God and the Art of Writing

In my teens and early twenties I attempted to write fiction. I tried to learn everything there was about the subject. It didn’t turn me into a fiction writer, but it gave me a new world view. 

Because as I writer, I realized, God was a colleague. 

If you look at things from a fictional character’s point of view… you, the writer, are God. You’re in charge. You write the story. If you’re a good writer, of course, you listen to your characters and their story and let it unfold. But it’s still you who’s got all the power. Your characters can try their hardest, but it’s all up to you. 

If you look at things from a writer’s point of view - you love your characters. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to make things easy for them. Au contraire, the more you love them, the more challenges you throw at them. Because… no conflict, no transformation. You watch them go about their days, trying their hardest, and every time things look pretty good, you think, “What fiendish obstacle can I place before them now? How can I get them near breaking point?” 

Of course, you usually also make sure there’s one or more ways your characters can get themselves out of trouble. But you challenge them, you stretch them, you make them fight. 
They’re never alone, although they might not realize. 

So whenever close to despairing, it’s good to peek over God’s shoulder and think, “Ah, so that’s where you’re going with that.” And if you’re particularly sneaky, you might attempt to cheat and catch a glimpse of the first draft or notes … if they’re halfway legible, what with all the coffee stains and tears.

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