There’s a bit of a god complex that I think every writer gets when we start writing. We have the power to create (fictional) life! Then we get to decide whether it gets to stay alive or not. While I was sketching out a story I actually caught myself thinking that I needed to kill a character that didn’t exist yet; which is to say that I needed to create a character with the primary purpose of killing them. The next question is why is anyone going to care if I kill this person or not, so of course this helped me with character development, but still, it’s a pretty odd line of thinking, right? For every new character I created, I wondered at some point ‘is this a person I’m going to kill?’ Then I tried to reassure myself that I’m not a crazy homicidal person, generally speaking.
For someone who has trouble keeping track of matching socks and making my excel spreadsheets upload into a database, there’s a lot of satisfaction in creating countries. Mountains, rivers, cities, and forests all arrange themselves at my choice. And when I change my mind and move a mountain, it moves. One stroke of a pen, or one keystroke—done! Political systems and religions come next for me and fantasy worlds, and here again the addictive feeling of total control kicks into gear. Do I want to create a dictatorship? A monarchy? Do I want to let my characters experiment with democracy? What kind of gods would they have? What role do women have? What’s the history of the setting? What do they trade? How cruel of a creator do I want to be for my characters in the setting I give them?
So many decisions to be made, before you even get to page 1!