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Defining Character Age


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I searched the forum and didn't find any posts related to Defining Character Age. I'm up against it with Leoshine. Her body is one age and her mind is another. She lives in a different society from ours so the usual clues that a westerner would recognise are not available. 

Here are a few articles I found in my quest to write myself out of this knotty challenge:

An Age Old Question

Habits and Traits

 

Do you have any other resources or suggestions?  I need all the help I can get!

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Leoshine is human. She is the youngest of three sisters. The society has an initiation rite that is harmful. Her father has kept her young in order to save her from the initiation. He knows there is an invasion coming that will abolish the ritual. 

I need to portray her as 17 with some hints of immaturity. Right now it seems she is 13 with some hints of maturity. 

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1 hour ago, Nicola said:

Leoshine is human. She is the youngest of three sisters. The society has an initiation rite that is harmful. Her father has kept her young in order to save her from the initiation. He knows there is an invasion coming that will abolish the ritual. 

I need to portray her as 17 with some hints of immaturity. Right now it seems she is 13 with some hints of maturity. 

 

Ok, so I assume he’s not magically preventing her from aging, but maybe just treating her as a child and saying she’s younger than she is?

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One idea is that you can show the mental age of someone by what they obsess over. For instance A teenager who used to play with dolls will talk differently about such things then she did when she was younger as back then she would have talked about them in a certain way at that age as the dolls were a big part of her world view. But as she grew up her world view changed. So if you can show her with a younger world view, more innocent and naive, you might be able to show a different mental age.

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3 hours ago, Zee said:

Ok, so I assume he’s not magically preventing her from aging, but maybe just treating her as a child and saying she’s younger than she is?

No magic. Just bindings and psychological isolation.

 

9 minutes ago, Amosathar said:

So if you can show her with a younger world view, more innocent and naive, you might be able to show a different mental age.

This is a good technique, thank you!  

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1 hour ago, Nicola said:

No magic. Just bindings and psychological isolation.

 

The coming-of-age ritual must be pretty awful if he feels that is a good alternative for his daughter. Does he have an older daughter/s who were badly damaged going through it and he’s determined not to let that happen to his youngest? Or outside influences led him to believe it isn’t a good idea? Old habits, even bad ones, die hard, unfortunately...

What is the ritual, anyway?

 

And what’s the linguistic/cultural origin of the name “Leoshine” or did you make it up? Your stories are always so intriguing!

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13 minutes ago, Zee said:

Your stories are always so intriguing!

Aw thanks! I've been called a literary anthropologist for the societies I create. I've also been asked to make a Wiki for Leoshine. 

 

13 minutes ago, Zee said:

And what’s the linguistic/cultural origin of the name “Leoshine” or did you make it up?

I made it up. There is a naming convention with -ine being the suffix for all girls names.

 

14 minutes ago, Zee said:

The coming-of-age ritual must be pretty awful if he feels that is a good alternative for his daughter. Does he have an older daughter/s who were badly damaged going through it and he’s determined not to let that happen to his youngest?

Ritual rape. Her older sister Giffshine went through it several times and didn't get pregnant so she is relegated to the heap except she is the ruler's daughter. People just kind of try to ignore how deranged she is. The next daughter, Hillashine, is pregnant now. If she gives birth to a live child she gets to marry the man. 

 

17 minutes ago, Zee said:

Or outside influences led him to believe it isn’t a good idea?

Wow! It's kind of like you've read my story!  Yes, the father knows there are people coming who will put a stop to the atrocity. 

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I've solved it! I'm going to write the scene at the very beginning, which is now a prologue, where she is in the bath. She's going to celebrate being free of the bindings her father makes her wear. She'll think about her mother worrying that her body will be ruined for feeding babies and look down and think, not a chance. 

Then another girl her age (they'll talk about how they used to play together before Gorphaline went through the initiation) will come in with a baby on her back. This will be a servant who helps bind her up and who explains in a snarky way a bit about how different Leoshine is.  

What do you think? 

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3 hours ago, Nicola said:

What do you think? 

It could work. Try it out and see! 

12 hours ago, Nicola said:

What are you doing to establish you character's age, Claire?

She's working, so that kind of shows her to be an adult. Otherwise, I've focused more on the ages of her younger siblings, which probably gives a few more clues. 

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13 hours ago, Nicola said:

Aw thanks! I've been called a literary anthropologist for the societies I create. 

 

That is so cool!

 

13 hours ago, Nicola said:

 

I made it up. There is a naming convention with -ine being the suffix for all girls names.

 

Ritual rape. Her older sister Giffshine went through it several times and didn't get pregnant so she is relegated to the heap except she is the ruler's daughter. People just kind of try to ignore how deranged she is. The next daughter, Hillashine, is pregnant now. If she gives birth to a live child she gets to marry the man. 

 

Right, that is terrible. Not too far-fetched, though, unfortunately...

 

13 hours ago, Nicola said:

 

Wow! It's kind of like you've read my story!  Yes, the father knows there are people coming who will put a stop to the atrocity. 

 

Either bad previous experiences or outside influences/intervention seem to be the two main reasons why conscientious people in the real world abandon damaging cultural practices like this...so it makes sense it would work in the story  world, too.

 

In one story I wrote, I had a character go this painful tooth-pulling initiation, and his cousin comments that if his progressively-minded father has been alive, he never would have allowed it.

 

However, I once watched a documentary about a region (in Uganda, I think,) where female circumcision was practiced, and the young girls themselves began to protest the practice with such determination that the tribal authorities eventually listened to them...

 

Anyway, best of luck on the Leoshine story. Maybe we’ll see a bit on the Critique Forum someday?

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22 hours ago, Zee said:

However, I once watched a documentary about a region (in Uganda, I think,) where female circumcision was practiced, and the young girls themselves began to protest the practice with such determination that the tribal authorities eventually listened to them...

I'm so glad to hear this!  Too many times it is the women doing this to each other that perpetuates the atrocity! 

 

22 hours ago, Zee said:

In one story I wrote, I had a character go this painful tooth-pulling initiation, and his cousin comments that if his progressively-minded father has been alive, he never would have allowed it.

Sounds like you are a literary antropologist too!

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On 11/13/2020 at 9:20 PM, Nicola said:

What do you think? 

I think this is a good idea. You could add more scenes that are just as subtle throughout the story, especially for those readers who skip prologues. Maybe she doesn't understand how bad it would be and thinks of going out without her bindings until she overhears someone else talking to her father about Leoshine's age because he has a son and he wants to match them. Or maybe she does understand the atrocity of the ritual and one day feels her bindings coming lose and panics to get somewhere private to fix them.

 

This is a really interesting concept. It reminds me of the "breast ironing" practice of some African tribes in places like Cameroon, Benin, and Togo. Mothers would do this in an effort to protect their daughters from sexual abuse. (https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/breast-ironing-cameroon-harmful-practice-girls/

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