LinkedinTwitterThe DetailsConnectBlog Facebook Meet the TherapistHome For Writers

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dear Jeannie: Young Adults Changing Life Trajectories

Dear Jeannie,

Airi watched most of her village get slaughtered. Those with silver eyes like her were spared, only to be tortured to death by the sadistic soldiers at the order of the Emperor. Airi saw her mother die this way. Airi was on her way to the same fate when she was rescued. Airi was a gentle young woman who loved people and helped them where she could. She was even training to become a healer. Airi was a strong, independent woman. Would something like this turn her into someone who was no longer self reliant? Would it be plausible for her to turn from a gentle healer into someone who would kill others like the soldiers who destroyed her village and tortured her with her healing skills? Would she have trust issues with those who rescued her? Thanks for the help.

Airi's sadistic author 

Dear Sadistic,

Its hard enough to grieve the loss of someone you love, much less to watch them die. Add the context of her mother's death, and the pending doom of a similar reality, and all bets are off. I guess what I'm saying is that you could have her go either way: maintaining her independence, fiercely protective of it, remembering what it was like to be in captivity and to be fearful all the time, determined not to be so again. Or you could have her grow angry and bitter at her circumstances, and possibly seek retribution for for the evils she endured (think Linda Hamiliton in Terminator 2). Sometimes these individuals are so cunning that they relish the opportunity to use the same weapons against their enemies that were used against them. I don't think she'd have trust issues with her rescuers though. Of all you wrote, that seemed the most improbable. When you are in a life and death situation and someone rescues you, you'd be more likely to be grateful for the salvation, not suspicious. Hope this helps!

Dear Jeannie,

Davin lives, eats, sleeps, breathes his squire training. Every decision this young man makes is oriented towards becoming a strong and capable knight. Until he goes home for the summer, for the first time in about five years. His parents let slip that he's betrothed to the king's daughter. Putting two and two together, Davin is pretty sure this means he has somehow become heir apparent for the throne. He knows the princess, and even likes her, but this is not part of his plan. As a 13-year-old, how is he going to process this information? My plot calls for him to make a new plan about this--at a fairly adult level--but I'm not sure he's at a point where he can think through the steps and consequences necessary to get where he's going. He's a stubborn, sincere boy who loves order and dislikes deviating from a tested, proven method or structure. (The princess in question is a strong-willed rule-breaker with an impulse-control problem, though Davin has found that she redirects her energy in healthy channels when he supports her unconventional goals.) Can this boy get from childhood to adulthood with his plans intact, or will he allow someone else to choose his future?

Courtly in Cornwall 

Dear Courtly,

At age 13, this young boy should be more interested in social relationships that you've indicated he is. Perhaps he's not into girls yet enough to want to give up his plans, but then I'd definitely make his knight training a tight-knit cohort of young men, because that's the stage of psychosocial development he's in. If in your story world you've normed 13-year-olds being betrothed, then he should react in the typical fashion. But for someone so driven to be a knight, he might definitely be irritated. In his push to fit in to a group of people. he might have defaulted to the knight trainees as his "peeps." But I just didn't get a sense of why he's so motivated to be a knight. Most young boys just want to play and goof around. Yes, he'd be trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to do. He'd want to establish his role as a knight, and participate in all the activities knights-in-training do. He might even see the princess as some sort of project to channel his abilities into (like he's trying to salvage her from being so headstrong but learns something from her in the process...that there's life to live out there). I'd welcome additional question if you'd lile to dialogue about this. Good luck!


I might have answers. Fill out the form below, using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle, and I'll answer them in future Dear Jeannie columns.