s a similar approach with more of an interview style. Developed by the one and only K. […]

  19. […] them on the couch and find out about their childhoods! There are lots of good tools online, like here, but I find myself a good interview document and get busy thinking about my main character’s […]

  20. […] 100+ Questions to Help You Interview Your Character […]

  21. […] If you would like some tips for building a memorable character – how to actually make these 5 things happen on the page – check out my Creating Believable Characters video from last week.  I also highly recommend Lindsey Summers’ Skillshare video, and KM Weiland’s character interview blog post. […]

  22. […] find my best results when I use a guided interview process with specific questions. I have curated a list of over 100 questions, which I use on all my POV characters and […]

  23. […] are adapted from HERE, a post from Allison Maruska, and a list I still had from a creative writing class in […]

  24. […] next set are from Helping Writers Become Authors. They have a nice infograph and a character interview sheet that you can print to develop your […]

  25. […] point-of-view, which was when I really had to get to know Bunty properly. Using K M Weiland’s 100+ Questions to help you interview your Character and the 35 questions attributed to Proust, I came to understood in more depth the man who’d […]

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