The reason we're here is because we *love* these characters and we want to see how they behave once they're filtered through our brains. Here's a nifty tool for us to play around with that's a good way to get a handle on just what makes the SatW characters (though it works just as well for OC's) tick.
This characterization sheet is a good way to get into your favorite character's head and we can post answers to questions and talk about it. Many of them are open-ended and subject to change. It's certainly not necessary to answer *every* question as it's quite long, but it's a good segue into writing believable behavior for just about any country/territory/region either in the comic or your own head.
How old does s/he appear?
Glasses or contacts?
Distinguishable hair feature (bald, receding hairline, etc.):
Type of hair (coarse, fine, thick, etc?)
Type of body/build:
Most predominant feature:
Is s/he healthy?
If not, why not:
Mode of transportation:
What? How often?
Drinks: What? How often?
Worst bad habit?
Most important childhood event that still affects him/her: Why?
Booksmart or streetsmart?
Religion and/or religious views and/or tendencies?
Firsts: Job? Kiss? Sexual experience?
Relationship with each:
Children of Siblings:
Close to family?
Does character have child(ren)?
How many? Are all children with the same partner?
If no, why not?
What is the custody arrangement?
How does character relate to his/her child(ren)?
Which child is character's favorite? Why?
Character's most favorite memory of his/her child(ren)?
Character's least favorite memory of his/her child(ren)?
Is relationship with children good?
Is the relationship with children important to character?
Where does character work?
How many years?
Like his/her job?
Why or why not?
Worst thing that could happen to him/her?
What single event would most throw character's life in complete turmoil?
Character is most at ease when:
Most ill at ease when:
How s/he feels about self:
Past failure s/he would be embarrassed to have people know about:
If granted one wish, what would it be? Why?
Daredevil or cautious? Same when alone?
Character's darkest secret:
Does anyone else know? If yes, did character tell them? If no, how did they find out?
Greatest source of strength in character's personality (whether s/he sees it as such or not):
Greatest source of weakness in character's personality (whether s/he sees it as such or not):
Character's soft spot: Is this soft spot obvious to others? If not, how does character hide it? why hide it?
Which of the 7 deadly sins does character fight (or give into, willingly or not)? (lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, pride)
Which of the 7 virtues does your character have (or fight against)? (chastity, abstinence, generosity, diligence, patience, kindness, humility)
_Optimist or _pessimist?
_Introvert or _extrovert?
Drives and motivations?
Extremely skilled at:
Extremely unskilled at:
INTERRELATION WITH OTHERS
Has character ever cheated on any signficant other?
How does character relate to others?
How is s/he perceived by... Strangers?
First impression character makes is:
What happens to change this perception?
What do family/friends like most about character?
What do family/friends like least about character?
Long range goal(s):
How does character plan to accomplish goal(s)?
How will other people around character be affected?
How character react in a crisis (calm/panic/etc.)?
How does character face problems?
Kinds of problems character usually runs into:
How does character react to NEW problems?
How does character react to change?
Drives a ... :
Spending habits (frugal, spendthrift, etc)?
What does s/he do too much of? Too little of?
Most prized possession: Why?
Play musical instrument? Which one(s)? How did s/he learn?
Does character like animals? Any pets?
Likes what kind of music?
Owns a computer? If not, why not?Uses computer for business, pleasure, both? Play computer games? If yes, which game(s)? If yes, how many hours per day?
Person character secretly admires:
Person character was most influenced by:
Most important person in character's life before story starts: Why?6/11/2012 . Edited 7/13/2012 #1
Thanks for that. I don't think we could have gotten any use out of it the other way.7/13/2012 . Edited 7/15/2012 #2
To get some more balls rolling, here are my basic guidelines for writing the five Nordics:
Denmark--The most important thing I have to remind myself of is that he's not stupid--impulsive and frequently tipsy, but clever enough when he puts his mind to it, plus he's a bit of a schemer. His social IQ is quite impressive; he's outgoing almost to a fault and charismatic enough that no one really dislikes him even when he's causing problems. He's skittish and prone to various phobias, but when the chips are down, he'll put everything on the line for his friends. When in doubt, have him drink a beer or come on to someone, usually Norway.
