Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Path Not Taken

Musical Influence:
My heart beats still
So tell me is this real?
Tell me is it real?
Or is it all a dream
I made up everything.
Can you tell me is this real?
Please just wake me
Up from this bad dream
Please just wake me
Up from everything.

Love and Tragedy, Digital Summer (cause and effect, 2007)

“The correct quantum mechanical definition of parallel universes is "universes that are separated from each other by a single quantum event." (Wiki)

A single event can alter your course forever.

I've always been fascinated with what if. That magical moment when the road splits and you choose one path. But what about the road not chosen? That alternate universe where you made a different decision and your life went in a complete different direction. That path is what fuels my imagination when I'm reading or even when I'm writing. Almost like a chess match. You have to think of all the different outcomes to each decision before you move. And down the road will you rethink your decision or will you be happy with the choices you've made?

I used to get my fix of the what if scenario by reading choose your own adventure books (though I hear they are referred to as “gamebooks” now). I devoured these books. The adventure is told in second person and you assume the role of the protagonist. When I was a kid, usually these books were more male oriented though the gender was never specifically referred to in the book. You could be an adventurer, a detective, a race car driver, a ninja, explorer, spy, astronaut- the possibilities are endless. This also allowed for your imagination to take over and effectively you felt like you were experiencing the story. My favorite ones were the more fantasy oriented books. Unicorns and magical kingdoms and Princes and Princesses. Mythical creatures trolled through the stories causing a ruckus. Each decision took you deeper into the mystery and if you made a fatal mistake, your outcome wouldn't be good. That was part of the fun. These books taught me how each decision you make matters. That no matter what you always need to think ahead and don't be hasty. I take this approach when I write my heroines. Even with my impetuous hot tempered Cin. Each action causes a reaction. The cause and effect method of writing my hero and heroine (even if they're anti-hero and anti-heroine.) Cin makes choices that not only effect her life, but those residing in her realm, outside her realm. The entire system. All for another person. In a choose your own adventure book- the flip of a few pages would leave her outcome very bleak. But in my adventure, this only makes the story more complicated before it becomes clear.

Kiki's story is tragic. Even to me who loves writing those sorts of stories where nothing good has ever happened, the outcome is bleak, her future non-existent. Kiki is tragic. She doesn't know happiness. Or security. Or warmth. Or trust. Her life balance precariously on the tip of a needle, the thread unraveling at an alarming speed. Yet, she struggles to give stability to her younger siblings by keeping them far away from her, far away from the danger and the law-breaking and scheming. To Kiki, Sadie and Kady must have a normal-ish life. No matter what it costs her in the long run.

But that what if nags me. What if Kiki hadn't been influenced by their father. What if her mother wasn't a drug addicted manic who hid away from her children and shielded her children from being used? What if Dex never disappeared into the military? What if when Tory came around it had only been a girlfriend of Dom and never collateral from one business man to another to guard his daughter? What if Tory turned out to be Kiki's best friend instead of bodyguard, keeper, guardian? Sadie and Kady could've been at home with Kiki even without their parents. Kiki could've had a normal life- a boring uncomplicated existence.

What if Dex and Kiki never used one another and married out of love not out of necessity. What if they lived to be happy and healthy. I know what happens. It changes Sadie's life tremendously. It changes her relationship with Ash and that has a chain reaction on Ash's life.

The fact is the what if is always going to be there. The adventure may change scenery and the outcome may be different; but you always have to make a choice. And you're always going to wonder what if even in the creative world.

Tell me the alternate universe to your canon characters. What choice did they make that set them on the path to their HEA? And if they'd chosen the other road, where would they be? I know it's hard to imagine because once your characters set their mind to something, you're destined to follow it out. But just have some fun with them. Would your housewife be a CIA operative? (She's pretty good at wielding a knife.) Would your baseball coach hero be a hitman for the mob? (He can really swing a baseball bat.) Just a little personality quirk can change a character from sweet to sour. And if you're not down with that, how about fictional characters you've read or watched? Tell me about your ideal parallel/alternate universe.


