Reference Book: “Unescorted”, by Nuna Blomevi. 2020 © All Rights Reserved.
Warning: This post tackles delicate issues. May cause difficult memories to resurface or triggers in people sensitive to the topic or with traumas.
Mercy… Lately I’ve been choosing very sensitive topics. Less K-drama talks, more serious content. I’m getting more ideas for the blog as I edit my books. Currently under rewriting, my novel Unescorted principally spans over two stages: the heroine’s teenage years and her beginnings as a young adult. Centered on her life in school and her interactions with other people as she grows up, I address in the plot certain issues that plague our modern society: bullying, emotional abuse, peer pressure, sexual harassment and loneliness.
Being a great fan of psychology, I like researching the possible reasons behind people’s actions. “What kind of thoughts were they having? What logic did they process to end up doing what they did”? Of course, having a background reason or a rational explanation doesn’t excuse wrong actions (between good and evil, we all have a choice to make). However, analyzing thought patterns may help in understanding or correcting certain behaviours. I’m not an expert yet, so I will leave the rest to the specialists… For now, I am applying the knowledge acquired to build the background of my characters. Still, the social problems I mentioned above occur so often in real life. It made me reflect quite a lot…
Here are some aspects I considered while writing Unescorted (read the excerpt here). They are based on some common contexts perceived from different perspectives:
“X” is a quiet person and a homebody. He/she is not into parties and loud activities. He/she’d rather read a book instead of hitting the dance floor. “Y” perceives “X”’s behaviour as “not normal”, boring, too reserved or not cool, and constantly seeks to drag him / her along when he/she goes to have fun. What is the fine line between being nosy, invasive or being genuinely caring? Should his/her intentions be interpreted as wanting to improve “X”’s social life, or is he/she being forceful?
“X”’s response could be:
“I should go once, maybe I’ll like it”.
“‘Y” is getting on my nerves, I’ll just go so that he/she stops bothering me”.
“I don’t want to go, but I don’t have the courage to tell “Y”. I feel intimidated.”
As a guy, “W” seeks to show confidence when flirting. When making a move on a girl, he relies on the “signs” she seems to transmit to deduce if it’s a green light or a red light. (How she smiles, strokes her hair, or how she looks at him). “Should I get closer?”, “Will touching her make her feel attracted to me?”, “Is her ‘no’ a real ‘no’ or is she playing hard to get?”; “‘M’s girlfriend kept rejecting him at first but she ended up falling for him. Should I insist with this girl? Maybe she’s just being shy. I like her and I want to her to be mine.” He may get these four responses from his love interest depending on the case:
Possible reactions from Girl “Z”:
“I like this guy. How should I let him know? Maybe I should try to get closer”.
“I don’t like him… Or maybe I like him a little bit? I said no, but I actually meant yes. I don’t want him to think I’m easy.”
“Let me play with him a little and see how it goes.”
“I don’t like him at all. I’ll tell him to get lost.”
Now here come the questions. This is not about judging between right or wrong, between good and evil. Moreover, there is an infinity of variables to be taken into account. The mood, the venue, the context, the relationship between the protagonists…
All of them probably have their own way of thinking which will determine their decision. “X” may cede to “Y” and follow him/her to a party. Whether he continues to go or not is his/her choice. Does that make him/her a pushover? Or: he may also stand his/her grounds and not go at all. Does that make him/her antisocial, inflexible or stuck-up?
“Y” may choose to keep insisting, and become pushy or nosy. Or, he/she may choose to respect “X”’s decision and let him/her be.
Based on his “interpretations” of those supposed “signs”, “W”’s choice to keep pursuing a girl may turn him into a pervert, a jerk or get him the girl he wants if she finally says yes. What is the limit between flirting and sexual harassment? Depending on her response, he may get slapped, leave the girl disgusted, or get himself a girlfriend. It is his responsibility to know when to stop and not impose himself if she said no.
From one scenario to another, we wonder: how will the story end? I’m sure there are various answers crossing our minds. Beyond the novel’s context, these are situations we’ve heard of or that we faced in real life. I didn’t mention more serious scenarios because they are too delicate. “Why did “XY” murder “YZ”?” or, “why did “XY” mistreat “YZ” ?” Maybe I’ll write about them in the future if I start a thriller…
Nowadays, literature, movies, art etc provide a lot of backstories to explain the reasons behind the characters’ actions. The new tendency is “why the villain became a villain”. It’s not bad. But it made me recall certain court rulings that used the same principle. You might have also thought of one that marked you… Based on how the circumstances of the crime were explained, the law was used to a certain advantage. Some assaillants were said to have had “a moment of weakness” or to suffer sequels from a troubled past. Their victims “happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time” or were said to have somewhat triggered the criminal. However, the culprits didn’t suffer from any serious pathology except that “they were not themselves” or “they lost it for a minute”. That lapse was enough to destroy someone’s life. The victim is already hurt, but also blames his/herself from not having been able to escape. The feeling is even worse if there is no sign of repentance or if justice was never made.
Understanding circumstances or intentions behind actions may be good, but too much explanation shouldn’t cloud common sense. The facts can’t be changed: someone wronged another person. The person who was wronged wants things to be corrected, not explained. No matter how many turns the story is given.
Real life isn’t a novel, so it’s important to think through. And read between the lines. “How should I react in this situation?”, “Why am I doing this?”, “Is what I am doing hurtful to me or to another person in any way?”. Tick, Tock, count to three (at least). Let the heart express loud enough the intentions behind the actions. It may be time to hold back, or time to flee. Depending on our position and circumstances, (whether we are in X, Y, W or Z’s shoes) these golden rules might be helpful while considering our next move: “Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t like to be done to you” or “I don’t feel comfortable with this person, and I think this is a good time to run away”.
My original topic for this post was “Peer Pressure / Sexual Harassment: When your ‘no’ is forced to become a ‘yes’.” As I was typing, I felt like I should go deeper and deeper, and I got us into this meditation on good, evil and choices. Maybe that’s how strong the influence of intentions is.