Sweden--He's levelheaded, yes, but more importantly, he thinks he's more levelheaded than he actually is. It's actually pretty easy to set him off because he's so finicky and uptight. He tends to place himself as the leader of the Nordics, and fortunately the others don't usually object since he is after all the smart one. He's very conscientious about his behavior and easily embarrassed by emotional outbursts no matter who is displaying them. When in doubt, have him say something sarcastic.
Norway--Of all the Nordics, he's the most reactive (rather than proactive). He's actually the closest thing to a "straight man" out of the lot of them. He's almost superhumanly patient and good-humored about the chaos the others engender, and he's especially forgiving of Denmark. In fact, if it won't cause trouble, he tends to go along with whatever Denmark wants. But he does have his limits. When in doubt, have him do something involving fish--catching them, eating them, or just playing with the one he always seems to carry around.
Finland--He's pretty easy to write for since the dialogue is negligible and only consists of one word, sometimes repeated. The rest of the time, he glares, scowls, waves his knife, and drinks whatever's in that bottle he always has. When there's nothing he particularly needs to do at the moment, he retreats into the background and lets the others hash things out. He always knows more than he lets on. When in doubt, have him act like a dick to Sweden.
Iceland--He, conversely, is the hardest of the Nordics to write for. He's almost more a collection of really strange quirks than a character, and it can be hard to strike the right balance of weirdness. He's good for performing outlandish physical stunts and saying disconcerting things about any given situation. When in doubt, mention something about the sparkles--I love that they apparently have a semi-independent existence and I also see them as a sort of "health and mood gauge" for Iceland.7/15/2012 #3
A few more characters:
Åland--A necessary component of any story involving Sweden's home life...but there's not much else for him to do. His personality is a perfect storm of Sweden's values and Finland's temper, and I like to think one of the things Sweden loves about him is that he'll actually do all the brutally vicious things Sweden restrains himself from doing. Together they act like an old married couple--no turbulent romantic angst, just lots and lots of sweetness interspersed with ritualistic arguments over inconsequential things.
America--Picture a Labrador retriever the size of a rhinoceros and then add a cat's utter sense of self-importance. America means well, but he's an overgrown teenager with way more power than he knows how to handle responsibly. He's at his best when a) others need help, and b) the quickest way to help them just might involve blowing something up. He watches too much TV and has a hard time sorting out reality from fiction.
Sister America--All of the above, plus delusions of cosmopolitan savvy. She thinks she's dangerously liberal, but it's more that she adopts one pet cause after another, only to flush them down into the New York sewers as soon as they cease to be convenient. Ask her for her opinion on Darfur, and she'll tell you how horrible it is that poachers keep clubbing the poor baby Dars over the head.
Canada--He grew up with those two and still has to live next to them. He copes by focusing on their good points (They mean well!), venturing a little mild sarcasm now and again, and not making any sudden moves. A running gag I've given him is that when stressed out, he swears in "Canadian," which means saying things like "Gosh darn it!" and "For crying out loud!"7/28/2012 #4
Germany- Personally one of my top three favorite characters in this strip. He appears to be untidy, but in reality that's just because the Nordics are hyper-clean. He lives in a modest two-story house in a trendy Berlin neighborhood, but often holidays in the Mountains or with Austria. He doesn't really like to think about the "glory days", and whenever his brother is brought up he cowers in the corner. Despite this, he's the de facto leader the European Union and is quite content to have all of the member nations as friends. He likes rock music and ethnic food stands on Berlin street corners.
Bavaria- a party-hardy teenager getting a head-start on quality German facial hair and the son of Sister Germany and Austria. Bavaria lives in the countryside and doesn't like his stepdad (Germany). Bavaria doesn't care for big cosmopolitan cities and prefers the preserved old city of Munich, where he lives. While Germany is afraid of Nazi and is Eurocentric, Bavaria frequently has under-the-table meetings with Nazi Germany and is very Euroskeptic; he hates the fact that his stepdad is always using his income to bail out the poorer people in the EU. While Germany prefers good old rock music, Bavaria is almost possessed by the works of Wagner and Richard Strauss. He doesn't just represent the state of Bavaria, but all of southern Germany, which usually subscribe to the same voting pattern as Bavaria.
