Bill Cosby said, “The past is a ghost, and the future a dream and all we have is now.”. Bob Dylan came to a similar conclusion when he sang, “Yesterday’s just a memory
Tomorrow is never what it’s supposed to be…”. William Faulkner said, ” “It’s all now you see: tomorrow began yesterday and yesterday won’t be over until tomorrow.” In life the past, seen through the eyes of the present, isn’t what it was. The future is unknown.
There is the idea of “Karma”. The concept that positive or negative actions in the present can impact the future. Thus, good things should follow good people and bad things bad people. Yet, it is clear some people will do good things and get hit by a bus. Others will do bad things and be rewarded with fame and fortune.
Yet, in fiction an author controls the past, present and future. Thus, the author can seek out justice or turn it on it’s head. Sometimes life is without justice. The poor and disenfranchised rarely have happy endings.Yet, in fiction justice can be created at the whim of the author. At the same to so can sadness and cruelty.
Being an author gives you power to manipulate your world. You need not play by the rules. Sometimes the unexpected can be more fun. In Raider of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones is running through a bazaar when a man challenges Indiana to a sword fight. Indiana expectantly would have engaged him in sword play but instead turns around and shoots him. Not only is this funnier but it is more realistic and moves the story along.
The future should be consistent with the past as far as the attitudes and personality’s of the characters. The past can have a different impact on different people resulting in different futures. Perspective is also important to determine how a character will go through this world. Some people are strengthened and emboldened by adversity. Others are broken. The past shapes or future.
Yet, it is not what has happened but what the character takes away from it. In Wicked the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West it paints a very different characters than in The Wizard of Oz. In Wicked the witch has grown up with adversity and is a thoughtful caring person while Glenda is more vapid and concerned about her station in life. It is the perspective that makes the difference.
In my other life as an attorney I will sometimes write out a closing argument first. That way my evidence will follow my theory of the case. In writing a book it helps to start at the end and work backwards. Life would be a lot different if you were aware of how it would work out prior to engaging in some activity. Yet, that being said life is not a means to an end. The journey through the unknown is part of the fun. It would ruin a book if you read the last chapter first. Yet, in writing a novel, it sure helps to know what will happen in the future.