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20 Prompts to Uncover Characters’ Hearts

20 Prompts to Uncover Characters’ Hearts

Characters! Those cheeky fellas. I love seeking out my characters’ hearts. Finding the deep-down stuff that really makes them tick, and then bringing it out in the story. Normally I’ll spend a lot of time brainstorming this in the early side of my drafting, but I also like to revisit the basics when I hit a roadblock and stall out. Often when I’m stuck, it’s because I have stopped listening to my characters.

Here are some questions that can help you explore your characters and gain new insights. I’ve written them addressed to your character directly, and recommend answering them in your character’s voice (i.e. first person). This is a great way to really get in their head.

20 Prompts to Uncover Characters’ Hearts

  1. What is your favorite place in the world? Why?
  2. When you gets lost in thought, do you think about the past, present, or future?
  3. When something goes wrong, what do you fixate on? (Examples: “What did I do?” “How do I fix it?” “Who’s to blame?”)
  4. When was the first time you experienced beauty?
  5. What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever experienced?
  6. What is one truth about yourself you can’t get away from?
  7. If you could do anything, knowing you would not fail, what would you do?
  8. If you were doing a “three fictional characters” meme on Facebook, who would those characters be? (And is there a difference between who you, the character, think you are, and who you, the author, know the character is?)
  9. What do you want most?
  10. What do you need?
  11. What breaks your heart?
  12. What makes you angry?
  13. If you could change anything about yourself (or your past), what would it be?
  14. When are you most afraid?
  15. What would be a loss beyond bearing?
  16. What do you do (or where do you go) when you need to restore your spirit?
  17. What do you like to spend money on? Or do you prefer to save? Why?
  18. When have you felt most whole?
  19. What is a favorite story from your childhood?
  20. Who (or what) do you love most?

Other question series:

I’d love to hear how these work for you! Leave a comment below and share some of your discoveries with us!

4 Comments 1348 Views


  1. Ooh, questions questions questions…let me probe into your heart, you poor, innocent little main character, and let me dissect all your feelings and emotions. Mwah ha ha ha ha!

    Okay. Apparently my MC is obsessed with socks. Her answer to question 3 was: “I ignore the problem and think about my new turquoise and mauve knee socks.” Wow Addy, that’s SO deep. *facepalm*

    1. Socks can be very comforting! 😀 Sounds like we might have a… sockaholic on our hands. (cue drums)

  2. All your question posts are so well thought-out. They’re one of the best resources I’ve found for really fleshing out characters, especially after the basic stuff’s all been structured.

    1. I’m glad they’re helpful! It’s a good exercise for me to sit down and figure out what exactly I think about as I’m fleshing out characters. I write these as much for myself as you all!

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