When Characters Won’t Cooperate

This gorgeous young woman is the face of a fictitious heroine. She’s Eleanor, the heroine of Book 3 of the Katy Railway Mysteries.*

Eleanor has given me troubles galore. I’ve had readers ask when Book 3 would finally be out. Well, I don’t know. And you can blame Eleanor for that.

Actually, that isn’t true. Poor Eleanor is simply reacting to the untenable situations I keep putting her in. Given her personality and the boxes I’ve placed her in, she has only two choices:

#1 Act in ways that make me not like her. (I.e. ways that are ungodly and completely out of character.)

#2 Walk out of the story entirely.

Well, I’m not a fan of choice #2. If she does that, I have no story. And I’m not a fan of choice #1 either. So, what’s an author to do?

It’s been said that in our story world, authors are like God. We create people and place them in situations, hoping they’ll choose the way of righteousness. In this particular instance, I’ve not been a very good creator.

Now you could say that my characters should be able to handle anything I can throw at them, and perhaps you’d be right. But I’d like to submit a different idea.

When God created me, he gave me a certain personality and placed me in a specific family. Those were decisions I had nothing to do with. That combination of personality and family life, in concert with events I had no control over either, made me the person I am today. They, along with conscious decisions on my part, shaped the way I think and the way I’ll react to any given set of circumstances. (This is the psychological argument of nature vs. nurture—which, in my opinion, isn’t an either/or proposition.)

Here’s the deal though: God, for whom all times are Now, will not place me in the predicament I’ve put Eleanor in. He wouldn’t give me only two choices—to act unrighteously or to walk out of the story. He knows me better than I know myself. If I rely on Him, He’ll give me whatever I need to make right choices. Strength. Peace. Trusting faithfulness. He always gives me a way of escape from any temptation.

I feel so bad for Eleanor. Think I’ll take a page out of God’s book (pun intended) and re-create Eleanor and her situations, so that she has a way to make the choices I want her to make—eventually. Like my God, I’ll choose to be a forgiving creator who gives the creation exactly what she needs and exactly when she needs it. And like I’m learning to trust my creator, I’ll hope Eleanor can trust me.


*At least, that’s the plan. The final decision will be up to the cover designer. (Who is amazing, btw.)

Leave a Reply