Please, before flagging this question as subjective or generic, take a moment to read it through. IMO this is a valid, specific question, albeit a bit complex.

To try and unpack the admittedly obscure title, I will use an example:

Imagine you have a character who plans her life and daily activities according to "fate" or "signs". Let's say she has suffered some past trauma and thinks she is fated to never meet a kind man. Now, assume you want to introduce a turning point in the narrative journey, something that will make this woman realize that there is no such thing as fate.

Any thought on how to achieve that, since the idea of a turning point seems intrinsically connected with the very notion it tries to dispel (the presence of fate)?

EDIT: Based on Anir Mass's input, I'd like to clarify this a bit: By "turning point", if the term isn't transparent, imagine something in the direction of a "Deus ex machina" device. In our case, then, the question becomes: How do you "awaken" someone from their fallacious thought that life should be lived according to signs, if such a device (i.e. that would cause the awakening) can be construed as a sign itself

  • Explain what you mean by "the idea of a turning point seems intrinsically connected with the very notion it tries to dispel (the presence of fate)" That makes no sense to me. Characters react to events, emotionally and intellectually. If you want a character to change her mind on something, have something happen to her. Which is quite obvious. As it stands, this question is vague, and doesn't ask anything remotely specific. try to improve it.
    – anir mass
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 22:25

5 Answers 5


I see your problem, humans can show striking ingenuity in constructing narratives to support the notion that everything is a divine sign. I can only come up with two solutions:

  1. The chaotic one. Rather than trying to destroy her narrative, have her realize that different narratives can be constructed around the same events and take agency as the writer of her life. The lazy way to do this is to introduce her to a teacher figure with such a radically different worldview from hers that she will have to reconsider everything she knows, someone who will plunge her life into chaos by showing her the forking paths where she sees clear road signs. It seems much harder to replace this with an impersonal force, but hey, maybe it is possible. By the end she should ideally have enough self-awareness to note the irony of the situation - how fateful the encounter that made her denounce the idea of fate was.

  2. The satirical one. Look up "Inside Amy Schumer - The Universe" with Bill Nye on YouTube for reference. See how the ridiculousness escalates? You can have your characters' beliefs become increasingly monstrous in their selfishness. Then any reminder that she is not the center of the universe should be enough to make them crumble.

Good luck!

  • 1
    Your answer was extremely perceptive and 100% on the money, at least from where I stand. I was thinking of something in that direction. In other words, I thought to make interpretation of facts (rather than facts themselves) my point of attack - i.e. the tangent where the character's worldview will need to change. Thanks for your input, it really helped!
    – user16555
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 8:00

I hate to try to divine motive, but are you sure this is a story question? It sounds more like you are trying to make an argument than tell a story, more like you are trying to find a way to convince that reader that their lives are not governed by fate than that you are trying to find a convince the character.

The destruction of someone's life view is worthy matter for fiction, but the focus should then be on the experience of abandoning one view or adopting another. It should not really be germane whether the new view is more correct than the old one (per the author's view). If the work is actually an argument for one life view against another, it is a polemic, not a novel. Then the question becomes, what are the arguments against fate, which would clearly be off topic here.

But if the topic is, what it the experience of conversion from one worldview to another like, then there are countless conversion stories you can look at, a surprising number of which are more about the nature of the experience of conversion than about the rightness or wrongness of the new/old views.


So basically, the question is, how can she change her mind on fate, given that she takes every event that happens to her as fated?

That's a tough one.

Well, a turning point here could be an intellectual one. Let's assume, as you mentioned, she believes she's not fated to meet a kind man. Rather than having events prove her wrong by introducing her to a kind man, despite her expectations, perhaps you could try changing her mind on the matter, by seeing how unreasonable her belief is.

This starts with emotions, then thought, then conviction changes slowly, almost imperceptibly.

1- she meets a person who has a similar, more extreme belief, in fate 2- that person makes a bad, or a series of bad decisions that the main character sees as ridiculous and wrong. 3- such decision ruin the character's life in some way (death? suicide?), which affects the main character emotionally. 4- This leads to her blaming her friend's silly notions 5- then a realization of similarities in concept, if not in form 6- the main character revises her own beliefs. 7- The main character makes a decision. Remain in the comfort of old beliefs, or get rid of them, even if driven only by grief and doubt.

The most important part here, in my opinion, is the decision. That is what would make a reader relate to the main character or not.

In any case, this is my take on it. Hope it helps.


I think you need to present an alternative explanation of why things happen, and provide your character reason to believe the alternative. For example:

  1. Chaos. Everything happens at random. Have the character get to know one of two men based on the roll of a die.
  2. Human Agency: Things happen because we cause them to happen. Have the character do something that causes the desired outcome, rather than having it imposed from outside. e.g. Sign up to a dating web site where she can find the ideal man.
  3. A bigger god: Replace a belief in "fate" with a belief in different kind of super-natural agency.
  4. A combination of these.

What I did in one of my stories is to have the character change her mind about "fate," even while believing in "signs."

Briefly, my heroine meets a man who echoes something she did before her trauma. But while she continues to believe in fate, she starts to question the premise that her fate is not to meet a kind man. Because she also takes this "echoing as a "sign" that this is the one for her. And when he does turn out to be kind, then she maintains her belief in "signs," and decides that she read her fate wrongly.

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