Information boards and kiosks, from local hiking trails to prestigious museums, have one common note. “You are here.” The maps may be plain, in color, different sizes, with or without words, but the X marks the spot is clear enough to give the visitor a sense of place, a center from which to choose their direction.
Not only do these information markers cut down on employees being asked to give directions, but they also add a sense of safety and security emotionally. Disorientation in physical surrounding often results in immediate stress. For adventurers it’s an adrenaline rush of excitement, but for others it can raise fearful memories. Either way we prefer to have some measure of control.
In the movie Moonacre, orphan Maria Merryweather is introduced to her new country home as uncle takes her for a ride around the land, marking out the boundaries, and giving clear warnings as to where she should not go. But he also refuses any explanations, both for external dangers and her internal confusion. He removes her father’s book despite her pleadings and locks it away in a forbidden room. He tells her what she may and may not do, and then ignores her questions, often dismissing her with curt exits.
Left with only a partial map of her new surroundings, she attempts to find some solid ground emotionally and tumbles into more and more bewildering situations. Still she tries to make sense of where she is, and why her uncle lives as he does, and what does it all have to do with the hidden book.
Bit by bit she explores this new territory and creates her own map to discover what her inheritance really is.
Take your character to the home of a relative that she never knew existed. Literally or figuratively, close the door behind her. How does she get her bearings in this place? What emotional roller coaster does it unleash?