laila
08 February 2011 @ 03:32 pm
On Headcanon  
The sun is in my eyes, the cat is in next door's yard doing cat things, and I just dropped [livejournal.com profile] somarium.

No particular dramas there or anything - I just didn't feel I was pulling my weight any more and the best thing to do about that was probably to just go, end of story, rather than take yet another hiatus that might well not have solved the problem. I already kind of miss it and feel a bit sad about letting Ken go there, but sticking with it just because I knew I'd feel bad about going wouldn't have been fair on everyone else. If I'm going to be a flake and try and work out if my RP drive has gone or just gone underground for a time, the least I can do is do it on my own time and not leave anyone else hanging.

Besides, I'd been playing him there for almost a year, from February 2010 until, well, yesterday - whatever happens next, he had a damn good run and I had a damn good time. Don't be sad because it's over, be glad because it happened, I guess. I'll get there, for now I'm just a little caught up feeling low.

In an attempt to take my mind off things, or just to honor my passing in some weird way that makes sense only to myself and even then only barely, here's a meme I saw posted during my time in the game. Specifically it's on head canon: on the weird little things that long-term RPing, or even long-term ficcing, sees people adding to their take on a character for no more reason than situations are going to arise that lead to the ficcer or roleplayer having to fill gaps and plug holes - basically they're eventually going to have to start making things up. Even the most comprehensive of canons is unlikely to cover everything, and Weiss Kreuz is absolutely not the most comprehensive of canons.

Share (around) fifteen little-known facts/headcanon tidbits/personal quirks for your character(s) and bask in your new-found wealth of information!

Get your writing excitement going by incorporating these neat little bits where you can, or by coming up with new ones!

I didn't answer it then, for various reasons that are far too tedious to rehearse but must have made sense to me at the time. Either I was on hiatus or my computer was acting up or I was deeply uninspired and just couldn't think of fifteen things to say about Ken, weirdly: something like that, anyway. Still, one way or another I'll definitely be writing Ken again in the future - of course I will, I'm me - so when I remembered this meme existed it still seemed worth the doing and, having been done, worth sharing after the fact.

Most of these facts are... well, more kind of not. Where they're canonical, I'll explain where I got it. Otherwise, assume I made it up.

  • Ken's favorite type of music is J-pop and he secretly fanboys Ayumi Hamasaki. His major complaint with the radio station J-Wave is it plays the Titanic song way too much. He doesn't like the Titanic song; it sounds depressing and it's stupidly overplayed.

  • He likes to cook and though he's not exactly what anyone would call brilliant at it at this stage in the game and pays no attention whatsoever to the small matter of presentation, he's perfectly competent. He learned through sheer necessity: when in training it was expected he'd eat regularly and healthily, and while Ken isn't at all averse to convenience food or snacks, he doesn't want to live off them. His favorite food, as confirmed in the Theater of Pain Drama CD, is curry rice.

  • Ken is a morning person, though it might be truer to say he has a lot of energy as he's perfectly capable of being a night owl too. He's capable of getting by on very little sleep, but is happier when he's properly rested. His morning routine involves getting up at around six or half past, going for a run, taking a quick shower then preparing breakfast. You will eat breakfast or he'll hit you.

  • He'd have made rather a good soldier. As revealed in the A Four Leaf Clover Drama CD, Ken was trained as an urban guerilla by a bunch of crazy survivalists in the mountains. His stated aim while there was to destroy the group from the inside, something he ultimately achieved by setting the members against one another, but Kritiker took the excuse to get him combat-ready for free as well. Which wins some kind of award for sheer brazenness. He became scarily proficient with firearms while there - he's perfectly comfortable using a machine gun, and taking down a helicopter with an RPG is no mean feat - but while he's rather good with guns, he just doesn't like using them much.

  • Where the rest of Weiss are cat people, Ken is a dog person. if he had a spirit animal it'd probably be a Shiba Inu.

  • Ken wants children - maybe not right now, but definitely someday - and has done since he was a kid himself. It's not something he's obsessive about and he's realistic enough to know that his being able to settle down and start a family is about as likely as being picked for the next manned space flight, but he still wants them.

  • Though Ken is extremely ambitious, he left school at fifteen and never even sat his high school entrance exams: as a rising athlete he already knew what he wanted to do with his life and was working under the assumption that he simply wouldn't need to go. Though things really didn't work out as he planned, Ken doesn't particularly regret not going.

