Pronunciation Guide

Sunday, February 15, 2015

“I” is for instinct

My characters respond differently to different situations, but most of their reactions stem from one or two driving instincts. As the story progresses, some of this stuff will change, but this is how it is right now…

Masrekah: to control (first himself, then his surroundings) and avoid. He is cold and detached, every word and manner and glance calculated. The more emotional he feels, the more he hardens himself; rarely does his carefully constructed composure crack (wow alliteration). This manner typically takes one of two forms: pure iciness, or a hostile cockiness. When he feels like he’s losing control and can’t contain his feelings, he drinks to avoid thinking about what’s wrong. Drinking, however, ultimately makes him feel out of control, so the cycle continues. When he’s uncomfortable or in emotional pain, Mas shuts down, turning robotic (if I can use that word for a Medieval story) and emotionless.

Sorek: to fight and distract. For physical threats, his reaction is physical violence, whereas distraction is his preferred method for emotionally threatening things (memories, feelings, etc.). When something starts feeling too serious, count on him to be the one cracking a joke, saying something inappropriate, or using any other available method to distract himself (even if it is just playing with a knife). Even the actual fighting is often just a distraction to avoid facing the dark emotions and inclinations he fears will overwhelm him. For someone who is such a warrior and doesn’t back down from confrontation, he ironically does just about anything to avoid confronting himself.

Siserah: to create order and protect. From a relatively young age, he was responsible for his siblings. Order kept them safe, and when he became town Lord, he sought to enact the same methods to provide safety for his town. Deeply passionate about taking care of people (all of whom he believes are his responsibility), he would gladly do anything to protect anyone. Contrasting this instinct is his need for order and control. No matter the physical or emotional threat to himself or others, his foremost goal is the protection of those he loves, even at his own expense. However, take away his order, and he’ll do anything to get it back.

Rabreah: to protect and fight. A natural protector, she is unafraid of confrontation or fighting. Where this becomes an issue is regarding herself. She fights every perceived threat, emotional or physical, like a spitting animal trapped in a corner. The more intense her emotions, the more she lashes out both verbally and physically (and sometimes at everyone around her). She gives no thought to conquering, winning, or strategy; in her eyes, she can’t overcome the threats in her life, especially regarding her mother. Instead, she believes every moment is a battle, will always be a battle, and she refuses to drop her guard.

Ariliah: to hide and bury. For physical threats, she seeks to hide, to turn invisible, to do whatever it takes to no longer be the focus of that perceived enemy. She has learned to make herself as unnoticeable, small, and unthreatening as possible. For emotional threats, she buries, stuffs everything down; though, ultimately, she really only succeeds in burying more of herself. The more threatened she feels, the more she stifles herself and turns into a zombie of sorts, going through the motions without allowing emotion to rise within her. Like Mas, she regulates herself, every action and word methodically decided upon – not to maintain control like him, but to avoid punishment.  

Mom: to blame and avoid. Nothing is ever her fault. She silences every trace of guilt by lashing out, condemning others, and convincing herself why they are in the wrong. She twists every situation to make herself the victim, even when she is victimizing. Regarding physical threats, she tends to fight for a moment, then back off to avoid further conflict or anything that might actually cause her physical harm. Like a bully who acts tougher than they are, she can’t handle someone standing up to her. Emotionally, she avoids negative feelings, choosing instead to make others feel bad so she won’t have to.

Edaliah: to refocus and placate (first others, then herself). More of a lover than a fighter, she is in constant conflict with her fight or flight instinct when it comes to rebel activities. She hates violence but embraces it as a means to an end, quietly enduring the darkness in front of her by clinging to the hope and freedom on the other side. She seeks to assuage both physical and emotional threats by shifting the focus to something more positive. Whether it’s with a joke, a good memory, or a hopeful twist of the situation at hand, she finds the light in every shadow. Before she tries to calm herself, she calms those around her, which in turn steadies her. She does the same with her own emotional struggles: forces herself to find the good in the bad and hold on to it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

“H” is for healing

Ari’s mother abuses her daily. Usually emotional and verbal, sometimes physical. Ari has been broken for as long as she – or anyone else – can remember. She has no self-worth; she can’t accept a compliment. Her mother’s venom haunts her.

The inn rips her open, leaves gaping wounds festering under a hardened shell. Eyes that once dropped in fear lift to glare. The once sweet, compassionate girl ends up buried beneath ferocity, hatred, and brutal resolve to survive.

Originally, Ari married a half-breed guy. Then I wrote the scene where Ari and Hikah meet, and my plan to kill Hikah dissolved due to cuteness. The plan was that Hikah rescued Ari from jail. I had it that eventually they reunited and were still in love, blah blah blah…

Only one problem: Hikah, a lifelong Hul who sees nothing wrong with his beliefs, would NOT realistically throw everything away for a girl he barely knows. (He’s also merely infatuated with her, which shatters at the truth of what Ari is.)

I started debating other options.

This is when Masrekah poked me in the ear and whispered, “Hey. Heyyyy, writer lady. Yeah, you. Instead of me just trying to get her out of jail like this current plot suggests, I could, you know, actually get her out. I’m already good, changed, whatever. I already see things differently, so there’s no issue of someone doing something they don’t believe in. It’s not working with him rescuing her, and you know it. Oh! And while you’re at it, I want to be with her. So do that. Put her with me instead of that Hikah guy. Don’t argue about how it’ll be weird or creepy. It’ll work, trust me. Just do it. Dooo ittttttt, woman.”

Mr. Bossy. *grumbles*

Mas likes Ari before the inn. He views her as innocent and sweet. After the inn, he loves her. She believes she’s disgusting, shamed; he sees strength, resilience, beauty forged through suffering. Beyond the hateful mask she wears, he still sees the sweet, compassionate girl she really is, and he determines to set her free. Their relationship is difficult, wrought with pain and heartache. They’re both broken and desperate, and they hurt each other often.

Yet he repeatedly sacrifices for her (everything from food and sleep to his deepest desires), giving of himself or going without to provide for her. He doesn’t condemn her, shame her, or force her to talk. Each time she rejects him (rejection has always been his biggest fear), he responds with compassion (not perfectly, but he tries). He has no ulterior motives; he doesn’t demand anything of her.

Instead, he offers everything.

He offers his presence, his love, his unconditional acceptance, his understanding, his own brutal honesty. He offers truth, hope, courage to overcome the darkness and abuse. Even amid mess-ups, he keeps trying to prove himself trustworthy. No matter how many times she pushes him away, he refuses to give up on her.

He loves her through her darkest moments, and it’s his love that really begins to heal not just the wounds from the inn, but the wounds of her entire life.

And this is why they aren’t weird together like I feared at first. Mas was right. Go figure.