Previous posts in this discussion:
And now in Part 3, we'll look at UFO reports, which are (oddly) lumped in with the "Paranormal" (which includes ghosts).
In ordinary consciousness, people go about their business never giving a thought to ghosts, telepathy, teleportation, prophecy, or kidnapping by UFO.
So when they do turn their attention to such occult phenomena, it is like peering into a compartment where you keep ridiculous ideas, a toy box of concepts to push around into new patterns just for fun.
Most readers of Romance or any of the Fantasy (even Science Fiction) genres don't "take it seriously." So as a writer, you don't have to work hard to attain "suspension of disbelief."
However, if you're writing a book to be published as non-fiction about such phenomena, you have to hammer away incessantly at convincing people that their toys are real. It's part of the appeal of the Christmas Classic, The Nutcracker where toys come alive.
Tarot and Astrology, as they are mass-marketed for profit, are regarded like toys by most people. These toys produce fun stuff, but they don't mean anything and don't have to be taken into account when living your day to day existence.
Romance is like that (until you do experience it for real). The "for real" experience is like the toys in the toy box coming alive, an astonishing moment suspended outside of time.
In psychology, that moment is called "cognitive dissonance" -- and that experience of reassessing what is and is-not real is the essence of the fiction writer's craft.
To work across the boundary between the real and the inside of the toy box, the writer must study both fiction and non-fiction.
The New Year's fare in Newspapers is peppered with "psychics" making predictions about the coming year (and other linear prognosticators doing "if this goes on.") Tarot and Astrology get featured, as they sometimes do for Halloween (see my Halloween Tarot/Vampire story, "False Prophecy" in: Through The Moon Gate (and other tales of vampirism)
In August (the silly season) newspapers carry stories about UFOs. When people are bored (because Congress isn't in season, all their friends at work are on vacation so projects stall, the kids are home going stir crazy), they open their toy box of ideas and get lost in playing with them. It's amusing and refreshing.
Non-fiction about UFO visits to Earth, about Astronauts sightings, other credible witnesses, photos (which we disbelieve more so now than ever), occupy that part of the mind.
I've been a UFO-NUT since grammar school when I found that section in the library and had my Mom take the books out so I could read them. I never believed any of it, but could construct a world where it was true, "...they are watching us!"
Then I met a couple people (at different times) who told of their own abduction by a UFO. Very convincing, especially since they weren't giving speeches about it for money or writing books, or being paid by a newspaper, etc. No profit motive, just a disturbance in life.
I have friends who follow the UFO reports, so one time I was at a speech where the guy was selling a book on the topic, and spent over an hour presenting "evidence" for the validity and verification, the credibility of witnesses, etc. -- pounding away at trying to prove (to an audience of true believers) that UFOs are real.
So afterwards, I listened to everyone reinforcing their true-belief, buying the autographed book, and treating the author as if he were important.
I waited for most to leave, then asked him why, if his case actually convinced him, he is still trying to convince people. If these visitations are real, then accept that and move on to the next logical step -- or to debating what that step should be. If it's true, act as if it's true. If it's not true, shut up.
I've never before or since seen such a totally flummoxed speaker.
He simply had no answer, and as far as I could tell, had never considered that option -- assuming what he knows to be true is in fact true, and going to the next step.
So, I'm still a wide-open question on UFOs in general, kidnappings in particular. It seems to be the reason these people write these "non-fiction" books is to make money. There's more profit in manufactured or exaggerated evidence and sincere insistence on the impossible than there is in the truth.
And that gives you a formula for a hot-hot-hot Romance Character, a UFOLOGIST who doesn't know he doesn't believe what he's peddling.
To write such a story, you need a theory of reality built by ripping items from the headlines - using newspaper stories widely believed as if they are fact.
And you need a theory of existence that explains how and why Tarot and Astrology work, how they are related to each other, and what Aliens From Outer Space have to do with that.
Astronomy and Astrophysics are barreling toward Astrology and Tarot (yes, Tarot is more like Astrophysics, if you look aslant the right way).
Here's a TOY BOX item for you:
Subtitle of that article:
The idea that the universe splits into multiple realities with every measurement has become an increasingly popular proposed solution to the mysteries of quantum mechanics. But this “many-worlds interpretation” is incoherent, Philip Ball argues in this adapted excerpt from his new book Beyond Weird.