  • He's actually a pretty decent florist. Ken didn't start out enjoying the work any more than the rest of his teammates and still wishes he could do something else from time to time, but he takes the job seriously and it's bred a certain enthusiasm in him. He's the kind of person who hates to be idle, meaning he works hard; he's also enough of a perfectionist to want to do the things he does well, and if that means learning how to take care of plants, arrange flowers so they actually look good and put together Hello Kitty bouquets then that's what he'll do.

  • Ken is quietly religious, but not superstitious. He hasn't been to church for some time but is definitely culturally Catholic.

  • He likes computer games and owns a couple of consoles. Ken has no particular interest in playing sports sims (why bother when playing sport for real is much more fun?), beat 'em ups (too much like work) or first-person shooters (not exactly escapism if you're him, though he makes an exception for arcade games and Time Crisis). He's much fonder of platform games, though most of the new ones aren't that great, driving games and the occasional RPG. Before buying his own machines he spent most of his life as Player Two, and was always Tails in Sonic 2 when he was a kid because Kase's an ass.

  • He is bisexual, though hasn't really acknowledged this even to himself: Kase was just his friend and there was absolutely nothing funny going on there at all, really! Ken has no time for the adage about opposites attracting; he likes to share interests with his partners and thinks a good place to take a date is a tennis court. He is most interested in confident, outgoing, tomboyish girls who are slightly older than he is and prepared to take the lead (read: he has absolutely no idea what he's doing and needs serious help).

  • Ken is short. About five foot three, to be exact. Canon opinion varies on this, as it does about... well, everything else in the show, but the only source that actually takes into account the very obvious height differences between the boys says he's 160 cms tall.

  • He likes, for a given value of the word 'likes', watching bad movies. Bad American action movies in particular, but he'll take pretty much anything as long as it's laughable in a not-boring way. Preferably in company so he can complain about them. One of the ways to tell that he's watching a film he actually likes is he won't be talking all the way through and will likely get annoyed if anyone else tries to talk to him.

  • Ken is a bit of a hausfrau, probably because he's the one who gets most annoyed when things haven't been done or food stocks start to run out. He's usually the one who ends up loading the washing machine and buying dish soap, rice and soy sauce. He's not totally sure if the others even realize food doesn't materialize in the fridge and cupboards by magic. When choosing toiletries, he buys whatever's on offer at the time. The only thing he really has a strong opinion about is toothpaste and that's only because he likes the way the brand he uses tastes.

  • He knows a lot more about Dragonball Z than he'll admit.

That would be everything that's unduly influencing me when I sit down to write about Ken. A fair amount of stuff gleaned from canonical back alleys, a fair amount of stuff I just randomly made up because I needed something and canon wasn't going there, and I thought it sounded right. The J-pop thing, for example - I spent ages trying to work out what Ken's musical tastes ran to, somebody suggested J-pop, perhaps as a joke... it felt right to me from the first moment and it stuck thereafter. That's kind of how this whole thing works for me - bits get picked up from here, there and everywhere, creating a crazy kind of katamari of characterization. I can but hope it seems partway logical all the same.

The end result is my take on Ken and the whole reason I write about him so much. Honestly I think it works rather well. I like him, anyway.
 
 
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laila
23 January 2011 @ 09:20 pm
Who Are You Again?  
So, we all know I have a problem with Mary Sues, right? Yadda yadda change the record, laila. I know you're not even very good at doing that with actual music (just how many times have you listened to The Boxer in the last few days apart from Far Too Many, anyway), but you could at least try not to keep on subjecting other people to this stuff, right? Sadly, I can't. Because once again I think - or like to think anyway - that I have found something new this time.

The context? This, and that's the condensed version. The wank that spawned the comment that spawned this rant - focusing on an overpowered blond-haired blue ponything - was a bit of a doozy, if only for the sheer degree of Not Getting It its creator exhibited.

Long story short, there are speshul snowflakes out there, and of course they're bloody infuriating. These snowflakes are created by people who insist that every single ridiculous talent and every single angsty incident that they've piled on the character's beautiful and shapely shoulders forms an integral part of who and what they are to the extent that if even one of those powers was removed or scaled back, or if a single angsty incident was omitted from their tragic past, the character would become broken and unplayable. Because, you know, it's absolutely vital to their sense of self that they play the piano beautifully and sensitively, and were bullied in middle school for Insert Legitimately Angsty Reason here.

The problem is that this isn't an entirely ridiculous idea. It takes a perfectly valid character-building technique - that personal circumstances and history play a vital role in building and shaping character - and turns it into something completely stupid.

