Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Jolene, the Tsundere Hot Mess

I did it again. I focused too much on prep work, and not anything on actual execution. So, yet again, I have nothing to show for this week's writing.

While trying to figure out Jolene's many past loves and paramours, I started up a timeline of her life. I'm still tweaking it, but I think I have it more-or-less figured out. Thing is, I spent so much time creating and altering this timeline, that I didn't get any actual writing done.

That is, aside from another couple of Jolene's journal entries for the sessions I did this past week.

Boy, is she going down a spiral.... She's also increasingly Tsundere. For those who don't know the Japanese loan word, I'm going to swipe from TV Tropes for a simplified definition: "The Japanese term tsundere refers to a character who "runs hot and cold", alternating between two distinct moods: tsuntsun (aloof or irritable) and deredere (lovestruck)." Sometimes, this alternating happens within a sentence of each other. For instance, a mother scared to death about a potentially hurt child. She'll rush up to him, look him over, cry about how worried she was while asking if the child is ok. Once she knows her child is fine, she might smack him across the back of the head for making her worry so much. It's kind of a reverse Tsundere, but that's the basic idea.

And, boy howdy, is Jolene becoming almost destructively Tsundere!

The more that she falls for Rensin, the more terrified she becomes. Both of her emotions, and of the thought that she could lose him. She doesn't have a constructive way of dealing with her feelings, and so chaos spews from her. I guess it's a self-destructive, self-fulfilling prophecy. She is terrified of losing Rensin, and so she'll unintentionally push him away in order to prove that she's been right all along: he'll leave her.

Rensin's even talking about exactly that in his journal: he can't stand the constant fighting, and her tearing him down; not wanting him to be himself. He might have to give her up emotionally.

Oh, Jolene! And the worst part is, I can obviously empathize because she's my character, but Bear has no sympathy at all: "*shrugs* By her own doing. Really can't feel bad for someone that knowingly does it."

She doesn't though! Not really! She believes this is normal behavior. No one taught her how messed up she is! That's why it's such a struggle for her to change. But, since most are seeing her from the outside in, they are judgmental of her; just like in the real world.

True, I wouldn't want any of my friends or family dating someone like Jolene, because I want to protect them from the vortex of chaos that would spew forth, but I wouldn't necessarily judge said chaos-bomb without knowing the facts. I know. This has actually happened in the past year a couple of times....

So... an example of Jolene's Tsundere-ness being misinterpreted; although, it's an understandable misinterpretation due to no one else being in her head....

Jolene went on a solo-quest this week to go pick paralyzing mushrooms for a local business, and while on said quest, nearly got mauled to death by a pair of bears. With a little help of an elf ranger that Jolene hired to come along, she managed to take down both bears essentially by herself. A feat she should have been proud of, and one she probably would have been if her quest was "successful," by her standards.

She volunteered to pick mushrooms - something she knew NOTHING about; couldn't even pick out which mushrooms were the right ones to pick - because she figured it would be a simple way to make some coin. Plus, she had heard rumors that the shop that wanted the mushrooms also does black-market dealings on the side. She wanted to use the mushroom request as a means to "get in good" with the store, and then possibly use that connection to find out about the demon-blood drug ring that the party had been tracking.

Diddly squat. The blacksmith that paid her for the mushrooms had no clue what Jolene was talking about, and was offended at the implication that the store sold more than honest wares. Plus, Jolene now had to share her loot with someone that wasn't with the party. She got no info, and only half the gold she could have brought back to the group. So, killing those bears felt like a waste. They didn't have to die, because the whole quest was a flop.

Had she been able to get information, she'd proudly proclaim to the group how she got the lead, and gloat about taking down the bears. Oh, the highs and lows....

Instead, she hid that she even had an interaction with bears - aside from Mahtab, whom she went to for healing - and didn't mention the quest at all. However, the fear of those two bears attacking her stuck with her, and Rensin - while he took two others with him, and Dunina was the one who nearly died this time - went off to kill a wyvern in order to save a town. A noble quest that ended up being TWO wyverns. Well, Jolene found out about this, and it terrified her.

Rensin was nearly killed THE DAY BEFORE by the main drug runner they were looking for. Instead of resting, he was determined to train and become stronger, so he took on one of the most dangerous quests they came across. One that was a noble quest that seemed perfect for him. He would be able to save/help the most people through this quest, it required strength - his main contribution to the party - he had allies to help him, and his father became famous for taking down a dragon on his own. Surely his spawn Rensin could take on smaller wyverns with a group with him!

