Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Poetic Justice In Paranormal Romance Novels Part 3

Parts 1 and 2 of this series, were posted on aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com the previous 2 Tuesdays.



We're looking at creating a working definition of Poetic Justice that will fit Paranormal Romance to enhance the believability of the Happily Ever After ending. 

So far, we have the following axioms to build into the Paranormal world:

1) Free Will
2) The Reality of the Soul (otherwise no Soul Mates)
3) Uniqueness of the Individual
4) Love Conquers All
5) Happily Ever After is possible though not guaranteed
6) Poetic Justice is real

In creating the plot of the Paranormal Romance Novel, look for ways to challenge the postulates you use these axioms to prove.  That will give your plotting a scintillating bizzaz that will glue the reader to the words.

If you didn't learn how to construct proofs in beginning Geometry, pick up some books and learn how to do that.  Working through geometry proofs is one of the most powerful cognitive disciplines for plotting any story, but it is especially applicable to all kinds of fantasy novels, from elves and trolls to dragons and demons and all the way to Urban Fantasy magic realism.

The more fantasy there is in your constructed universe, the more essential is the cognitive procedure internalized in elementary geometry.

So, last week we worked out a definition of poetry in terms of the Western musical scale based on 7 full tones, (we didn't discuss the 5 half-notes which add depth and texture) and came to the following:


7 is a biggie, so the Western musical scale is a great analogy to use in worldbuilding.

Poetry and music are different level manifestations of the same thing.  Poetry is not just the sounds of the words,  but the abstract meanings.  Concepts can be mapped onto this system of 7 or 7X7. 

One of those concepts is "Justice."

Poetry is not about rhyming, but it is about harmony.

Poetry is as much about the groups-of-7 as it is about the intervals between those 7 elements in a group.

Poetry is about how very distinctively different things interact with, blend with, meld with, unite with each other.

Poetry is about how two can become one.

Poetry is about the underlying unity of reality. 

Poetry is about Love Conquers All. 


So we know that Poetry is how Love Conquers All -- through harmony, through resonance, through the way that the two G strings on a guitar are the same note, an octave apart, and when you pluck one of them, the other picks up that energy through the air and vibrates its own note.

Poetry is about resonance - about how one event in one place and time stirs the substrata of reality setting off a resonating note among other events, other souls, in other places and times.

In other words, poetry is about how two distinct Events in different places and times can both be manifestations of the same thing. 

So what's Justice? 

Most people would say Justice is an evening or balancing of the Scales -- one event weighing the same as another, keeping the universe in balance.

That would work fine if the goal of life were to remain static. 

The statue of the goddess blindfolded holding the scales of Justice is Roman based on the older Greek concepts.  Our whole modern civilization in the U. S. A. is from the Roman (via England) which came from the Greek, which grew from Ancient Egypt - Persia (which is now Iraq/Iran).  Babylon (Syria) figures in there.  The Code of Hammurabi.  Assyrian roots. 

Hey, look, they all kind of knew each other, married into each other's clans, bled ideas and propagated ideas down the ages. 

But this current version of Western Civilization owes much to Ancient Egypt.


If you don't know about the Code of Hamurabi, it may be because you weren't a dedicated Star Trek fan looking up every Shakespeare and classical reference.  Kirk loved Hammurabi -- saved his butt in a court of law. 

Read this if you need a refresher:

But note that the article admits the Hebrew Torah is more famous. 

A lot of US Law is based on the Torah laws, or if not actually the Law itself, then the underlying concept of JUSTICE is what the US legal system lifted from these ancient documents.  (I'm assuming you all know the elements and ingredients in the Magna Carta.) 

So as a writer trying to convince a reader that some strange, made-up universe of yours would actually work in practice and is real (at least for the moment of the story), mine those ancient documents for the unused or abused, the disregarded or oddball interpretation that might sound strange to a reader, but would "ring true."

"Ring true" means poetry. 

Pick up the resonance of ancient events, and harmonize modern fantasy events with them.  It'll come out plausible.

So we're looking for poetic justice.

Does your universe need a portrait of the ideal state of human civilization as static?  Or do you need, as most science fiction novels will, a sense of dynamic progress?

Are things, affairs of humans, wizards and elves, only "right" when they are in "balance" (i.e. static) -- or does your universe have a purpose, a goal that it hasn't reached yet?

If it is a universe which is progressing, what is it progressing from and to? 

The reader doesn't need to know (doesn't want to) but you must have a notion of what your universe is about  in order to select each detail to be consistent with that notion.  Consistency builds verisimilitude.

Maybe you don't have this notion consciously -- maybe you have to write it to find out what it's about.  Many great talented writers work that way.  Others think they can and fail without knowing how disastrous their failure is.

So give the issue of Justice some conscious thought, then let it cook in your subconscious and see what worlds and universes you build.

The most fertile source of crazy ideas is the world around you and the ancient worlds from which it came. 

The Romans as noted above, portrayed Justice as static, a balance, evil balanced against good.  When you get the scales straight, one pan weighing the same as the other, you have achieved Justice.

But does your heart yearn for a world where Love Conquers All -- and I mean All.  Shouldn't the Good outweigh the Bad?  Shouldn't Justice mean there's more Good than Bad and the scales are tipped, skewed? 

Does Justice mean "I win?"

Or does Justice mean "There is no right or wrong - just stalemate?" 

Isn't that the formula for the Horror Genre novel?  Evil can never be destroyed or transformed into Good - it can only be locked away, chained with sigils and signs, sealed with theSeal of Solomon and left sleeping for the next generation to deal with.

