in English Language, Essay Technique, Writing Skills

To help you brainstorm, we’ve put together this list of 10 descriptive writing prompts – but it’s focused on developing a character. 

If you want to become a better writer, the best thing you can do for yourself is practise writing every single day. Writing prompts are useful because we know sometimes it can be hard to think of what to write about.

Whether you write short stories, poems or just like to keep a journal – these descriptive writing prompts will help you stretch your imagination and give you some ideas for topics to write about. 


In our Advanced Descriptive Writing course, we talk about this further. Looking at the magic formula you need to create not only your characters but also their story arc, so make sure you visit our English Literature and Language school!


10 Character-based Descriptive Writing Prompts: 

The first thing you want to do is to start thinking about your characters as your friends. Whether it’s describing Macbeth from Shakespeare’s play, or Romeo from the evergreen book, or is it some guy or girl that’s not even connected to anything, but just your own creation. Understanding how they think, how they feel and understand what they want. This information is key to creating characters that come alive. 

Spending time to get into your character’s heads is never time wasted. 

  •  It will help you see the world through your character’s eyes 
  • It will help you find a story that your character must tell 
  • It will help you show the reader what your character’s life is like
  • It will help you know what genre you are writing 

Developing a Character 

It all starts with your character – there cannot be a story without one. Before you can fully develop their arc, you need to know who they are and what they want. You need to know them inside out and back to front. What makes them tick? What makes them happy? Who are they really? 

Prompts that will help you develop a Character

  1. Describe your character in three words. 
  2. Pick one event from your characters’ past that has had the most impact on them. Write about it in detail. 
  3. What was your characters’ family life like? How did this affect who they are? 
  4. How would your character react if they were happy? Sad? Excited? Scared? In love?
  5. What are your characters’ deepest darkest fears? 
  6. What does your character want? Why do they want it? 
  7. What is your character like at the beginning of the story? What are they like at the end? How has your character changed? Can you describe this change? 
  8. How does your character look like? What do they wear, how do they sound? 
  9. Are they trustworthy, a good friend? Are they loyal and reliable? If not, why? 
  10. What makes your character special or different? 

Characters and plot are so closely linked, it’s hard to separate them. How your character changes and develops, that’s the story, but without knowing in great detail who your character is and what they want, it will be hard to know the shape of the story. 

Developing your characters won’t be a quick task. It should keep you on your toes throughout the novel, as the story unfolds your characters will develop and grow and you’ll need to ensure this growth fits with the character arc and the story. You’ll need to do this work for all your characters too, no matter how big or small, you’re going to have to put the work in to bring them all to life.


Thanks for reading! If you need any help and support with your English Language and Literature, visit our online school where you can find courses like these but also much more exclusive things! 

Basic Descriptive Writing

Advanced Descriptive Writing

AQA GCSE English Language Paper 1 and Paper 2

If you want more descriptive writing prompts we’ve talked about in the past, you can find them here

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