Maureen said...

There's a few times in my Caribbean Spell series where I play with this idea. Miranda is tricked back into her pastself and lured into doing things differently...what happens to Jacob? Or the rest of the family she eventually creates in Port Royal and Tortuga?

It was interesting to the rest of the real world characters have nightmares of life if she'd never arrived and work together to help her discover the trick...

Great fun!

And I played around with this a few times in the Caribbean Spell books...but that isn't hard to do when your lead can travel to alternate worlds...

Maureen said...

OH! How did it change things? Well, Miranda never discovered what she could do but was drained of all power by the villain...

Bentley hung Jacob and all the other pirates. The young couple she friended in Port Royal were never rescued and died. The Governor lost his daughter, Abigail ended up sacrificed to a demon... All sorts of horrible things happen!

All for the lack of one single sexual witch...

quantum said...

What a stimulating start to the day!

Feels like home from home, and written in such lovely lyrical prose.

Wish you would write textbooks on Quantum Mechanics Sin .... you could capture the market and make it all seem easy. 'Sin loose in Hilbert Space' would be a good starting title *smile*

With Quantum parallel universes, the events all exist simultaneously as a probability amplitude. A real event is realised after being 'observed'.

So from yesterdays blog I could be making love to hundreds of gorgeous beauties at one time but then end up in bed with one when her husband makes an observation!

I think that in your writing you are actually concerned with 'complexity' or 'chaotic systems' and are firmly established in the classical domain (Maureen is an exception!)

It's like the flap of a butterfly's wing in Beijing causing a twister in California. Its an extreme sensitivity to initial conditions making the outcome unpredictable for all practical purposes.

God wanted it that way. If the future was predictable life would just become boring! LOL

Marnee Bailey said...

If Violet hadn't decided to marry her first husband.... She probably would have chosen another guy who would have been what her family wanted for her--wealthy, titled, polished--but who would have been equally wrong for her. Back then, she wanted to please the family she loved so much.

Now... well, now she's going to decide what she wants for herself.

Thad? If Thad hadn't lost his mother so young. Or, if his father had cared more about his responsibilities to his family and less about drinking and carousing, Thad might view the world and marriage a whole lot differently.

But, ultimately, these conflicts are what make my story. So I'm kinda happy (in a non-masochistic kind of way) for these problems. LOL

Sin said...

Seriously, I can't imagine how fun it would be to be able to toy with your characters past life as a part of the canon. Time travel interests me. Though, I'm one of those pessimists that think "if I went back and changed something in my life, I'd come back and stuff would not be better. It would be decidedly worse".

Chanceroo your brain never ceases to amaze me.

Sin said...

Dearest Q, you know I quoted the Quantum mechanical definition just for you.

Writing "realms" parallel to our existence really got me thinking about if you do one thing here, what happens there? What changes? How does it affect?

Life is certainly not boring. The complexity of everything makes me want to research more. I need a job where I can just do research on random things. I don't want to find cures or find loopholes. I just want to know everything.

Sin said...

I do love conflicts. I love how they complicate the story. And you're right, Marn, without these conflicts and complications we give our characters they're empty shells. These give them the lives that allows us to put them together.

Violet, the starter wife. Thad, the player.

Terri Osburn said...

I love the idea of choices you bring up here, Sin. (Great blog, btw.) I touch on this in my latest book. The heroine keeps saying the hero really doesn't have a choice in a certain situation and her brother says yes he does. There's always a choice. One option might be tougher to make than the other. The potential fall out for one choice might be worse than the other.

But there is still always a choice.

Since my debut is called MEANT TO BE, it's pretty simple to say if Beth had not agreed to marry Lucas (though she wasn't really in love with him) then she never would have been on that ferry. And she never would have met his brother. And then my story would never have happened.

But even further back, if Lucas's dad hadn't been killed then his mother never would have married Joe's dad, and then the boys wouldn't be brothers. Again, then Beth and Joe might never have met.

