On Free Will — Characters Surprise the Author

Is there free will with God as the author of all things?  In my metaphor Author/Story, I mention that although an author creates the general narrative and guides it along, sometimes the narrative takes a surprising turn. Characters seem to have a life of their own and surprise the author with what they do.  I wrote a novel (a techno-thriller) years ago and also found this to be the case.  You think you have the plot in hand but at some point, a character goes off-script.  Huh?  Where did that come from?  What I suggested in the metaphor was that this might represent free will in the grand narrative that God authors. God has an idea of how God would like the narrative to unfold but God also respects the freedom of the characters to influence how things proceed. In fact, God imbues that freedom such that life has meaning but also risk.

Here are some examples of authors supporting the idea that characters do seem to have a life of their own.

Raine ThomasEven though I create detailed character sketches before I write a book, my characters love to surprise me. My character Skye, in the Daughters of Saraqael Trilogy, for example, revealed that she could teleport in the midst of me writing her book, Foretold. That completely took me by surprise, and it took the book in a wonderful new direction!

Scott Bury: Many writers refer to their books as their “babies,” but it seems that the characters are the children—we create them, but then they develop minds of their own and continue to surprise, exasperate and delight us.

My characters surprise me constantly. My characters are like my friends – I can give them advice, but they don’t have to take it. If your characters are real, then they surprise you, just like real people.”

Remember, this is an idealism metaphor but sometimes metaphors point to a deep truth.

 

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