We Can’t Be

“We can’t be characters in a story.”

Why Not?

“Because it would be a really boring story.”

That’s a good argument. And the only thing I have to say to that is that perhaps your story hasn’t been told yet. The exciting parts are yet to come. You see, every character in every story has what is called a back-story. The characters have a history that predates the story that they are in. They bring attitudes, habits, and traits based on this back-story. If characters didn’t have a back-story, we wouldn’t be able to explain why they act in certain ways in certain situations. In fact, a character can’t exist without some kind of back-story.

“Okay that’s all well and good, but what about free will?”

What do you mean?

“If we are characters in a story, then everything is spelled out for us and we therefore wouldn’t have free will. We couldn’t make any personal choices.”

If you believe in free will this sounds like a conundrum. If you don’t believe in free will, it’s an easy answer. Let’s just assume that free will does exist, which I wholeheartedly believe it does. I think we have to make choices in our lives everyday and that we do have the power to make any choice we feel fit to.

“But how could we do this if we are just a character?”

Easy. Ask any writer about the characters in their stories and they will speak of them as if they are actually living and breathing people. I know that I have had some amazing points in my writing where the characters have actually made some decisions that I wasn’t expecting. At some point in the writing of fiction, the characters seem to come alive and make their own choices. Sometimes the story goes a completely different direction that what the author originally intended.

Writers grope their way through a work and discover the story as they go along. Even writers who do extensive planning will have these moments of inspiration where the characters do exercise their own free will. It is something that we may never be able to explain or scientifically prove but it exists and millions of people can attest to this fact.

“Who writes the stories then?”

That’s a good question.

“Ah, I caught you, didn’t I?”

Actually no, you didn’t. I think that it’s possible that we write our own stories. We all have free will and therefore we create our stories based on our decisions.

“Okay, but someone had to write our back-story?”

Ah, good to see you’re following along. I have three theories on this one. First, there is one supreme writer who creates all the characters. The Earth is the setting for his story and all the characters on this planet contribute to the story in some way.

Second Theory. The writers exist in another space and time. Everything that exists in our world was written by an author in another plane of existence.

Third Theory. Our stories were created be someone on this earth. Not all stories need to be written down and published. Perhaps some of the stories never really leave the author’s mind. Imagination is a powerful tool that everyone can, and does tap into.

“Now that sounds ridiculous.”

This is where faith needs to come in. Anything that we study can never truly be fully realized. There will always be a mystery. But there is enough evidence and writing to suggest that story is the nature of reality.

“I don’t believe you.”

You of course are free to believe whatever you want. But I do have a few more eamples and arguments to present.

“Bring them on.”

I will. Shall we meet here again next week?

“Sounds good. I so look forward to our debates.”

Me too. Thanks.

2 thoughts on “We Can’t Be

  1. Hi Chase,

    Shortly after starting this read, I realized it it part of your series. I need to go back and read each chapter so I can keep up.

    The part you wrote about the characters taking over the story, reminds me of how so many bloggers speak of a “muse”. It’s an amazing phenomenon, isn’t it?

  2. Yeah, that phenomenon really makes me wonder where ideas come from.

    I am currently writing a short story and even though I am only 800 words into it, the characters have already surprised me. In fact, I haven’t introduced the title character yet.

    It’s already a different story than the one I first envisioned. Amazing, isn’t it?

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