Commentary

Character questionnaire

So as I was working on my comic, I was trying to figure out how to make profiles for my characters that would sum up the basic relevant info I need to remember.

There’re lots of character questionnaires around, but they provide lots of trivia, random stuff that’s neat to know, but mostly has nothing to do with the story (like favorite food, color, etc).

So after a few attempts I came up with this template and thought I’d share :v


First name “Nickname” Last name

Quote: Find some famous quote that perfectly captures the character in a sentence or two. Other people should be able to read the quote and immediately understand what kind of person your character is.

Trivia: This is the place for listing basic stuff like age, gender, race, sexuality, occupation, height, weight, zodiac, whatever you feel like may be useful.

Who: Who is this character? This is basically a short description of them. No need to paste the entire plot here, just a few sentences to introduce the most important aspects. Try to differentiate it from their occupation and significance.

Good traits: Pretty self-explanatory.

Neutral traits: Same

Bad traits: If your character has no negative or even neutral traits, that’s a good cause for concern. Keep in mind that bad traits often have positive aspects to them, and vice versa (manipulative personality is a negative trait, but manipulative people tend to be smart and good at reading others, etc).

Significance: Why is this character important to the story? Why do you give them your precious “screentime”?

Relationship: What other characters know them? How do they feel about them? I wouldn’t name EVERY relationship possible if I don’t have anything important to say about it (like if the characters technically know each other, but barely ever exchange a word), but that’s up to you.

Likes: Hobbies, interests, objects, concepts, behaviors, etc.

Dislikes:

Goals/motivation: What drives your character? What makes them wake up and go about their day? What would they like to achieve at the end of your story? It can range from “save the world” to just “provide for their family” or “live a quiet happy life”. The last example is pretty bland though, so try to not use it with no good reason.

Conflict: Five main types of conflicts. If your character is of any importance, I’d recommend having at least one of those, it would make them more interesting and compelling. And the more the merrier, but of course you don’t HAVE to force in all five. I usually use the first three of them. The basic formula is “the character is X, but Y is Z” (see example below).

  1. Man vs. Self: The inner conflict. What traits stop the character from achieving their goals?
  2. Man vs. Man: The conflict with some other character. What kind of opposition do they meet from other individuals? Who do they disagree with and why?
  3. Man vs. Society: The outer conflict. What gripes does the character have with the world around them? It’s especially useful when your setting is pretty unusual. This conflict justifies that unusual setting, allowing you to get creative with its rules and consequences.
  4. Man vs. Nature: A natural obstacle for the character, like a snow storm or a tsunami.
  5. Man vs. God/Supernatural/Fate: Pretty much any elements that defy the laws of nature and are beyond scientific understanding. Maybe it’s a crisis of faith. Maybe it’s terribly bad luck. Maybe it’s blood-sucking mummy werewolves.

Music: This is mostly self-indulgent fun. Pretty much the same deal as the quote: songs that sum up your character. It you’re a greedy indecisive gremlin like me, feel free to divide it in three categories: songs with fitting lyrics only, songs with fitting atmosphere only and songs that fit 100%. Or just list them from the most fitting to the least.

P.S. You know what’s also hella useful? Making aesthetic moodboards. I’m serious, it’s a great exercise at describing your the core of your character with a few limited abstract visuals.

example:

Karkat “Karcrab” Vantas

Quote: “The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.” – Steve Maraboli

Age: 6 solar sweeps (13 yo)

Species: Troll

Zodiac: Cancer

Who: The self-proclaimed leader of the troll’s SBURB session, John’s patron troll.

Good traits: Has his heart in the right place. Even though he screams and throws insults all the time, he doesn’t mean to hurt anyone. Cares about everything and everyone a lot. Actually managed to shepherd the trolls for quite some time.

Neutral traits: Isn’t nearly as violent as some of the other trolls. Rather eloquent in his curses. Cries a lot?

Bad traits: Grumpy, rude, has an explosive temper. Little to no volume control, isn’t exactly patient when explaining stuff. Often attempts to take the wheel, but mostly causes trainwrecks.

Significance[recap the plot here. ironically, Karkat’s significance evaporated exponentially towards the end]

Relationship: Had a crush on Terezi, was quite tsundere about it and had passive-aggressive banter with her all the time. Used to be Gamzee’s best friend, but then shit happened. Has a complicated lovehate for John. blah blah

Likes: Awful romcoms, programming (terrible at it), yelling at others.

Dislikes: His blood, things going not according to plan.

Goals/motivation: Wants to finish the game with minimal body count, fix the mistakes he’s made and prove himself not to be a waste of space. Before the game aspired to join the ranks of the threshecutioners.

Conflict:

  1. Man vs. Self: Karkat wants to be a cool leader, but is too short-tempered/inexperienced/anxious to do so.
  2. Man vs. Man: Karkat wants Terezi to be happy, but is extremely jealous of her relationship with Dave. Karkat wants everyone to get along and doesn’t want to hurt his friend, but Gamzee causes havoc and can’t be reasoned with. [insert pretty much any character here]
  3. Mav vs. Society: Karkat has red blood, but that color is considered undesirable by the trolls.

Music[i’m kinda cheating here because this music is written specifically for him, but you get the idea]

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