The end result is both horrible and predictable.


Yup. This would be Scarlet of Before the Last Cherry Blossom Falls ((FantasyRomance.Open)), the beautiful, saintly, long-suffering and totally legitimately angst-ridden creation of an RPer who goes by the not at all OTT alias of 'ScarletWingsofDestiny'. No, I don't think the fact that her creator has 'Scarlet' in her screenname and has at least two other saintly, long-suffering strawberry-blonde OCs named Scarlet is a coincidence either. The truly terrifying thing? Even other Gaia RPers think that 'ScarletWingsofDestiny' is a Suethor. If you're repelling the kind of people who join a Pokemon RP entitled Discover Your Destiny ((Pokemon. Please Join. Need People)) on Gaia Online, you probably need to think a little harder about what you're doing.

Which brings me to the heart of this rant, and the thing I wanted to highlight.

If you cannot write about your OC without falling back on their speshul powers of speshulness and angst past of angst, you need to go back to the drawing board and start again. Only adding an actual personality this time.

Past angst and speshul powers of speshulness are optional extras. They're nice enough, I guess, but they aren't any kind of substitute for possessing an actual personality. Going on about how special your character is and how tragic their past was doesn't actually tell us anything about them. It tells a reader where they come from and that you think that we should be impressed with them for overcoming it anyway and being so awesomely shiny, but it doesn't tell us what the Hell they are like. You should still be able to tell a reader who the Hell your character actually is without mentioning their terrible past, their special abilities or deeply significant bling - or, for thatr matter, who they're there to hook up with. Because none of that is really about them.

You the author should, in fact, be able to do this without any trouble whatsoever.

Imagine your character wakes up alone in a strange place with no memory of how they got there, no powers, no cool toys, nothing. They can speak the local language, maybe they even know their name, but that's about it. They have to figure out who they are and what's going on and what to do without much of anything to go on. How do they behave? What core traits of their personality are going to come out? If you don't know [...], that would mean that they don't actually have a core personality, or at least not one you're willing or able to explore.

[livejournal.com profile] master_simon

Taking Ken Hidaka and subjecting him to this thought experiment produces the following:

His first reaction would be confusion. That would be very quickly replaced by the desire to look around for who was responsible for stranding him there in the first place. If he saw anyone who looked like they might have something to do with it, he would corner them as quickly as possible and demand to know what was going on. Words would be exchanged and punches might be thrown. He would then set about trying to find a way out of there and back to wherever the Hell he did belong, because it clearly wasn't there. He wouldn't be prepared to believe that nobody knew what had happened to him or could fix it, and would be determined to figure out who and how. He would be far more concerned with getting back to where he was meant to be than with working out who he was: he'd likely figure that could come later. He would not win many friends for himself by virtue of being confused and irritable most of the time, though he'd find it easy enough to get out there and get talking to people.

This, bear in mind, is a character from Weiss Kreuz, a series that is not exactly famed for its deep and nuanced sense of characterization. The main cast are heavily, heavily archetype-based, and for all they're also fairly appealing characters to watch in action, their roots are basically pretty generic. And yet working out what Ken Hidaka would do in the situation above was actually very easy. Because yes he's got gloves and goggles and an orange sweater, and he likes soccer and has an angst past, but he also has a personality. Ken is a self-confident, stubborn, easily confused hothead who'll keep worrying at problems until he's either managed to solve them or, more likely, found someone he can yell at or hit until they solve them.

A basic, non-contradictory personality is absolutely all a character needs for anybody who writes about them to be able to reply to that question both quickly and easily. Because let's face it, this should not be even remotely problematic to answer. If your character is even as well-defined as the ones in Weiss Kreuz, and you understand them about as well as a decent canon-character roleplayer does one of their muses, it should take about five minutes.

Which means anyone who is sitting there scratching their head or complaining that it's Just Too Hard to explain who their character is without falling back on their angst and speshul has created a character who doesn't actually possess a personality. If they as an individual can't work out how to solve a problem as simple as who am I and where is this without falling back on, say, magical powers or their daddy issues then they'tre not actually a character, they're just a loose affiliation of special powers and personal traumas formed into the vague shape of a person. Most likely a person with tumbling locks and curves in all the right places. Cat ears may or may not be involved.

In short, they need to go back and try again. And realize that 'cute, nice, shy, determined, will fight anyone who hurts her friends' doesn't actually cut it when it comes to defining who a character is next time.
 
 
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