Rensin was proud that he took the two wyverns down, and lived to tell the tale; something not many could do. He was proud that he helped save a town. He was also proud of the craftsmanship he put into making Jolene a rapier to help her become stronger in battle; something she constantly whined about.

Does Jolene praise him for helping the village? Does she stand in awe at his bravery and strength in taking down not one, but two wyverns? Does she thank him for putting in the time to make her a gift?

NOPE! Tsundere Jolene just feels the rush of fear from the bear attack, imagines the danger increased tri-fold in regards to two wyverns, remembers the terror she felt as Rensin's breath was slowly leaving him after the drug runner's attack, and she can't handle the fear. She starts shaking as she yells at him for being an idiot. For not resting up to make sure he's fully healed. For going after a dangerous quest where he could have been killed. For seeing his father's tale as an honorable love story - as it was intended - instead of a cautionary tale - as Jolene sees it.

She doesn't see Balthazar slaying a dragon literally single handed - his other arm was bitten off - while on a hunt to prove his worthiness to Rensin's mother as a story of Balthazar's endless love for his intended wife and their son. Instead, Jolene saw it as selfish; trying to bolster his own pride to "prove" himself, instead of doing so by simply being there for the family he loved, and providing for them.

Jolene just doesn't get the Northerners' ways or their strict devotion to their pride. Because of this, she sees these acts of great deeds as selfish, foolhardy, and suicidal. Why risk your life for the sake of pride, when you could live a long, quiet, safe life with the people you love?

So.... she went off on him. She loved the sword he made her, and was instantly overwhelmed by the gesture, but her fear of losing Rensin on that mountain to two wyverns took precedence. She screamed at him and belittled his quest. Even her ignoring his gift wounded him.

Once again, much like when she flirted in front of Rensin in order to try to find info to regain the sentimental trinket stolen from him, she showed her relentless love for Rensin in the most self-destructive way possible. The more she loves him, the more she unintentionally pushes him away. And in the end, when he does finally leave, she still won't realize it was because of her. She'll find him stupid for not understanding her, and consider it "typical": everyone she loves ends up leaving her.

It is entirely her own fault. I do not excuse her of her actions, but it's still a bit of a bummer that I can't even get sympathy from my DM.... Maybe because he's been burned by people like Jolene....

To be fair, though, his quote about her doing it to herself was actually in reference to a curve ball he just threw at me.

I was joking with Mouse that maybe Jolene was being so overly emotional because she was pregnant with Rensin's kid, and no one knows this yet since it's only been about 20 days or so since they slept together. This then led to the realization that Jolene was a prostitute.... for the better part of three years.... and had very frequent income.... which means a WHOLE BUNCH of customers. Especially since she kept moving from town to town to town, I guesstimated around 500 men over the course of her career. Shear volume alone called for Bear to do some rolling. There was just NO way - unless she was sterile or purposely avoided clients while ovulating - that she didn't get pregnant at least once.

I never even took this into consideration when I built her. I just waved the magical "fantasy world" wand that decreed: unless I wanted it in my backstory; pregnancies aren't a thing....

Well... the Dice Have Spoken, and apparently Jolene got pregnant within the first year of prostitution, but miscarried. Got pregnant again the second year, carried it to term, but it died shortly after birth. The third time around, though, she gave birth, and it survived. So..... why doesn't she have this kid? What did she do the two times she carried a child to term? How did she handle the one child dying? How'd she handle the miscarriage?

Her backstory got a hell of a lot more interesting, but these are all questions that I didn't even consider. I now have to figure them out, as well as work the answers into her psyche. As well as figure out why she didn't confess about her motherhood during the great Expelling of Deceit scenes....

And, frankly, given what I know of Jolene's psyche, I really don't see her giving up the second child. I see her attempting to settle down and raise the kid. All she really wants is that unconditional love; a family; a deeper connection. Why give that up? Was it forcefully taken from her? Did she go for the "I want what's best for my child" approach? Also, WHEN were these pregnancies? Because that's about 5 months or so each late-term pregnancy, where she'd be showing, and most likely not getting customers....

I sent Bear my timeline of Jolene's life - minus the pregnancies curve ball - in hopes of him helping me sort this out. We'll see how it goes.

So.... yeah.... that's what I've been doing this week instead of writing my 1000-word story for Ronoxym's challenge....

But, hey, maybe it's still good NaNo prep?

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