Posted by: Phil Anderson | August 4, 2014

Losing Control

Is it even possible for a writer to lose control of his characters?

When I write I usually have a central idea or a concept that I’m trying to explore. At least a general idea that “this is what happens in this story.” Characters are created for a purpose, and everything they say or do should propel them toward fulfilling that purpose. As personalities and motivations develop, characters can change. But they still have to fulfill their purpose, otherwise they need to be redirected or removed.

I’m glad God doesn’t work that way.

I’ve written before that being a writer is like being God. I can create a world and the characters who live there, and I control everything that happens. As a matter of fact, I’m a lot more controlling than God is.

God allows his creations, his “characters,” free will. We can make decisions that might be contrary to what he desires, but he allows it. It may not be good for us, and it doesn’t seem to propel us toward fulfilling his purpose for us, but he allows it. And what’s more, it doesn’t prevent him from continuing the story he’s “writing” for each of us.

When my characters start to drift away from the narrative I’m trying to create, I have to rein them in. But God gives each of us the freedom to deviate from his desirous will, and he’s unperturbed when we do. No matter how much we try to change it, it’s always still his story, and it will come out the way he intends.

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