I'm afraid to write this post because I don't really know what I'm talking about. Let me just say, I'm not drawing any conclusions. Nope. No conclusions here. Mostly (because I think better this way, which is why I majored in English and not Philosophy), I'm just thinking of stories.
So the other week, Chris made this throwaway comment about openness theology. (How do you make throwaway theological comments? I have no idea. It takes great skill, I think.) Anyway, it got me thinking about the first time I was really confronted with that theology as such. Which was in London; my pastor was mulling it over. I mulled it over, too, because as best as I could work out, the basic idea was that God had an overall plotline for life and the universe, but none of the details were ironed out; thus, He could, potentially, be surprised by our actions.
I do really and honestly believe that God has dignified us with free will, somehow, but I also can't get rid of the idea that He knows and has planned out what's going to happen, and the idea that I could surprise Him kind of freaked me out. Still does. However, the thought kind of lodged, because at the time I was writing a novel. I ended up giving it up as a bad job (which I was just thinking I hope God never does, but you might, I suppose, say that the Noah and the Sodom and Gomorrah stories are kind of like that). However, I hadn't given it up before the characters in it had done some things that I wasn't expecting. You go along, and you write your novel, and your characters really do grow into themselves such that they might end up doing things you didn't expect, just because that's who they are. You designed them that way. You just didn't know how it was all going to play out--even if they manage to get to the end of the book and still bring about the desired ending.
I did not really want to think that the universe might run in just this way. On the other hand, I do have this theory that (sort of like a Platonic ideal, maybe, but not quite) most relationships in life can be turned into parables to reveal truths about the relationship of humans to God. It seemed not totally improbable, then, that the relation of author to character could also be put in this category. It's not like I was the first one to make the comparison or anything.
I have more to tell of this thought-process, and like I said, there are no conclusions. I just don't want to make this post so long that no one reads it, so I'll continue anon. But if anyone feels like reacting, or if any of you writers would like to confirm or deny that this happens to your characters, be my guest.
Photo by jennw2ns: Ladder of Fortune. 2007.