Get To Know Your Characters before You Write Your Novel by Beth Barany

Beth Barany is back with us and here’s the first of her two part blog about creating great characters for your story….

Many authors want to get to know their writers better before they write their novels but don’t know where to begin. One way to get to know them is to interview them. I love thinking about my characters and answering all the brainstorming questions that I have for them. I use these questions for every novel I plan. Adapt these to your process!

Use these questions as a guideline.


  • Strengths
  • Hopes
  • Fears
  • Dreams
  • Major turning point(s) in their past as it relates to the story (backstory)
  • Important relationships
  • Dress/clothing/significant objects
  • Secrets
  • Identity and core beliefs
  • Emotional center


You can use the questions below to guide you as you draft your notes.


Interview Your Characters

Imagine one of your characters is sitting across the table from you, sipping a beverage, and looking at you. Keep your story in mind as you ask questions. Interview them and take notes. If you don’t know your story at all yet, all the better. Let the interview unfold their story. Ask for specifics. Be detailed. Specifically, use sensory details, such as sight, sound, smell, touch, touch, and the internal body experiences.


If you have more than one main character in your story, answer these questions for each of them, including the antagonist or villain, and other important secondary characters.

Keep in mind your genre. This will give you a general idea of the kinds of characters that work best for the story you’re writing. Also keep in mind how you think your character where they start from and how they will change.


For our characters to feel real, relatable, engaging, and compelling, we need to know them well. For some writers, myself included, I really get to know my characters when I’m writing the first draft and when I’m editing. But I don’t skip this planning step. The answers you come up with will guide you with the rest of the planning, and when you’re writing and editing.


Look for part two on Thursday.

Writing How Tos Writing Tips

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