Modern day aspiring writers are told by most published writers, agents, and editors that an essential part of character development is cruelty.
CRUELTY? *GASP* Surely not!
What I call cruelty, "they" (the amorphous, ambiguous, harboring mal intent, they) call necessary.
What is cruelty? Cruelty is dangling what your character wants most and then snatching it away from them at the last second. Or continually throwing roadblocks in their way to achieve this desire. Or, imagining the very worst thing that could occur to your character and then amping it to the nth degree and torturing them with it. More to the point, authors must practice cruelty toward their protagonist in order to write a fantastic, compelling story. (Readers demand it, so I hear. Sure, go ahead and blame the innocent readers!)
Cruel, I say, most cruel.
Would God do this to His children?
Maybe. Doubtfully not the way we writers are encouraged to attend to our characters. A few writers may in fact wholeheartedly embrace this concept and gleefully cackle as they dash their characters again and again against the jagged cliffs of insane cruelty. All the name of 'character development.' (MWWHAAHAHAHA!)
But I imagine that many writers are like moi--I often morn with my characters and wrestle internally with them while they deal with the hard side of life. I feel sick to my stomach when they do. I laugh when they do. I think God is the same way. He is compassionate and Hebrews tells us that Jesus is a great high priest because he can identify with our weaknesses (sufferings). I think this is the kind of God we have.
I believe Him to be much more particular and merciful than any modern-day writers. While bad things happen, He usually shields most of us from the worst, whereas we foist it upon our beloved protagonists. He doesn't dangle and snatch away. He may ask us at times to wait or even sacrifice something, but it's often not the hugely dramatic thing we see our characters facing. I get tired as a Reader of wading through tragedy after tragedy. Sigh. Sometimes I just want things to work out and have my Happily Ever After. (Can you tell I don't write post-apocalyptic fantasies?) Granted, fiction is to some extent a hyperbole or exaggeration of real life. Real Life on steroids. Analogies are just that analogies. But would it be so bad if we occasionally took a cue from the Author of Life?
Here is one writer who is heartily glad that SHE is not God and that God is not a Modern Day Writer.
(...so she writes with merciless mirth as she moves on to look at her current WIP....)