Writer Control


I feel stories bubbling up to the surface, wanting to be told. With my fiction, I may not always choose the story – sometimes the story chooses me but ultimately I determine the course the story takes, how it will be told and what defines the beginning, middle and the end. I determine what is revealed in each chapter until finally, chapter by chapter, I’ve said all that needs to be said. I may put my characters through any number of hair-raising scenarios, emotional tsunamis, or supernatural experiences.  It begs the question, “Are writers control freaks?” Do we get off on charting the course for our hapless characters? I’m not so sure.

Look, how many of us have total control over our own lives? I don’t know anyone who does. Shit happens, right? We don’t always choose the circumstances – sometimes they choose us. And in real life, we aren’t given the luxury to stand back and mold and define and refine the situation until it fits a perfect outcome. As much as we might like to be, we are not the authors of our own lives. If we were, wouldn’t we all write ourselves happy endings? I like fairytales and happily-ever-afters. 

I feel sometimes as though I’ve been dropped into someone’s work of fiction while they are the midst of a difficult re-write – no kidding. I look forward to ending some chapters, while others I may lament a while. I can only hope the ending will turn out in my favor, but there’s no guarantee since I’m not the one controlling the pen.


What’s your take? Do writers have a god complex? If you could write yourself into the pages of any book, which book would it be?  – Can’t wait to hear your answers to this…



16 responses »

  1. Wow, write myself into a book? With all of the conflict involved, I think I’d be scared to end up in someone’s work of fiction. If I could just go along for the ride, I’d pick a literary gem where I could immerse myself in another culture such as “Memoirs of a Geisha” or “A Fine Balance.” But I also read a lot of thrillers with serial killers. Not so sure I want to tag along for that ride…

    In his book “On Writing,” Stephen King likens a story to a fossil, meaning it’s a “found thing”, part of “an undiscovered pre-existing world.” The writer’s job is to get “as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.” I think this goes along with what you’re saying when you imply you’re not in control, and the story takes over. And I get what you’re saying. I’ve been there…

    • I was thinking “The Good Earth” simply as an observer. I’ll skip the serial killers and thrillers too! Love the idea of a story being like a fossil – very cool. Thanks for jumping in 🙂

      • If you haven’t read his book “On Writing”, I think you’d like it. But he’s challenging my way of thinking. I’ve always been an outliner. King says just the opposite. He feels outlining restricts where the story goes. He’s a total panster. And whether one likes his books or not, it’s hard to deny he’s a fantastic storyteller.

  2. Does re-editing a hunderd times a day count as being over obessive? Okay ,it is not that bad.
    I want it to be perfect and I keep tinkering with it, eventually I gotta let it go….

    • I know that feeling…I have to put my work aside for a while and then revisit it before editing. And sometimes show it to somebody else -get fresh eyes or I end up chasing my own tail… 🙂 Good luck!

  3. I feel sometimes as though I’ve been dropped into someone’s work of fiction while they are the midst of a difficult re-write – no kidding. i resonate with this so much!!!! i think the god complex is not a complex at all, because i believe we are each the living manifestation of god, and so it’s real. that’s just me. i would love to write myself into anais nin’s dairies, particularly from the late 1930’s paris. i would be a writer in her circle of friends.

      • doesn’t it? wish we could meet at a cafe with anais and henry miller tonight, and talk about our writing and ideas! 🙂

  4. I can’t imagine writing myself into a book. I’m me all day long, and it’s nice to take a break from that and immerse myself in a world in which I don’t live, surrounded by characters more interesting than myself, even though I’m damned fascinating (and modest, too 😉 )

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