Tarot is all about decision points in life, and what you USE of your interior, spiritual, innate or learned skills and resources to navigate the white-water-rapids of life's decision points. This article discusses the new mathematical and quantum physics view of multiple universes -- which has been a staple of science fiction since before JACK OF EAGLES by James Blish (author of the first STAR TREK novel published, SPOCK MUST DIE):
Today, people believe in science even without understanding all that hard stuff. Science has produced usable results (smartphones for one), so people believe in human interference with the cyclical climate surges (glaciations followed by polar melts over millions of years) because it is settled science.
With the setting aside of religion in most organized forms, humans search for things to believe in. UFOs, Romance, Science, multiple universes, all have their share of true believers.
To write science fiction romance of the caliber of James Blish's JACK OF EAGLES, you need to grab and incorporate a bit of speculative science and weld it to a bit of speculative occultism, then build your entire world selecting every detail to symbolize or illustrate that composite element.
Psychics have long predicted, in the New Year's Prediction issues of the papers, that this year Aliens will arrive, reveal themselves, or that we will get a signal from outer space proving there are people out there.
So, to get your readers to suspend their disbelief, you must accept your belief in your fictional world as real.
STAR TREK the original series, (all cardboard sets and flat colored backdrop paintings) as popular and gripping because the actors were able to treat what they were doing as REAL (even when it was using a salt shaker to detect an Alien's state of health).
Writing is a performing art.
Accept the reality of your fictional world, your specific blend of the Esoteric and the Scientific, and sidestep reader disbelief.
Your readers believe in Romance, and believe in Science, and some believe in UFOs (at least during August).
Accept what they believe as actually real. Don't be like the UFO lecturer and be unable to understand what is implied if the belief is real. Accept the reality, and plot onwards through the next action, and the next.
Your characters have to implement their decisions out of the unconscious assumption that these elements are real.
So, suppose your Character is to meet up with (or be kidnapped by) a UFO alien.
What is this Alien?
Use widely believed science to answer that question.
We are now (with orbital telescopes) discovering the size of our Universe,
Another outlet, Gizmodo, (probably working off the same publicist's press release) gives more depth, pointing out Hyperion's relationship to the supercluster Earth is in, Laniakea.
I discussed Laniakea here:
Here are entries where I discuss the STEN SERIES.
So what sort of Alien arrives by UFO (yes, I do love both THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and STARMAN), and kidnaps a human?
Once you determine what sort of alien, you should be able to derive why he would do such a thing.
Keeping in mind the size of the Universe we are now exploring by reading energy particles that are billions of years old, and keeping in mind all the new science produced from putting humans in weightlessness on space stations (showing how humans can't survive a trip to Mars or living there - we are gravity dependent and cosmic-ray sensitive), think hard about an Alien poking around Earth.
If we can't go to their planet (because settled science says so), then how could they come here?
Your readers keep their UFO knowledge in their toy boxes. Make them take that knowledge out of the toy category.
How are we going to go visit Aliens who lived billions of years ago, and will be long dead by the time we get there?
Look around at current science headlines.
And look at what Forbes has been reporting on Artificial Intelligence
Forbes -- a financial organ -- talking about the size of reality and the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and robots as tools.
If we can create Artificial Intelligence, we can begin to determine if intelligence is related to the Soul -- and therefore what makes a Soul Mate.
Before we get to such spiritual questions, it is very likely we'll be sending AI entities to Mars and/or Venus - maybe to explore, to send back resources, to terraform, to build a habitat humans can live in.
Remember, with the nailing of the Higgs Boson, we are starting to get a handle on mass, weight, and perhaps one day, artificial gravity so we can take our fragile bodies out to the stars.
One might expect "Aliens" to haul their habitat around with them, too, but likewise to send ahead a wave of Artificial Intelligence -- not just robots programmed to do things, or remotely controlled as we try to do, but AI that can learn, think, reason, conclude and act.
Perhaps an AI explorer was sent out as an ordinary Intelligence, but along the way somehow acquired a Soul?
Perhaps your Main Character is kidnapped by an Alien AI with a Soul, and the experiments described in so many UFO books are actually an investigation into whether humans have Soul, and if so what Soul might be, where it comes from, and how it can be lost.
Or perhaps the UFO denizens are just trying to find Soul Mates?