The options are endless! But then maybe they still would have met, just under different circumstances. That's the mystery of life. If two people are really meant to be, would they meet eventually no matter what choices they make?

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

My current heroine is basically a version of the grim reaper. Born into it as a god with no choice. But...yes of course the story is about her finding a way to have a choice.

I did do some thinking about what if she'd been born mortal or had the choice to change to human earlier in life before she fully understood what it meant.

She totally would have been a cupcake baker who married the most boring but healthy dude she could find - she'd be obsessed with making him live as long as possible.

MsHellion said...

GOOD Blog!

Adam & Eve--the chip between them that carries out the premise is that when Adam died, Eve didn't meet him in Heaven. He thought she didn't care, but she thought if he really loved her, he'd seek HER out, chase after her rather than the other way around. But he didn't. SO if Adam had hunted her out when he got to Heaven, the story wouldn't have happened. That's what I think anyway.

Nellie & Brody: what if she did marry Steve? And what if he'd never written that story series about his brother?

P. Kirby said...

Interesting and sort of head spinny exercise.

The first chapter in my first novel shows the protagonist's choice to cheat her way through magic school. If Regan hadn't cheated, she wouldn't have made it through school. Which means she wouldn't be in her current career, and the whole story wouldn't have happened. What she did in this alternate pathway, after she flunked out, would probably be just as interesting, though.

Benjamin and Maya. If Benjamin hadn't gone all emo-whiny pants, "I want to go home," he wouldn't have broken into her house and they never would have met. If he got married, as he planned to years, before, they wouldn't have met. OTOH, Adam, the antagonist probably still would have come after Maya at some point.

WIP. In one scene, Erik muses about choices (he's made some bad ones), observing that if he had just kissed the girl, his brother's fiancee (also a bad choice), the ensuing chaos probably would have distracted him from his planned military coup. He wouldn't now be a criminal living in an alternate universe.

Funny. My brain has a hard time with this because it sees the existing story as immutable, even with the WIP.

Terri Osburn said...

And I thought Chance was twisted. Pat just totally lost me!

Maureen said...

I got most of that...

I realized after I'd commented last night, that I play with this a lot. But that is the nature of a character than can slip between realities. In one, she's married with kids and happy as a lark, in another she's dead, in another she's...

In my books I call it the Current. Life is one big river that breaks into tributaries and sometimes they run back together and something they peter out and sometimes they go on forever... In the end, it all starts in the ocean and it all ends in the ocean.

My Holmes story has a heroine who lost herself and split without realizing it and when she tried to go home she found she was already there...


Sin said...

Thanks for playing along today guys. I know thinking about the alternatives for your characters can be somewhat weird and unconventional.

I also realize how much it sucks that I never have much time to read and reply.

Sin said...

If two people are really meant to be, would they meet eventually no matter what choices they make?

Good question. Fate's hand plays a part in if we meet who we're supposed to meet at the exact time. But what happens if you're five minutes late.

If Beth hadn't agreed to marry Lucas and she wouldn't have been on the ferry, how else would Beth have met Joe? If I hadn't been working in a retail store and the Undead Monkey hadn't been taking a walk through with the HR rep, would we have never met?

Sin said...

So maybe Fate has a hand in our decisions and influences the paths we take.

I feel like that's the lesson I'm taking away today.

Sin said...

Pat- emo whiny pants. My new favorite description.

Tell me about your character? Oh you know, he's all emo whiny pants.


Sin said...

Chanceroo, someone who lost herself and split... that is so boss.

Mine uses her soul to bind another. So her body lives one life while her soul lives another. And a soulless body lives without morals or a conscience so that's quite a bit of fun.

MsHellion said...

I think we meet the people we're supposed to meet in life, regardless of other decisions you may make. I think Fate and Free Will work together somehow--using their powers of parallel universes. :)

Maureen said...

I think we should be able to meet everybody... ;-)