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Evolving Relationships

I asked on my Facebook page for some ideas of what to discuss in this post. This is the first suggestion I received and the one I’m going to respond to:

How your Dalthia sisters evolve to become consequential in each other’s lives even though growing up they weren’t necessarily close and sometimes hostile? How you helped them realistically grow up and grow more together? 

It’s interesting the way that the Milandaro (yes, that’s their last name) sisters came together. In Just Ella, Ella feels distant from all of her sisters. Most of the distance is just due to personality differences, but Lorraina is openly hostile toward her. When we move into Lylin’s story in Missing Lily, we see that Lylin and Ella’s closeness has grown, but Lorraina is still prickly toward everyone.

So what changes? What was it that made Ella start to build relationships with her sisters? I think the main thing is trust. Once she lays claim on who she is and what she wants, she’s able to slowly start confiding in her sisters. That builds trust and allows the others to start being vulnerable as well. That’s a hard line to cross as a human. When we reach the point where we long for connection but have no way of trusting unless we just take a leap of faith and risk being disappointed—that’s hard for everyone, but it’s the only way that we can move into a trusting relationship. We must make ourselves vulnerable and allow the other person to prove themselves trustworthy or not. And when the answer is not, it hurts, and it can make us even more unwilling to extend trust in the future. Both of these outcomes happen in Just Ella. Ella confides in both Lylin and Lorraina. Lylin takes that vulnerability, values it, and shares her own vulnerability in return. Lorraina, on the other hand, doesn’t believe Ella, and throws it back in her face.

There’s a reason I had to write Lylin and Marilee’s stories before I was able to get to Lorraina’s. Lorraina is the least like me, so it took time for me to understand her. She needed to have her edges softened before I was willing to spend an entire book inside her head.

In Missing Lily, we see Raina break. But we also see her react with her usual anger and hostility. Time passes, and when we meet up with her again in Saving Marilee, we see a huge difference in her. Lorraina started out as everyone’s harshest critic, and as a perfectionist she’s the hardest on herself. Yet, she ends up being the one to come to Marilee when she is horribly broken, and has the compassion to tell Marilee what she needs to hear. When Marilee is repeating the lies that her husband made her believe about herself, it’s Raina who says,

“I’ve never been one to overlook the faults of other. I believe there are times when it’s good for us to try to discover and root out our weaknesses, because we always have flaws. But Marilee, this is not that time. The last thing you need right now is to flog yourself when your husband has spent the last eight months doing that for you.”

I think it was during the writing of that scene that I realized Raina was ready to have her own story. She and I had learned enough and grown enough that I understood her. I saw how much she had grown, but I also knew she had more growing to do, and thus, Painting Rain was born.

Trust is a fascinating thing, both resilient and fragile. It can be cultivated at any time and at any age. But it can be broken at any time as well. Yet if we never trust, if we never take that risk, then we will never be able to nurture the kinds of robust, sturdy relationships that we all need in our lives.

Clean Romance Highlights

Pearls of Salt and Sacrifice by Everly Haywood.

To save a kingdom, she must sacrifice herself…and her heart.

The God Heist by Jessica Flory.

A disillusioned thief.
A dreaded gift.
An impossible heist to pull.

Reign of the Dragon Heir by S.R. Breaker.

She must marry to save all the realms. He must marry her to uncover an evil plot. Will their fake match find truth before the world ends in oblivion?
Published inBooks of DalthiaCharacterization

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