Part One of this series on the plausibility of the HEA and Soul Mate premises of Romance novels is:
We have discussed the plausibility of the Soul Mate hypothesis and the Happily Ever After goal hypothesis in many different contexts. Here are some:
If the HEA is implausible, how come it happens?
The Cheating Woman
Nesting Huge Themes Inside Each Other (building the foundation of a series)
And What Does She See In Him?
So all of this gets very abstract for the writer, while necessarily very concrete and visual for the Reader.
To find a book to be a "page-turner" or immersive or just a whopping good read, the reader has to be able to sense a congruence between their everyday life and the implausible, whacky, zany or soapy life of the Characters.
So the writer must translate a world view the writer just makes up into a story the reader can recognize in real life.
The Soul Mate and HEA hypotheses fail with certain readers because the writer failed to translate the writer's "Love Conquers All" assumptions into a language (symbolism) the reader can recognize.
People don't reject the Romance Genre because they don't believe in Romance. They reject the Romance genre because the writers assume the readers share the premise.
That is one difference between Romance and Science Fiction.
In science fiction or fantasy genres, the writer assumes the reader is a trained skeptic grounded in real-world logic and with a personality structured on thinking in dependently and never taking authority's word for anything.
In Romance, the writer assumes the reader yearns for romance in her life, has seen it happen to others, expects it, wants to find a way to achieve it, and knows beyond doubt that finding Romance will solve most of the irksome problems of her life.
In science fiction romance the reader is looking for an argument to prove Love Conquers All. "Show me!" is the attitude of the scientist looking to define Romance.
Science fiction is not escapist literature. It is literature for those who want to reshape their reality not escape from it.
Show your reader how to create Romance, define and identify Souls, and understand the disciplines of the HEA, and you have cross-connected the two genres.
To do this, the Science Fiction Romance writer has to create an understanding of the nature of Reality (actual, real, everyday reality -- e.g. the Headlines from which we rip our stories).
The writer does not have to create a correct understanding of Reality, but does have to identify and define the precise parameters of the Soul and HEA hypotheses in the World the writer is building. This defines the edges, the shape of that world, and thus defines what choices the Characters have before them.
In other words, the Soul and HEA hypothesis the writer chooses generates the plot, and integrates that plot with the theme.
THEME: Souls Are Real
THEME: Life has a purpose; each individual is rewarded for achieving that purpose.
The HEA is a reward for a Soul achieving a purpose. How is the purpose assigned, by whom, why, and how is that purpose made possible to achieve -- and what choices does a Soul have, and when does the Soul make that choice (before or after birth?)
THEME: Rebirth does not have to involve reincarnation
THEME: The HEA is equivalent to retirement on a cushy pension or Veteran's Benefits.
In a previous post, we discussed crafting the Soul Mate of the Kickass Heroine:
We examined the nature of character, what people call "strong character" -- we all know when we meet a "strong" person, but sometimes we don't really know why we think that person is "strong."
So we looked deeply at the concept of character, trying to find the way to telegraph to a reader that this Character (this artificial person who runs through your story) is a Strong Character.
We created one (of hundreds of possible) idea of what the concept "character" might be in real life, and explored some fictional uses for the concept.
Character, we puzzled out, might be defined as the mechanism that connects Soul and Body.
Character is not soul. Character is not body.
Soul is the non-material spirit we feel is our Self. Body is the purely animal carcass that Spirit inhabits. The Kabbalah indicates the Soul enters our manifest reality through the dimension of Time. So we have questions that generate themes: what is Time, what is Soul, what is a human body, what is character?
Humans can be more animal than spirit, or more spirit than animal -- or a nice, firm, buffered, flexible-but-unbreakable balance.
Character is the style, manner and method by which a Soul inhabits a Body.
A "Strong Character" is one where the Soul tames and domesticates the Body, making friends with the animal spirit the way a good dog trainer tames a dog.
For those into Tarot, consider the STRENGTH CARD.
That's why character (real life people), and Character (fictional people) are so complex. We are composed of two variables and the relationship between them -- all 3 factors are nothing but pure energy.
THEME: the real world is continuous.
THEME: the real world is discontinuous.
Take the attributes of the "real world" your readers live in -- 3 spatial dimensions + time.
Over the last hundred years or so, theories of the structure of Space-Time have gone from "The Space-Time Continuum" to a model in which space, time, matter and energy are discontinuous -- e.g. Quantized.