Austria- A triple Ph.D. in psychology, chemistry, and music. He has much of the same views as Bavaria, but is much more mellow about it. When he's not charging through the nose for psychiatrist appointments or creating new ways to split an atom, he's usually to be found conducting one of Vienna's fine musical ensembles, whether it's the Vienna Philharmonic doing a Mahler or Bruckner symphony, the Vienna Opera performing Mozart, or just a string quartet in a city square playing a Johann Strauss waltz.1/21/2015 #5
Here's some more. Most of these are characters I'm developing in my works.
Poland- Sort of like if Norway had Sweden's influence. Poland is the leader of the Central Europeans, even though everyone in that region (save one) hates him for various reasons; mostly just because he's Poland. He's very geeky and has the social graces of a large rock. He's been tormented and bullied so badly over the course of history that he's developed PTSD, from which sprouted kleptomania. He's often depressed, and when he is he drinks copious amounts of vodka. However, being battered around has also helped make him the most devoutly Catholic country in Europe save Vatican himself. His personality can strike others as quiet, very shy, and overly polite. His best friend is Hungary. The two of them are inseparable, except is Poland's been captured by the enemy (which is often). Poland is very submissive, often recoiling in the face of attack by another instead of standing up for himself. However, when he's had enough, he often explodes and then people don't want to mess with him. His awkward-turtle-ness often frustrates his personal life, even though he has a crush on Sister Sweden. And speaking of her...
Sister Sweden- Dismissed by the majority of the fellow Nordics as a complete whore, Sister Sweden is probably the most misunderstood character in this fandom. Yes, she gets around, but she's also a chess master (she can hold her own against not only her brother, but Russia and Austria as well), a fighter, and (if you can get close enough) one of the best friends you'll ever have. She's loyal, kind, compassionate to those in need or pain, and quite smart. She likes things punctual and orderly like her brother, but is a little looser and allows more give if things don't go according to plan.
Estonia- Sort of like the Poland of the Baltics. She's completely different from Latvia and Lithuania, so she often seeks comfort in the arms of Finland, her main love interest (he, for the most part, does not return that feeling). She is practically Finland in female form, but with a few exceptions: she's quite ebullient and conversational, and she doesn't want to gut everyone around her. Her personality often clashes with Finland's antisocial one, but they get along all right.
Faroe Islands and Greenland- I'm doing these two in tandem because, let's face it, this is the ship that everyone knows is true but doesn't yet realize. They both whale often and hate their overlord (Denmark) to a remarkable degree. Greenland is often drunk (like Denmark) but instead hides in his house, trying to keep warm and from dying of frostbite during the harsh winter months. Faroes does the same, but he also spends a considerable amount of time in Danish internet cafés deriding anti-whalers and the LGBT community (on religious grounds) on online forums, even though he doesn't go to church that often. The irony about this is that he harbors a well-hidden and oft-beaten-into-submission attraction to his best friend.
Hungary- the most eccentric nation in Europe other than possibly Portugal. Not only does he use a language that is so far removed from the European language tree that not even the Central Asians (who settled his land) can understand, but he also seems to be a hodgepodge of cultures, mostly reflecting a more accessible and less pretentious version of Austria. He, too, likes to study the latest scientific literature and classical music, but he's also more outgoing and friendly to others than his neighbor. The only country that he doesn't get along with is Slovakia. They absolutely despise each other, and probably would have come to blows several times if it weren't for Poland's diplomatic acumen. Poland is also his best friend.
Czechoslovakia- Yes, yes, these are two separate countries now, but these siblings are often referred to as their old name when both are being called. Slovakia is like the goth chick of Europe- she often dresses in blacks and greys, doesn't like people in general, and despises her southerly neighbor Hungary. She clashes often with her brother, Czech Republic. He looks like Germany but acts like Austria. He loves to drink with Germany and occasionally Denmark. He's also schizophrenic. His split personality is Moravia, who is more like Bavaria- drinks a lot more and is a farmer. Moravia calls him Bohemia.
Confederate America- A more easygoing and accessible figure than his brother, Confederate America is, nonetheless, disliked by the majority of the world because of what he stood for. However, he mostly disagreed with the tactics his sister used, and he hates her for it. He had to fight against America while she sat back and relaxed. He didn't own slaves, but didn't think that America had the right to tell anyone that. Nowadays, he's homeless and often takes refuge in the backyards of Appalachian states, producing moonshine to bootleg all over Dixie.2/9/2015 . Edited 3/23/2015 #6
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