top of page

Building An In-Depth Character by DW Harvey

I would like to welcome guest writer, DW Harvey. Enjoy!


Characters are a book’s lifeblood. To capture a reader’s interest, a protagonist or antagonist should feel real, genuine, and authentic, like they could step out from between the pages and come to life. A great character is someone a reader wants to get to know better and maybe take out for a cup of coffee.

A flat, one-note character can make a reader lose interest. Have you ever put down a book because you just couldn’t identify with the heroine? Did the villain seem one-dimensional?

On the other hand, a vibrant and well-rounded character, with a solid backstory and clear motivations, can help drive your narrative forward and completely hook the reader. Whether they fall in love (or hate) with them, a reader will want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.

So, where do you start? The physical aspects are probably the easiest.

· Is your character tall or short?

· Are they lanky or barrel-chested?

· Are they athletic or clumsy?

· Do they have blonde hair or red?

· Do they have blue eyes or hazel?

· Do they have any tattoos, scars, birthmarks?

Additionally, characters need to be relatable and believable, like someone you could pass by in the grocery store or the dog park. To create a rich and full-of-life character, you need to go deeper and add layers to their persona. A great way to really get to know your character is to interview them. Find out what makes them tick, what drives them.

Although a lot of this information will not end up in the pages of your book, it will help you understand your characters better and enrich your writing. There are a multitude of questions for your to ask your characters. Below are a few categories and sample questions to get you started on developing an in-depth character.

Quirks & Mannerisms

· Does your character talk fast? Do they have an accent?

· Do they play with their hair or bite their fingernails?

· Do they always (or never) say ‘thank you’ and ‘please’?

· Are they a wallflower or a social butterfly?

Family & Friends

· Does your character have a big or small family?

· Are they close to their family?

· Do they have a significant other?

· Do they have lots of friends?

· How do their family and friends shape their lives?

· Do they have a pet?


· Does your character have a specific fear like heights, spiders, or public speaking?

· What keeps them up at night?

· Are they running toward their fears or away from them?

· Are they a daredevil?

· What is something they’d never do?


· Is your character religious/spiritual?

· Do they believe in a higher power?

· Are they superstitious?

· Do they believe in an afterlife or reincarnation?


· What is your character passionate about?

· Do they face their emotions or compartmentalize them?

· Do they wear their heart on their sleeve, or are they more reserved?

· Do they use jokes to deflect their feelings?

· Do they have a temper?


· Is your character book smart or street smart?

· Did they finish high school or go to college?

· Were they in the military?

· Do they have a vocation?

· Are they doing what they love to do?

Likes & Dislikes

· What is their favorite music?

· Favorite book?

· Favorite sports team?

· Favorite food?

· What are their least favorite of the above?



DW Harvey writes tales of Urban Fantasy inspired by the myth, legend, and folklore of the hidden world beneath the veil of what's visible.



bottom of page