Can Love Conquer All in a universe where you can not destroy or transform Evil into Good?

Is that why elements of the Horror genre just totally ruin a good Romance novel?  It's a "note" (tone, or sound) from a different scale.  It isn't the same song Romance Novels are made of. 

Think about my favorite Paranormal Romance genre - the Vampire Romance.

Until the advent of The Good Vampire - the vampire who was a decent human in life and who therefore fights the "curse" to behave decently (think of the TV Show Forever Knight and my Vampire Romance Those of My Blood) - any novel that had "a vampire" in it was automatically published under the Horror genre label.

Then all of a sudden, we had a slew of Romance novels about GOOD VAMPIRES - or vampires whose nature might be very "dark" but who were capable of love, affection, bonding.

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's St. Germain is one of the ground-breakers, and especially her novel which is more Historical Romance than Vampire Novel, Hotel Transylvania.

And now "vampire" does not automatically mean Horror genre.

There are panels at science fiction conventions about the Good Vampire. 

What does it mean about the nature of our real reality -- and our culture's opinion about the existential nature of reality -- that we, as writers and readers, have transformed the darkest most evil mythological creature into a force for Good In The World???? 

That's only one example.  Look around you.  Good things are being transformed into bad (not actual evil; there really isn't much of that around, but there's plenty of dark stuff).  But really awful things are being used for Good and transformed into Good.

Love, your ability to love, and your highest idealism is lighting up the farthest corners of this world -- often via the Internet, Web 2.0, and so on.

People help strangers in trouble on the other side of the world.

Is this a static world where the best we can hope for is a stalemate, a balance between Good and Evil? 

Most Paranormal Romance novels today are about that age-old battle, armegeddon, between Good and Evil -- but in my reading, I've found that for the most part, writers are portraying the scales tilted with Good on the heavier side of the balance. 

The static balance between Good and Evil is no longer the highest aspiration, the portrait of the ideal world, the Roman vision of the best we can do. 

Today people live in a dynamic world where the scales of Justice are tilting toward the Good.

But in the real world of your reader's daily life, the scales actually are swaying wildly this way and that, averaging better maybe, but in any given life, swaying wildly.

So you can build your fictional Paranormal Romance world with a non-static portrait of Justice.

That means you must be able to portray your Good and your Evil in ways that the reader can distinguish one from the other and make an informed choice which side to root for. 

If you, yourself, inside your own mind, are not able to define just what is Good -- in terms that don't simply mean "I win is good."  then you won't be able to get your reader to ponder their own definition of good, and come away with an Aha! moment, or as I said in Part 1 of this series of posts, a religious experience.

So, in terms of the Paranormal Romance novel, what you're looking to deliver is the Happily Ever After moment portrayed as Poetic Justice.

That moment has to be when the Soul Mates come out of the Pluto transit which I discussed here on August 30, 2011, find the sun shining as the Neptune Transit of "falling in love" wanes, see that the honeymoon is over (even if they spent it in Jurassic Park running for their lives) and understand that they will live Happily Ever After.

The Poetry in that moment resides in Events previous to that moment that belong to the same "chord" made from the scale of 7 cardinal emotions.  

If you've forgotten, here are some posts where I discussed the 7 cardinal emotions as depicted with the "Lower Face" of the Tree of Life.



The "Justice" of Poetic Justice resides in the Good that has resulted (and will likely yet result) because of the Soul Mates' survival, of what they did to survive, what they did to get themselves into that fix, in the whole backstory of how they were swept together by "fate" and events larger than themselves and could never have foreseen they'd arrive at this moment.

Poetic Justice is evidenced by a long, improbable, chain of Events on a " because line" (where each choice results in an event that causes another event which presents another choice etc in unbroken sequence) that finally results in the Soul Mates bonding and living Happily Ever After.

Poetic Justice says to the modern mind fostered by the scientific view of the universe that science doesn't know everything, that the universe makes sense, that life has a purpose, that it's not all random and haphazzard, that you can win if your heart is pure and your actions ethical.  Poetic Justice says because you have lived the universe has changed in a significant way -- and changed to the Good.

Poetic Justice is how the writer says to the reader that life is meaningful, that there is a purpose, that your personal struggles are taking us closer to the goal. 

It's not an easy thing to code into a novel's events without any expository lumps.

If you succeed, the payoff is huge in terms of reader loyalty to your brand.

The best way I know of to learn to do it is to analyze every movie you see and every book you read to see how others have done it for you.  At the same time, you need to find ways in which the world out there, the "real" world, actually does behave poetically and justly.  News stories, biographies, non-fiction, all that is fodder for the creative mind.

If you look for Poetic Justice in the real world, see it depicted in fictional worlds, can nail it consciously, eventually your subconscious will code it into the plots of your novels.

If you set out to write a novel, deliberately, to exemplify poetic justice, you will probably produce something so "on the nose" (so explicit) that it won't sell because it comes off "contrived."

If you see the world as poetic and just, that vision will resonate in the fictional events blasting into your consciousness as pure inspiration.  Very likely, you won't even recognize that you've done it until years later.  By then, you'll understand that the rigorous training you put yourself through paid off big time.

In fact, you may suddenly see the poetic justice in your own life. 

Live Long and Prosper,
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

1 comment:

  1. Some writers choose to end their novels with the protagonists trapped in different time periods and unable to be together to the displeasure of many readers of the genre.