Isn’t every story a conflict of sorts?
And, come to think, isn’t every mind?
I happened to be listening to a little something about Star Trek, while making a bit of a mess in a fair old project of mine besides writing for a change. Someone mentioned one of my favourite characters in all its lengthy canon: McCoy, and they put his purpose very well: to oppose everyone else’s initiative, to question and to annoy. No surprise that I like him! He’s just the kind of character that’s the most fun to write.
But I wonder who’s playing his rôle in Alpha, or Proteus. This will be one to look out for when I give them their much needed read. It’s a flat kind of story that has no argument, not least the kind who is personified, smiling back at you.
However, I thought something deeper. In a pretty big sense, Madala is her own opponent. And so too is her brother. We all have a bit of our opposite inside us, a psychological conceit as old as eastern philosophy and I dare say many a western tale as well. But some of us suffer it harder than the rest. Some people are born to struggle on the inside. Some of the more compelling people I’ve met, no less. I think we all have it to a degree, but that fire doesn’t always blaze as bright. It can truly drive a mind to the edge of the world, for better and, alas, for worse.
I don’t know quite how well I’ve written that side of Alpha’s leading brother and sister. In all honesty, it’s make or break. They tease it out of each other so very badly that I’ll have failed if I can’t get this working. The heat of the contest they fight between themselves for their lives is Alpha’s urgent heart. And yet that’s not the layer I mean the most. Rather, I want to see Madala’s doubt. I want to understand Katerina, her human alter ego, that brief while she’s on the page.
Alpha’s time is coming. I know that. Reading through its predecessor Proteus lately, finding a name for every piece, I could still well remember what I meant as I wrote it. But for the first time, I sensed a little altitude. A better vantage over my faulty words. A place to be, when their brutal rain must come. To write is to cut. To tell is to hear yourself as your self again. To speak, I’m afraid, is to sing.