The quantized model of reality raises a lot of questions and allows for a wide range of themes for Science Fiction Romance, a science that depends entirely on the reality of the Soul (since we write about the search for Soul Mates).
Science has been grappling with the issues of where a soul hypothesis could fit into modern physics and psychology -- life after death, ghosts, out of body experiences, precognition, prophecy -- some considerable research funding goes to projects searching for the how and why of the human sense of Self.
The Fantasy genres have been digging deep into the science behind fantasy -- why does the human brain fantasize?
Each answer to these questions generates a fertile master theme for a series of Science Fiction Romance novels.
But in 2018, this article appeared
Belief in the soul is scientific, according to Stapp. Here the word “soul” is used to describe a consciousness or personality which is independent of the brain or the rest of the human body. This consciousness transcends the physical body and does indeed survive death. In his paper, “Compatibility of Contemporary Physical Theory With Personality Survival,” he wrote: “Strong doubts about personality survival based solely on the belief that postmortem survival is incompatible with the laws of physics are unfounded.”
Stapp noted of his own concepts: “There has been no hint in my previous descriptions (or conception) of this orthodox quantum mechanics of any notion of personality survival.”
This article is about "life after death" which, if proven even provisionally, could generate many wonderful Themes about the nature of life before life (i.e. the Soul choosing a Body and a Birth Time generating challenges of certain kinds are certain ages.)
As we have noted in the Astrology Just For Writers series,
"Romance" is a condition which happens during certain kinds of Neptune transits. This means that when you are born determines what age you will be when you experience Romance, and it also determines if there might be future encounters with Romance (opportunities for infidelity or second marriages after widowhood). Astrology can not reveal when you'll die -- the solar system goes right along spinning even after you die, and surely spun steadily before you were born.
But Romance happens at Neptune challenges. Those exact transits can also generate monumental (soap opera style) life-failures, stupid choices, vast mistakes, drug-dependency or addiction, and/or complete changes in your life (job, residence, marriage, children, religious affiliation). Neptune dissolves reality -and after the transit (often a year or more of melt-down) life reforms around new parameters.
Paranormal Romance deals with Life After Death - but Life Before Death is as yet largely unexplored.
If Time is quantized, perhaps the Soul is actually discontinuous, too? Or its presence in the body may be discontinuous (theory is that the soul leaves the body during sleep),
Perhaps Souls have "energy levels" akin to those of electrons and other particles?
Perhaps different Souls are composed of different Soul Particles?
The same article, Page 2
gives us an animated tutorial on the double-slit experiment which seems to demonstrate the importance of INDIVIDUAL CHOICE and OBSERVATION.
That is the rudimentary level of the Kabbalistic emphasis on the importance of human choice in determining the outcome of any situation. The HEA is the archetypal case in point -- what choices guarantee an HEA? Is belief in it enough to generate it?
In reality and fantasy, in science fiction or science fiction romance, the reader is looking for a Character to become, to inhabit like their Soul inhabits their Body.
That is the experience of the "good read" we all search for - to walk in someone else's moccasins, to work on their problems thus strengthening our ability to solve our own.
When it comes to finding a Soul Mate, we grope our way to an understanding of who we are by trying to understand what "who" means. Fiction gives us hypotheses to entertain, possibilities to explore, and theories to test in real life.
Are the brain and mind two separate things? Does that question even make sense?
The quantum explanation of how the mind and brain can be separate or different, yet connected by the laws of physics “is a welcome revelation,” wrote Stapp. “It solves a problem that has plagued both science and philosophy for centuries—the imagined science-mandated need either to equate mind with brain, or to make the brain dynamically independent of the mind.”
THEME: The brain is the animal human. The mind is the soul human.
In a strong character or Character, brain and mind are so "strongly" connected, harmonized, and balanced, attuned and functioning that the person moves through the world leaving a spreading wake of peace.
Such a Strong Character has many internal conflicts but resolves them with targeted and well orchestrated actions.
THEME: A Kickass Heroine can not be a Strong Character because she solves problems by kicking ass.
THEME: Monkey sex illustrates weakness of Character because it satisfies only the Body not the Soul.
Think about it a little and you will find dozens of themes that have not yet been explored deeply in Science Fiction Romance, many of which could convince atheists that the Soul is real.