There’s a story that turns up every so often where one of the characters wonders what things would have been like if x hadn’t happened. If they’d never been born; if they’d never met their partner; if they’d never found the item that turned them into a superhero. Some films that spring to mind are It’s a Wonderful Life, Shrek 4 and Sliding Doors.
It’s something I occasionally think about when writing a story, or more usually, rewriting a story. Sometimes when I’m rewrite I think of a good idea and start to include it, only to find I’ve already done it a few pages later.
I feel as if I’m creating when I write, but how much creation is there? How much of the path of a book is fixed by my experience and personality? As my friend Eric Brown often says, writing is about letting your subconscious take over. Part of becoming a writer is learning how to do that…
I’ve written more about this here: I Used to Worry about Finishing Stories