Writers are a funny lot. Some might even say crazy. We talk (aloud or silently) to people who don’t exist. We create lives, backgrounds—indeed, entire worlds for them. We lovingly choose names, long-lost loves, friends, babies, hobbies and jobs, and if we really love them, we put them in mortal danger. Then when it looks like they might escape, we snatch defeat from victory. All so you can have an exciting story to read.
Well, that’s not really true. Most of us write whether we ever sell the manuscripts or not. We write because we have to. The stories bubble up from somewhere deep inside us and must be let out.
Depending on what genre we write, we may have more strange quirks. Suspense writers spend hours trying to figure out how to harm or even kill someone. I have a friend who, at her daughter’s gymnastics practice, suddenly blurted out to another mother who was a nurse, “How can I shoot someone in the chest, and hurt him really bad, but not kill him?”
Romance novelists create obstacle after obstacle to keep their lovers apart until the v-e-r-y l-a-s-t chapter. What kind of friend would that be to have around? “I’d like to have lunch with you, but my house is flooded/my father won’t approve/I have to move across the country.…” They’d always be cancelling on you.
And historical fiction writers, like me, are always researching. “When are you making dinner, Mom?” “Just as soon as I figure out what kind of fruit was in season in the spring in Egypt three thousand years ago.” “Never mind … I’ll make grilled cheese.”
But one thing we all have in common—that only other writers understand—is that we often have very little control over our characters. In my first book, I introduced a girl. (Ah yes, the girl…) My books are not romances, and she wasn’t important to the plot. She was only there to provide a situation for my hero to display his anger issues. She was supposed to show up once and never return. But she wouldn’t go away. My non-writer friends say, “What do you mean? You’re the writer, aren’t you? Don’t your people do what you tell them to do?”
Not always. She just kept hanging around, and eventually he married her. (That’s not a spoiler—their story is definitely a subplot.) But sometimes we plot a whole novel out and the characters just refuse to go where they’re told.
Another character was supposed to die about one-third of the way through the book. My crit partners liked him so much they kept saying, “Oh, I love him! I hope he doesn’t die when such-and-such happens.” In that case, I made a conscious decision to keep him. And now he’s the hero in the sequel. (He owes my crit partners his life. Literally.)
Unfortunately, real life doesn’t work the same way. Many’s the time I would have written events in a completely different way from the way things actually played out. In life, we are not the creator, the author—God is. And if we let Him, He will always write a better story than any we can come up with. In all of those times I would have changed it, I would also have regretted it, because it turned out for the best when I stepped aside and let Him have His way.
That’s hard to do, I know. Have you ever done that? What did you learn? Did it encourage you, strengthen your faith? Share with us! Let us encourage each other, AND you’ll be entered into the drawing for our lovely gift-basket give-away filled with:
Laughing With Lilly and Second Chance by Eileen Rife;Unconditional by Tanya Eavenson; In the Shadow of Sinai by Carole Towriss; Yesterday’s Promise, Jewels of the Kingdom and A Cowboy’s Christmas and two beautiful jewelry pieces by Deliah Latham; Sweet Freedom With a Slice of Peach Cobbler by numerous authors, Heaven’s Prey by Janet Sketchley; and Enemy in the Room, Ten Lies, Ten Truths, On the Edge, andThe President by Parker Hudson.
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