Character Conundrums May 20, 2010

a letter to a fellow writer…

Normal vs Paranormal & Universal Truths

I woke up this morning thinking about character conundrums and flashed on one of the points I told you I had made to the ‘students’ I talked to… that of ‘the universe is both infinite and finite; it contains only what you can conceive that it holds, till you can conceive that it holds more or something else, not previously part of that ‘known’ universe. I said that a universe has ‘universal truths’ more specifically, there is only ‘Truth that is universal’. And that everything in that universe is begot from, by and answers to that Truth. One example of a system in our existence would be ‘gravity’ as part of the universal Truth.

Given that preface or premise, consider for what ever universe your Alpha male-female inhabit there will be a set of principles or truths that those around them (the non-paranormal) and within which they will have to act and will be subject to. Your dilemma is placing your paranormals in that normal universe, which they now inhabit, bringing with them their paranormal set of universal principles by which they are guided and to which they must adhere. One of the operative questions is, does the ‘normal’ have the ability to see, understand or interact with the paranormal; i.e. have a causal effect on the ‘paranormal‘ or does the normal only react to the stimulus or force of the paranormal thus the normal is only able to be affected or effected by the causation of the paranormal. The corollary is to what degree, if any, do you want to have the paranormal to be affected/effected by the normal; i.e. does the normal have any causal affect or effect on the paranormal?

At any rate, you get to decide what those universal operating principles or ‘Truth/s’ is/are for the paranormals and they in turn must be true to the nature of those organizing and operating laws or properties of their universe, which somehow mesh with the universal constant of the normal world they now inhabit. For example, each in their own universe, the normal and the paranormal, neither can walk through a ‘solid’ or physical wall, as they each perceive a wall or impenetrable barrier. However, for example, you take the paranormal and place her in the normal universe and she now has the ability to ‘walk through or pass through walls’. This act in it self is not paranormal, it is perceived as such by the normal and would only be perceived as extra-normal to the paranormal while in the normal universe, because for the paranormal that ability or facility would not occur in their own plane of existence.

I think it is in the explication and example of those kinds of issues (powers, gifts, capabilities) that your characters will flourish and be real to the reader. This is perhaps the basis behind Superman… it was not so much that he possess uber-strength on his own world (all the beings there could fly, were strong, etc) but on Earth he could do all those things which humans could not; therefore, he was superhuman, ergo: paranormal.

Also as I went into the Waffle House, I pulled out one of the books I keep in the car to read on surveillance or times such as dining alone… I turned right to a chapter I had not read and it had some very interesting things that tangentially apply to what I wrote above. I would recommend that you seek out this book, most likely available at a college campus book store or on Amazon. The title is Metahistory and is subtitled: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe, by Haden White. In particular look at White’s take, in Chapter 2, of Hegel, the German philosopher.

Although some of Hegel’s adherents and detractors took his philosophy to the dark side I think Hegel speaks clearly to this aspect of a universe’s, cause and effect. So give it a try. I was going to try to copy a few paragraphs and realized the entire chapter needed to be read… and its twenty some pages… too much to transcribe. And since, you are in bookstores quite a lot; I thought you could pick up a copy…

4 Responses to “Character Conundrums”

  1. chanel handbags Says:

    I couldn’t agree more…

  2. Robert Sadler Says:


  3. Robert Sadler Says:

    Thank you!

  4. Emily Says:

    I couldn’t agree more…

Leave a Reply