OK, here’s the deal…Part 2

–For those of you who haven’t read the little disclaimer at the top of Part 1, now’s the time. I can’t guarantee reading Part 1 itself will clarify matters any, but it can’t hurt.

So, as discussed therein, I have these characters. They are bits of my true authentic psyche, and I’d like to tell their story. Trouble is, I’ve tried using that as a basis for novel-writing before, with other characters, and it fizzled badly. Turns out transcribing careful character setups doesn’t, in fact, automatically = plot.

The current character set have been through quite a few settings in my head, shifting as my interest did. They began, as noted, negotiating a post-apocalyptic landscape, satisfying both my need for geopolitical reassurance and daydreams about loyalty and friendship (why yes, I was a total loner in school, why do you ask?)

After awhile, the threat of the Evil Empire faded and/or I ran out of ways to anticipate Tank Girl, and they accordingly settled down…on another planet. Becoming aliens was a natural lead-out from enabling them to survive nuclear winter, I guess. Anyhow, they were soon settled in a remote farming community – at odds with the hi-tech colony that occupied the rest of the planet.
This is where things get interesting (assuming any of this is interesting). See, around this same time I’d begun serious Bible study, which necessarily involved some emphasis on the angels who ‘forsook their proper place’, came to Earth, and were condemned for it. Aspects of which somehow must’ve captured my imagination, somewhere.

At any rate I now imagined my characters as a sort of Star Trek version of the Nephilim, the oversized, six-fingered offspring of – this is where you have to try hard not to laugh – literal energy beings, who had encountered a human survey party that had crash-landed on their planet, established relationships, and taken human form to be with them. The humans in turn had destroyed their remaining technology and taken up a pioneer’s life.
The arrival of more humans, and more to the point their technology, had disrupted the ecosystem to the point where the aliens were forced to disintegrate into the ether again, and the humans and their hybrid children had retreated to live as recluses. As my ‘story’ opened, the adult humans had disappeared as well, leaving their now-teenagers behind to be awkward afterthoughts…possibly something more serious, albeit totally unwitting. And therein lies the plot, such as it was.
This is the problem I run into when I try to organize it all now; there wasn’t really a plot, just an excuse for my characters to be together – in a primitive-type setting, so I could have them overcoming obstacles and such. (It’s really hard to send the type of drama I’m interested in down a cellphone.) All of the above extraneous matter developed over the course of years, as necessary; my main concern was what was going on among them, in isolation.

What was going on was a network of complicated dramatic interpersonal stuff that I gradually became fascinated by for its own sake. The characters defined their relationships to each other, inflicted damage on each other, and overcame the damage – or not. Had romantic adventures, dealt with outsiders – sometimes the same thing, sometimes not. Put simply, they became people. An entire satisfyingly complex story grew up around their growth.

As noted, not much if anything of this had to do with alien colonies and energy beings and such, and the belated efforts I made to sync them back together were awkward at best. By this time I’d anyway moved beyond my Trekker phase into the pash for Victorian(ish) England that marked my twenties. My new models were Anne Perry and Catherine Cookson, whose POV of the era as one of constant tension between forms and reality jibed well with my own ideas. Soon it was hey-nonny-hey for the windswept moors in my head, too.

The interpersonal angst made a whole lot more sense in this setting, enabled me to expand it in several interesting ways. Trouble was, I wasn’t any closer to a coherent plot. Much further away, actually, since the new mileu didn’t spring from my own ideas but a patchwork of borrowed ones. I mean, I’m from the Canadian suburbs circa 1971, it’s not quite the same.
The whole lot were translated into the cast-offs of…well, I don’t know, really.  I did try a couple permutations of the standard ‘secret shame of wealthy families’ bit (even threw in some mysterious landed gentry on the moor) but got bogged down trying to figure a secret that would be shocking! and, er, interesting at the same time. By now I’d recognised the Nephilim parallels – quite the bemusement for a committed Christian! – and considered a lot of different riffs on  ‘forsaking one’s proper place’, but that kept leading me back to some sort of Frankenstein-ish thing, which…no.

So…that’s where I stand. All the interesting reasons for the interpersonal stuff are over on the alien side, but all the relevance to same is out on the windswept moors somewhere, and…I need to figure this out. I’ve made a lot of attempts in the period between part 1 and now, and I can see tantalizing glimpses, but I can also see sometimes that I should maybe toss the lot out and start again. Except I don’t wanna. *stomps feet firmly*.

…Paraphrasing Daffy Duck: "I bet this never happens to Margaret Atwood."
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