Using Language as a Metaphor for Healing


Multiple Personality Disorder

The main character starts the second book of my Merlin’s Thread series with her mind fractured into pieces. During the course of Merlin’s Weft, she fights to become one whole woman. Traumas in her past generated distinct personalities that are epitomized by fear, rage and lust.

While the struggle to heal her fractured soul continues throughout the book, a considerable amount of healing takes place during the first few chapters.

I wanted to show the reader the progress of her healing, especially in that crucial first third of the book. I used several mechanisms to illustrate her getting in touch with the different aspects of her former selves, but here I want to focus on one way that I used to show a gradual healing.

In a Manner of Speaking

Adele, the protagonist, suffered from multiple personality disorder. Although she is a thirty-four-year-old woman, parts of her mind are seven years old, and the dominant part is an uneducated seventeen-year-old girl. She speaks with an ignorant laziness that is extreme even for a teenager.

Here’s an example of her dialogue in the first chapter:

“I thought you were suppost-a be a healer. I thought you wanted the best f’r people. Amber always thought-a you that way. But you knew, too, did’n ya?”

Now, since Neve, her healer, has some schoolmarm tendencies, she focuses on improving the quality of speech in her charge. She starts with the laziness of the negated verb forms, such as “did’n,” and works up from there. The reader can see the progression of Adele’s healing through the changes in her dialogue.

Of course, throughout the book, stresses cause Adele to relapse and bring into question the efficacy of the whole healing process.

But She’s the POV Character

With lazy-sounding dialogue, a little goes a long way. The book is written in first person from Adele’s point of view. Not only do we sometime hear her internal thoughts, she provides narration from her perspective. Hearing that lazy child’s voice for so much of the book would drive even me crazy, and I like the girl.

I wrote her narration and internal dialogue without the sloppy diction.

How do I get away with that? Well, there are two threads to the explanation. First, one of the minor personalities that she is incorporating was an educated, adult person. Adele has access to that person’s vocabulary and speech patterns, and strives to overcome the verbal laziness of her main persona to emulate that one. Adele even voices that thought about having the internal adult speech patterns to Neve in the book.

The second explanation is that—I think—the voice people hear in their heads is more refined and polished than the one that comes out of their mouths. She hears herself the way she wishes she could speak.

Writing the Change

Frankly, I was reluctant at first to write scenes of Neve correcting Adele’s speech. In my early draft, I elided much of that into summary paragraphs. Who wants to sit through a schoolmarm’s language class? But my editor, Catherine Payne Jones, chastised me for my own laziness. “Show, don’t tell,” is the rule I was violating.

I needed to include background from the first book, Merlin’s Knot, for those readers who either hadn’t read it, or who had read it far enough in the past to have forgotten details. So I showed Adele’s relating her story to Neve along with her reactions to Neve’s corrections. I showed her struggles to speak better.

I hope you enjoy the result of my own language struggles.

Merlin’s Weft will be released November 18. The eBook is available for pre-order on at a 25% discount. From now until November 18, the eBook is only $2.99.

Merlin’s Knot, the first book of the series, is available on


Go to my Web site to obtain a copy of the prequel, Merlin’s Shuttle. He doesn’t battle evil in that story, but he does face off against Mother Nature.


About andersen52

I am author of the contemporary fantasy series Merlin's Thread. The first novel is Merlin's Knot.
This entry was posted in Fiction, Merlin's Thread Series, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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