• J. Alleyn

Playing God

I know I've rambled about a lot in my previous blogs, but this time, I want to talk about what it's like to create a whole world...

I titled this blog with a bit of anxiety because it sounds so bad, but I didn't intend to sound narcissistic. When I talk about playing a god, I mean that every world I create is now my responsibility to care for. Not every story is anchored in a universe that functions the same way as ours does. Heck! Our own world has grown and evolved over the ages. Just like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, we would feel we were not in Kansas anymore if we traveled forward or backward in our own world. That being said, as a writer, I have to take into account the reader's perspective and help them understand this new world.

Normally, my stories are born from a character first, but they quickly grow into more characters that interact. This creates conflict, and that leads to what kind of world they live in. If you really think about it, aside from atmosphere, terrain, and universe mechanics, people are what make a world. Sure, we can have a planet with no life aside from plants and minerals, but even those interact with one another, creating conflict and stories all their own. I might have just given myself an idea...

Anyway, once I have some conflict or a theme between characters, next comes the framework they interact in. Do they live in a favorable environment that was once peaceful, or has struggling always been a way of life that bled over into aggression that led to wars and violence? Interesting way of looking at things, right? Realistic conflict has motivation from all sides. That means the antagonists have real reasons for what they are doing. Are they a product of their circumstances that crave power to survive longer than everyone else? Do they have a sympathetic goal or mission that they refuse to compromise on that interferes with the protagonist's life? Even better, do they know the true nature of the world that the heroes have been sheltered from?

As the omnipotent creator, all of these characters reveal their true selves to me. Sometimes, I let them follow their own paths and choices. Other times, I intervene and make a change they did not expect. Again, this is just another aspect of our own lives. We can make our own way in life and deal with our own consequences. There are also times unexpected change happens that throws us off course and changes everything. These realistic events make the story relatable for readers. How many times has this happened to you? I know I've had plenty.

Now, the ultimate question: How does it end? In my experience, I have only known the answer to that from the beginning once. Oftentimes, it is something I discover during the development process as I flesh out details in the story. A few times, the ending has changed during the writing process, and that has sideswiped me every time it happens. I find myself as shocked as the characters. Still, at the end of it all, the choice rests with me if this is the way I want the story to end...

I have mentioned before in a post that I believe a story is meant to teach. That means I don't like to leave unresolved conflict. There is enough indecisiveness in the world as it is. A hero must always have a conclusion to his journey. Whether that means he grasps the elixir and returns home or loses his fight and ends his journey wiser than he began, there is always a destination to be reached. Bittersweet it may be, just like finishing the last sentence on the last page, the final period is made with purpose for me. It is always my privilege to walk that journey with them, but as the creator, I must also watch my world die away.

That is what it feels like to play the god of a world. It's beautiful, heartbreaking, and meaningful. At least, it is for this storyteller. Thanks for reading again, guys. Until next post, be blessed. -J

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