Some writers like to compare themselves to gods of the worlds they create, prodding their characters this way and that as the write their stories. I’m one of those writers, as blasphemous as it sounds (even more blasphemous when you consider that my parents are rabbis). But in a strange way, it’s true. I come up with an outline for my stories, I start writing, my characters take over to some degree and make their own choices, but at the end of it all they get to where I wanted them to go.

Sounds like God, doesn’t it? My characters, my creations, have free will of a sort in my world, but in the end the story usually works the way I want it to go because this world is mine and I have ultimate say. Evil has a purpose in my world, and so does reward and punishment (in a way). There’s an ultimate plan or idea of where things will go because I will it to be so, but you have to see the whole picture in order to understand the plan.

And I’m going to stop right there before I get a ton of people angry at me.

But if I’m the god of my worlds and my characters, what does that make me? What kind of god am I? I specialize in horror. It’s a dark genre, where anyone can die at any second, where monsters exist, and if you’re lucky enough to live, you might wish you’d died. It’s the genre that revels in the darkest of humanity as well as the best, brings doubt as well as faith, and above all, scares. I’m the god of such worlds, I adore making them up in my mind and then bringing them to life on the page.

What does that say about me? What does that say about any writer that wants to put their characters through torment or hardship? What does it say about God, that His world which He (or She, I’m equal opportunity) authored is so full of darkness?

Well, this isn’t a philosophy or theology post. But it brings up some good questions in those areas. Imagine if the characters we write were real people and the pain we put them through was real to them. Would we want to keep writing anything where they felt pain? Writers often feel like these characters are family to them, like children. If these were our real children, would we want to keep doing these sort of things to them? Would we ever write a story with conflict in it?

And could we continue to worship God with this sort of definition of Him?

The thing is, we’re not God. And our characters are most likely not real. But if they were, we’d probably go about writing sad or tragic stories. Like God, we have a plan, and the characters who we killed off, if we have any amount of mercy in us, we’d give the dead an afterlife to live in, so that killing them off wouldn’t hurt us as much. Because you know what? We have stories to tell, and maybe they’re not happy all the time, but they’re ours and that’s what we write.

And I do feel my characters are real to some degree. But that doesn’t mean I won’t write. After all, their stories deserve to be told.

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