The future is the future is the future and based on our decisions today. Even if you could see the future, it could change with some other decision that you make. You could even change it based on a decision made with the knowledge of that future.
Does that seem confused? It is quite simple. If you know that something bad will happen to you, you might be tempted to avoid it by making the very decision that brought the bad thing down on you. Or you might learn that something good will happen to you and try to make it happen and miss the good thing all together. Who we are at night is not entirely the same person as we were that morning. Life changes us that fast and that slowly. We are not aware of the changes, but a decision we might make at breakfast could change the decision we make at dinner. It’s a simple as that. Life is cause and effect.
You should capture that sort of thing in your writing. Cause and effect can cause conflict. Conflict is the most important element of plotting. Each decision your characters make has an effect on the plot. Your character has a decision to make, take the long, easy road or the rough short cut. Taking the long easy road may get it to its destination too late to do any good, but the rough short cut could kill him/her. Which road it chooses will affect the outcome of the plot. That’s the most basic form of conflict. What should the character do? If it takes the long easy road, it might meet someone who can help. It could pick up a ride, if it is walking. Or it could break down, if it’s driving a car. On the rough road, it could fall off a cliff or down a hole. Or it could find that the going isn’t as rough as it seemed and arrive in good time to save the day.
The only time you can see the future is in any story you are writing. Even then, it is only for the characters of that story. You may know what will happen next, but there should only be hints of what is going to happen, subtle hints, but only a few. Otherwise, you lose your conflict.
Conflict is what drives the story. Conflict is created when a character has more than one option confronting it, the most basic of which is flight or fight. What should it do? Option A could result in D E or F, while option B could produce F, G or H, or even G, H and I, while option C (if there is an option C) could lead to any combination of the six outcomes or even generate three more. The results could also result in more decisions leading to more possible outcomes. The possibilities are endless. That’s how stories move. If your character has no conflict, i.e. choices, then there is no story.
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