Way back when I started with Silent Harmony I remember doing those character surveys and always got stumped by the question of 'Which animal do you associate with him/her?' I always thought that was a silly thing. I've never associated real people with animals before, why would I do that with my characters? Just make them real people. And so I did. Later on, probably five or six years ago, I read some article about associating characters with animals and how it can bring more life to how you write them. Not by constantly likening them to the animal (She was like a cat, aloof and independent, only willing to let you give her attention when she decreed it, that kind of thing) but just by using verbs that you'd normally use to describe the animal. Why say 'she reminded him of a cat' when you can say she prowls, she hisses, she yowls, she purrs, she curls up?
It's something I'll certainly want to do in the rewrite, make the associations that I've slowly started realising with the top four and applying them more consciously. The more recent additions--Shizaaqa and Assili especially--have their animals set. Nimay, Yamin and Nol are a little trickier.
Shizaaqa is lithe and slender. Her eyes are piercing and her voice hypnotising. I use words with the letter 's' in them a lot when describing her, and not just because she's Kazinian. She's dangerous, poisonous. She rears up in anger and settles sinuously back in her throne. She doesn't walk; she glides, she snakes, she sways. Just these descriptors sprinkled here and there, not so obvious that I'm screaming SHE'S A SNAKE but enough to get the imagery going.
Assili, despite trying ever so hard to be her mother, is not a snake. Assili's gauze flutters, her hands flit, she tries to hide it but she hops in excitement. She darts and tilts her head to the side when she's listening. But most of Assili's character comes in her voice, I think. It's a tittering sing-song speckled with twitters and chirps and tweets. It's an ear-piercing screech or a squawk; never a cry or a yell. Lot of onomatopoeia in the language surrounding Assili, short, staccato words. She hops, she struts, she preens, she flies. She also loves birds and birdsong, and Shizaaqa's private nickname for her was Golden-capped Honeyeater, but those are pretty explicit and not really what I'm on about here. I'm talking about the language you use to talk about them.
Flannel Flower's fingers curl and dance like a spider's legs. She's silent, she creeps, she watches, she strikes. She's also completely batshit insane so I'm not sure how much of the arachnid feel comes across with her.
Yan? Yan's the wind. Yan is death. Yes, he has the giant bat wings, but a flitty little bat with a high-pitched squeak he is not. His voice is dry and sandy and dead. He's cold, he avoids human contact, he's just profoundly uncomfortable to be nearby but those who don't know him can't quite put their finger on why. He swishes, he glides, he picks and needles. May not be an animal, but all Yan's language comes from the wind and death. Cos. He dead.
Nimay is unsurprisingly evolving into a bird of prey. Quite unlike Assili's little songbird, she's predatory, she circles, she's always watching, waiting. She glides, she arches her neck, she strikes, she digs her claws in. She doesn't run, she flies, but I do have to be careful with that one given that she literally can fly and the imagery might go the wrong way there.
Yamin I'm not sure on. Something will come up. She's always been the hardest to pin down.
Nol I haven't actually written into things yet, but I'm thinking horse maybe? Still doesn't quite fit. Bolting, cantering, galloping; huffing and... whinnying and screaming not so much. Nol doesn't whinny. Also never thought of him as graceful nor applied the word 'majestic' to him, despite royalty. Maybe not horse, then. Eh, like 'Min, we'll see what evolves.
Lynnlita, once she makes her appearance, will most certainly be a cat.
And that's the lot, for the moment. Now let's see about doing some actual writing :D