Creating and Developing a Character for a Witness Role


This article will primarily cover how to create a character for a witness.

Before we begin, let’s list out the three different witnesses there are in a Mock Trial case. The three most common witness types are:

  • Fact Witnesses – A witness that can give testimony that is limited to what they’ve observed or personally experienced.
  • Character Witnesses – A witness that can give background about the defendant–both good and bad experiences.
  • Expert Witnesses – A witness that can infer opinions due to their expert knowledge in a specified field.

Developing the Character

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.~ Arthur Ashe

Developing a character may seem daunting but it’s quite simple. You use what you have based on the context clues given in the witness statement. If your character is a farmer, you may want to dress down a little (depending on if it’s allowed by the competition rules) and talk like a local farmer. If your character is a sophisticated CEO, you may want to dress up more and sound like a city slicker business person.

If you’re stuck on character development, try watching a movie or TV show. See how the main character acts and portrays their character. Look at the way they talk, dress, and use hand movements.

For example, take Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks). If you’ve watched Forrest Gump, you see the way Forrest Gump talks, walks, acts, and dresses fits his character. In contrast, Tom Hanks probably doesn’t talk, walk, or dress like Forrest Gump in real life. Your goal is to become an actor and play the character presented in your affidavit.

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump in one of the famous bench scenes. Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Another point to note! You should be careful and try not to use stereotypes. This is where character development becomes tricky because we don’t want to intentionally make anyone uncomfortable.

The Four Questions for Character Development

  • How does my witness talk?
    • Does my witness use slang?
    • Does my witness talk with a certain accent?
    • Does my witness talk professionally or not?
  • How does my witness dress?
    • Does my witness have a certain hair style?
    • Does my witness wear glasses?
    • If allowed, does my witness wear something other than a suit and tie?
    • Does my witness wear boring dress socks or interesting socks?
  • How does my witness act?
    • How does my witness walk?
    • How would my witness sit in a chair?
    • Does my witness want attention?
  • What impression do I want to give?
    • Is my witness funny?
    • Do I want to be happy? sad? anxious?
    • Does my witness want sympathy? Does my witness cry?
    • Is my witness well-mannered or ill-mannered?


Yes, this article is short.

Developing a character for a witness is like developing a character as an actor. You just use context clues in the witness statement just like an actor would use context clues in a script. Your job as a witness is to develop a character that people would easily understand and enjoy.

If you’re wondering how to develop your character even further, check out our guide on how to portray your character as a witness.