We have all gotten upset with an author for killing off the main character, but as writers, we know the author has a more difficult time doing the deed than the reader has reading about it. The author, as the creator of that character, is more invested in their well-being than any outsider ever could be.
In one of my books, The Enchanted Garden, the Christ figure is a great golden eagle. In the original version of the story, the eagle’s life was in grave danger, but he didn’t die. I woke up one night, long past the date for revisions, with a terrible thought. The story is all wrong! The eagle has to die. I can’t go 90% of the way and then skip the unpleasant part. Not only does he have to die, but as the author, I have to kill him.
Killing the eagle was so hard to do. Even though I knew the happy end of the story, I cried. It hurt. I sat with the page forever, trying to find any other way to tell the story without doing the deed. Even worse, I had to decide how it would happen. It couldn’t be a peaceful death, but tragic. As I typed the words, the tears flowed, and I hated myself for killing the eagle.
“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2: 7, NIV
“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” Matthews 16:21, NASB
Matthew 16:21, NASB
And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” 2 Corinthians 5:15, NASB
In writing, we often get to “play God” in creating and destroying imaginary worlds. We lay out the lives of characters and determine their plots. But any fiction writer knows that the characters are unruly. They take on ideas of their own, and unexpectedly change the outcome of the story even while we try to write them into submission to our will.
It was this exact rogue behavior in us as God’s creation that destroyed the perfect world that He spoke into existence for us in the garden of Eden. We tend to think that God had a perfect story in mind, but we disrupted it. Instead, the Bible teaches in Revelation 13:8 that Christ’s sacrifice was the plan from before the foundation of the world.
Before God formed man from dust, He knew that we would choose sin and we would betray Him. He would have to die, and we would be the ones to kill Him. But still, God took up the handful of dust and breathed life into us because He is a Creator and longed to create.
Often I will write backwards in a plot, knowing where the story ends, and working my way backward to figure out what happened for the characters to end up there. When we read the Easter story in modern times, we see it the same way. We know that Jesus is alive in heaven at the right hand of the Father, so we aren’t as impacted by His death, knowing that somehow, some way, He was able to conquer it. We gloss over the tragedy of it, the unexpectedness of loss and grief that his disciples experienced. We fail to sit with the story in its incompleteness and let the darkness of separation from Christ break our unveiled hearts.
When the characters in my story see the eagle come back to life, they run to embrace Him in joy and relief. We must never forget the deep relief, gratitude, and joy over the fact that Jesus is alive. Made in His image, we have His same creative power flowing in our veins. He calls us to create, to use our words to unveil His incredible story one layer at a time, to bring order from chaos with each stroke of pen on paper. We will tell beautiful and tragic stories, but we will rejoice in the telling, knowing that there is victory in the end.
Jesus, thank you for starting this story, even though you knew everything involved. Thank you for creating me, loving me, and giving me a new life. Use my creativity and words to share your character and kingdom with others.
How do my stories reflect Jesus’ story? Are my words His message?
Erin Greneaux last blogged about a lesson she learned from her daughter. She is an award-winning author of five books and mom to three girls who make every day an adventure. She loves working in the garden, and finds her best inspiration while digging in the dirt. Erin has worked in children’s ministry, missions, education in at-risk communities, and curriculum development. Erin is passionate about exploring the practical application of faith in everyday life. She uses writing to take Biblical ideas and present them in a way that is clear, creative, and captivating. Her published works include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and even a game!
Read her weekly devotion series, Sunday God Meets Monday Mom, at https://eringreneaux.substack.com/
Find her books and projects at https://www.greneauxgardens.com