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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Playing God

When I was a teenager I read this great short story about a kid who was playing in his sandpit, doing all sorts of things to people on a planet he controlled. Some of them were nasty and some of them were nice. I can’t remember the exact story or the title or author; I wish I’d kept it, but things get misplaced over the years. Anyway, it was a great little story and the twist at the end was that ‘god’ was a small boy who got called in for dinner by his parents. It made me think about how we all like to control things and also what if God wasn’t working alone, etc.

So, move the wheels of time forward thirty something years (gosh I’m feeling old), and things come around full circle. It’s my time to play God.

I primarily write YA (young adult) fantasy series. My current series, The Southern Lands, is set in this make-believe world, populated by scores of people, cities, traditions, and magic. Every page sees something happening to a character as they travel through the land’s rich tapestry. And I am God of this land. Me! I get to decide who lives and who dies; who is successful and who is not; who is romanced by who; and everything else besides. It’s not something I take lightly.

And why is that? Well, because of my readers, that’s why. Readers who invest their time and money in my little world don’t want to be disappointed. They want to believe in everything and maybe even live a little through my characters. It’s a sort of escape. Being God has its responsibilities.

As we write our novels and play with the lives of our make-believe characters, it’s a good thing to remember that we are playing God. Every decision we make needs to have a reason and needs to lead to something else happening (we call this cause and event). Just like for us on Earth, actions should have consequences in the worlds we create. Something I’ve discovered during my more than 500,000 words of published novels is that playing God is damn difficult. There are a million balls to keep up in the air at once and a million possibilities of things that could happen as a result of any one action. I find myself laughing when I hunt through a previous book to see what happened to so and so when such and such was going on. After all, I don’t want to get any of my facts wrong. My readers would be disappointed… Stop! What am I saying?

Playing God? I don’t think I’m playing God anymore. I think writing a series of books is harder than actually being God… Is it time for dinner yet?

1 comment:

  1. You know, I gave up the thought of playing GOD a long time ago. My husband banned me from ever doing it again! So, there, it's time for dinner!