Whats in a character?

In the previous post an introduction to a couple of most developed characters was made; Issac and Serene Canning. Whilst neither are the oldest of my recurring faces I would hazard barring one or two others they are without a doubt the easiest for me to write and have seen the most evolution throughout their existence. Both have significance to me as a writer and represent an aspect of myself at their core. Both have been tempered and matured as the years rolled on to their current state.

I will start with Issac. At his creation 8 years ago Issac, then known as Tom Canning was a veiled ‘Mary Sue’ (to those not familiar it’s an idealisation of the author). He was created for a Play by Post forum based in the 1450’s in pre-Renaissance England where there is a heavy roleplaying element behind the in-game user interface and like EVE online everything is player made and run.

Tom represented my ambition and drive. At the time of his creation I was starting to not only develop my career but my interests outside of work, getting increased autonomy and promotion in those areas. This led to an increase in my confidence and strength of will. However, in the real world, I had to play that very carefully. In the game of collaborative storytelling however, consequences are very less significant. I spoke through Tom, the daring charisma, the manipulation and the motivation of other to my own ends. Which given the game he was a part of was all how the game was played. Unlike myself, he was Cavalier to the extreme. Not a bad person, but definitely not a good person either. If we’re to apply an alignment (As per dungeons and dragons)  to Tom. He would be Lawful Evil. Which in simple terms, they see a well-ordered system as preferable since its easier to exploit for their own ends. They are often charismatic motivators, yet entirely self-driven. If we apply a popular culture character we can look at Darth Vader as a prime example.

He was ambitious and was not above playing politically and dirty to achieve his goals and was successful in the majority of his shenanigans. As a character, he was written simply as an ex-mercenary cook who had stumbled into an official office and found he was good at it. Everything he achieved was off his own back and with the assistance of others. Some happily assisting. Others covered and some blindly trusting. He was however not without his flaws. He happily abused substances and had an alcohol problem. He was melancholic when alone and was aware that he had lost far more then he had gained. He had attachment issues and despite having a strong relationship he refused to admit to what it was.

As I got older, wiser and less ambitious Tom (who then became Issac) became tempered. He is now less of a Mary Sue and whilst still representing my Ambition its reflective of my life and career ethos. Issac is now someone whom like me shared a heavy share of opportunities in his younger life. However, due to his own laziness didn’t make use of them. Everything he has achieved has been on his own terms and he believes that he deserves respect because of that. He’s still got his issues with substance abuse, but it’s more reflective of escapism rather than self-destructive. As I matured and my writing style changed Issac found himself leaning more towards a Lawful Neutral aspect. Which is more a belief in Lawful concepts such as tradition, honour, rules but follows a more personal code. If we look at popular culture Captain Picard is the best example I have to hand. Currently, he is a braver, prouder soul and follows my ethos of Carpe Noctem strongly.

Serene Canning, on the other hand, is probably the character I am the proudest to call my own. Not my first effort at writing a strong female persona but without a doubt the most successful attempt I have managed. Unlike other characters who were inspired by external sources; Serene’s inspiration is internal.

She is the personification of depression; specifically my own.

To those who know me; know that I live with depression, I manage it well and when I describe it; it’s always in a positive way. I liken it to a good old dog. Quiet and doesn’t interfere with my day to day requirements. Doesn’t affect my professional life at all. Yet makes those moments when alone and not doing much almost impossible to do anything but lay around comfortable not doing much. There is no weight to my Black Dog and whenever I talk about it, I mention that whenever a depressive period passes it’s like he’s trotting off into the distance, he’ll turn and give me a knowing look.

If my Black Dog took a human form. It would be Serene Canning. Her inception came through the same Play by Post forum as Issac albeit 3 years later. At the time I was having to rediscover who I was. It was at the end of a period of emotional turbulance and probably the first time I admitted that I was depressed. Serene was born of negative internal energy. Unlike Issac, she knew she was capable yet downplayed it. Quiet and curious. She spent most of her time writing in the archives or drawing. She shares my wit and humour; quick and dry. Sarcastic and pragmatic to a fault yet possessing enough social grace to function well in society. Like her brother, Serene achieved success politically albeit through the application of common sense. At her inception, she was Neutral Good which is an application of altruistic values without regard for conceptions such as rules or tradition. Gandalf the Grey is a prime example here.

Her evolution has been more complication due to it being tied to something far more personal to me than a concept of ambition. Her connection with her emotions has become more true, not afraid anymore to be honest with those around her. Serene has lost a lot of that reservedness which held her back before. Embracing her strengths with creativity and imagination. Whilst, not the tragic character she once was; her reflection of my depression is still critically relevant. As I have come to terms with my own Black Dog, so has she; I’d like to think that she handles it like I do. Familiar grace and flair. Unlike me, she has lost her pragmatism and replaced with a realistic idealism. No long the pessimist Serene see’s good in people. But is unlikely to give second chances freely. Unlike her brother, her alignment shift was more chaotic and now comfortably sits closer to where I associate myself with; Chaotic Good. To which I will directly quote.

“A chaotic good character does what is necessary to bring about change for the better, disdains bureaucratic organizations that get in the way of social improvement, and places a high value on personal freedom, not only for oneself but for others as well. Chaotic good characters usually intend to do the right thing, but their methods are generally disorganized and often out of sync with the rest of society”

I have attached a character biography featuring the pair of them which I wrote as a profile application for a Play by Post forum. Please read it at your leisure. It’s the most up to date writing I have for the pair. It’s about 4000 words, but if anyone has feedback. Let me know. I love hearing it.

The Cannings

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