Top 40+ Essential Questions For Beta Readers About Character Development In A Story

It can be a little daunting to put together a set of questions to present to your beta reader when you finally get to this stage, and this is something you absolutely do not want.

I am going to assume that you are paying this beta reader and that you both have worked out your expectations for the project.

The thing is that while a professional beta reader will do their best to make sure their feedback is as holistic as possible, they won’t know the pain points to hit on unless you explain adequately.

And at the end of the day, you might end up getting feedback that you feel doesn’t really hit the mark or address your primary concerns, so you need to make sure you’re ready from the get-go.

That’s why I put together these questions that have to do with character development that you can send to your beta reader.

Many of these questions are culled from the questionnaire I usually send to authors I work with, and there hasn’t been any negative feedback so far, so I quite believe I have a good handle on this.

Character development is easily one of the biggest elements of a story, and in order to make sure your characters are fleshed out and super interesting enough to make a reader like or understand them, you need to focus on it.

This is especially true in character-driven stories in genres like romance, women’s fiction, or coming-of-age books, where the character is front and centre to the plot, so any flaws in the development of the characters will have ripple effects on every single element of the story.

So here are more than 40 questions you can send to your beta reader on character development to help you better assess how your characters have been received by a reader.

Remember that not every question on this list will apply to your story, so you want to make sure you pick only the relevant ones so that any reply you get from your beta reader doesn’t end up being redundant and potentially confusing.

Also, I know I tagged this article as questions you can send to your beta readers, but actually, they are also questions you can ask yourself while self-critiquing your book because they can give you a greater sense of how realistic your character is.

I took the effort to divide them up into sections so that you can immediately know which questions you can ask on any particular element of the story, so knock yourself out.

A. Character Impressions and Growth

1. What are your initial impressions of the main character?

2. Did the main character undergo significant growth or change throughout the story?

3. Were the supporting characters well-developed and distinct from one another?

4. Did the interactions between characters feel authentic and natural?

5. Were there any character relationships that you found particularly engaging or lacking?

6. Did the characters’ growth or resolution feel satisfying by the end of the story?

7. Were there any missed opportunities for further character development?

8. Did you feel that the characters’ growth was adequately foreshadowed and earned?

9. Did any characters feel stereotypical or clichéd?

10. Did the characters’ speech patterns or dialects reflect their cultural backgrounds or personalities? How did this play into the actual story?

11. Did the characters’ senses of humor or comedic traits beef up the story’s tone or themes?

12. Are there any characters you think could be made more interesting or more likable?

13. Did you get confused about who’s who in the characters?

14. Were there too many characters to keep track of? Too few? 

15. How does the alternating POV read?

16. Are any of the names of characters too similar?

17. Did the dialogue keep your interest and sound natural to you? If not, whose dialogue did you think sounded artificial or not like that person would speak?

18. Did you relate to the MC? 

19. Which character did you hate the most? Why? Is your hate for them good or bad for the story?

20. What characters should you have hated more? Why didn’t you?

21. Were the characters themselves and their interactions with each other believable? Which ones weren’t, and why?

Also See: How To Be The Best Beta Reader: 20 Essential Dos & Don’ts

    B. Background and Influences

    1. How did the characters’ backgrounds and upbringing influence their behavior and decisions?

    2. Were there any cultural or societal influences that shaped the characters’ identities?

    3. Were there any instances where the characters’ past traumas or experiences shaped their present-day behavior?

    4. Do you feel the theme of the story was well interlinked with the characters’ backgrounds?

    C. Symbolism and Metaphor

    1. Did you notice any symbolism or metaphorical representations attached to the characters?

    2. Did the characters’ names have any significance or symbolic meaning within the story?

    D. Character Flaws and Conflict

    1. Were there any instances where the characters’ flaws or weaknesses drove the plot forward?

    2. Were there any character dynamics or conflicts that you found particularly intriguing?

    3. Did the moral dilemma of the characters feel significant enough to stand on its own?

    4. What do you think of the primary conflict of the story?

    5. Are there any subplots that feel unnecessary to the main storyline?

    6. Were there any instances where the characters faced internal conflicts that weren’t directly related to the main plot?

    E. Physical Appearance and Personality

    1. Did the characters’ physical appearances contribute to their personalities or story arcs?

    2. If you were shown fanart, would you be able to tell the characters apart?

    3. Could you properly envisage the characters based on the description that was provided?

    4. Is there any standout personality or physical trait of any of the characters?

    F. Relationships and Dynamics

    1. Did the characters’ relationships with their families impact their development?

    2. Were there any moments of vulnerability or emotional breakthroughs that resonated with you?

    3. Did the characters’ relationships with animals or pets reveal anything about their personalities or emotional depth?

    4. Were there any instances where you struggled to connect with a character?

    These are some very important questions you can ask yourself or send to your beta reader about the characters in the story, and trust me, by the time you are done answering all of them or supplying adequate answers, you’re going to have a story that would appeal to anybody.

    Here is a link to the Google doc file that contains these questions so that you can simply copy the ones that are relevant to your story.

    Don’t forget that you can check out other posts on the blog to get even more fantastic writing tips from an editor and a beta reader who cares about helping you bring your story to life. 

    Preye http://therookiejurist.com

    Hi! I'm Preye ("pre" as in "prepare" and "ye" as in "Kanye"), and I am a lifelong book lover who enjoys talking about books and sharing bits and pieces of all the fascinating things I come across. I love books so much that I decided to become a developmental editor, and right now, I work with authors to help them tell their stories better. On this blog, I share everything from book recommendations to book reviews and writing tips, so feel free to stop by anytime you like!

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