HBO’s Westworld became my favorite new sci-fi show of 2016. It’s set in the future at an amusement park (Westworld) where guests can pretend they are in the Wild West by participating in gunfights, train heists, romantic entanglements, treasure hunts, and any other plot from a Western film. The park is populated by lifelike robots, each programmed with a background and storyline that allows them to interact with the guests depending on the journey the human chooses.
**Spoiler Alert** Don’t read the next part if you plan to watch the series.
But the robots start remembering past storylines and past backgrounds. The park’s stories change through the years so the robots are recycled and given new identities as the park’s writers phase out the old stories to give the guests new adventures. Maeve (Thandie Newton) is a Madam of the whorehouse. She wakes up as the park’s engineers are making repairs to her body and discovers she isn’t human. She then begins to remember a past plot where she was a mother living in the prairie with her young daughter. Maeve decides to take control and write her own plot—one that involves her escape from Westworld.
People magazine interviewed Thandie Newton about Maeve and why fans were drawn to this character who isn’t human. Newton’s response resonated with me both in my life and in the stories I create:
She [Maeve] is fighting for liberation and truth. People believe they are who they’ve been told from the moment they can understand. But you get to choose. People are recognizing that for themselves through her.
In Westworld, the robots are given identities and backstories. Their lives are literally written for them. But Maeve found a way to take control and choose her destiny by defining who she is.
In my books, my character’s journeys (and choices along the way) define their lives and who they become by the end.
In real life, remember that you have the power to choose who you want to be. Don’t let others attempt to write your plot for you.