So I’ve been talking a great deal about plot. Actually, my last four posts have been obsessions about it. Seeing as how plot is the main vehicle for story, it seems important, right? Unfortunately, what my researching on plot has revealed to me is that my current work in progress was severely lacking in it. Sure, I had some characters, I had lots of concepts, but I lacked structure. I lacked an actual story. Most stories are propelled forward by some form of conflict, and I was really lacking in that area. My antagonist was weak and his motivations murky at best. It left me with a lot of questions regarding the viability of my “story.”
So, breakthrough while out in the car driving last night. Funny thing though, my initial reaction was what I’m blogging about today. When I thought of the main antagonist’s motivation, his plan, my initial reaction was, “I can’t do that, it might lead to A or B and that’s just too mean.” The problem is, sometimes you have to mean. Sometimes you have to accept that you will become the hated God of your own little created reality.
Does the idea of being God make you wriggle a little? Does it make you uncomfortable? Maybe, but it is the truth. For our stories, we assume the role of the creator. We breathe life into our characters where none existed before, we create the laws of physics, we populate the world with plants and beasts. We guide the events of the story toward our desired ending. Sometimes we are cruel. Sometimes we are kind. We need to be above morality, because sometimes we have to let awful things happen. Sometimes a child, pure and innocent, has to die. Sometimes an entire city needs to be wiped off the face of the earth. Sometimes our hero needs to cry, fail, or die. Ultimately, we are the ones responsible.
I need to let go. I need to accept that if this is right, if what my antagonist is doing are the actions he would take, I need to let him. I can move my hero and his companions into places to keep some of them safe, I can ultimately lead them to a place where they may foil his plan, but I also need to accept that there will be casualties along the way. I have to accept the blood on my hands. I have to accept that letting these things happen does not make me less of a human being, it makes me more of a writer.
As a reader I’ve been let down in the past by authors setting up certain events, only to have them completely back out in the end. I felt betrayed and ultimately the book was less fulfilling. I have to remember that experience as a writer. I have to live up to my readers, which means I have to live up to my story, even if it makes me feel uncomfortable. After all, being God is a tough job.