So I’m reading this book right now (well…audiobook…but still) and I stopped about four days ago because I started to realize what the major conflict is probably going to be, and it makes me SO MAD that it’s going to happen that I just haven’t been able to do it right now. Like, if I don’t read it, it won’t happen. The protagonist won’t have to suffer, certain characters won’t earn my everlasting hatred, etc. This gets me thinking all philosophically/epistemologically about the fact that it has already happened, when the author thought of it, when she wrote it, and every time someone read it. But it hasn’t happened for me and I’m still clinging to that. I know that it will eventually work out okay. That the conflict will be resolved, and by the end of the book or series things will be even better than they are now. But I just don’t want to go through the pain right now.
When I write, however, I have realized that I MUST give pain and suffering to my protagonists. Not just because conflict is the core necessity of fiction, but because my main characters NEED it to get to where they need to be. Without the pain, they won’t be able to get past the bad habits/traits that hold them back. They won’t be able to get together with their love interest and have a satisfying relationship. They won’t be able to grow and become and possibly save the world.
Which, I decided in my further pondering, must be exactly how God feels. He KNOWS what needs to happen to make us better, because he knows us personally and he knows what works. He KNOWS what will happen if we follow the plot he has outlined, and he knows what will happen if we don’t. The difference between God and authors, though, is that I can control the character. God does not control us. If we insist on languishing, as I am doing with that book I mentioned, trying to avoid the pain, pain will happen anyway. If we insist on trying to avoid the growth available for us, God will let us. Our character arc will remain unresolved and unsatisfied. Whether our story has a happy ending is up to us.