Everything happens for a reason. Well, it seems to in most fiction. The role that chaos plays in real life is often absent from popular genres. The chance encounters and equally weird missed connections that are part of life — at least my life — are often replaced with the concept that everything happens for a reason.
People come into your life at a particular time and in a specific manner to “teach” you a lesson and the characters with faith in the wisdom of the universe prevail over those who maintain that there is an unpredictable, illogical, completely chaotic side to existence. I see this over and over again in all genres and have often wondered why more authors don’t embrace chaos. Is it because crafting a message is an irresistible temptation? Is it because authors want to create a comprehensible universe in words when the real one is out-of-control?
I’m not sure.
What I do know is that by allowing for chaos in my stories, I’ve opened up the possibility that things happen without deep meaning. This has transformed the thoughts of my characters and exposed how we all look for meaning and patterns, even where there are none.
Right now, I’m contemplating the “final act” (last 50 pages) of my novel-in-progress first draft. This is where everybody finds out everything — or close to everything. And the confusions that come from individual perceptions are revealed — sort of…. Like in real life, the characters can imagine what the dead characters thought, but can never entirely know the truth. The survivors can embrace not knowing or tell themselves stories about why it all happened as it did.
I want the ending to be satisfying for the reader, but not to be an easy answer to questions that have no real answers. Embracing chaos is a tricky business.