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This is gonna be long before I ask the question itself. Here is a quick overview of my plot:

In the fictional world named Slavaz, there is a great danger appearing, and God Creator of Slavaz appears to a young, simple shepherd and calls him to be his prophet and lead the races o Slavaz against this danger. Apart from him, there is also his older brother and they didn't saw one another in few years and they are on completely opposite sides of Slavaz. The older brother is one of the commanders in the war against this danger that is appearing, but he and his brother, the Prophet, don't meet one another until very late in the story. They are two main characters, but apart from them there are others who also have their POV chapters.

My problem is that the Prophet is...well, a Prophet, and he is helped by God himself, and no matter how much I make his path dangerous and deadly, no matter how many times I put him in deadly dangers, it will be obvious that he will survive and that the danger will be defeated in the end. There is a good idea I thought can little "redeem" this. I have the Prophet once thinking that God abandoned him and then he goes alone to the top of a great mountain and waits there to die until God speaks to him once again. They have a long conversation and the Prophet is in the end encouraged enough to go on in his mission.

Now, the Prophet's safety doesn't mean other characters are safe, but I still think that with this kind of plot it makes the Prophet and other characters less likable and relatable, since danger is obviously gonna be defeated, 'cause hey, God is on their side.

I always think of G. R. R. Martin who makes us think no one is safe in Westeros, yet still, Tolkien keeps his characters rather safe and they are still relatable and interesting.

So, my question is: how do I make the plot still interesting and characters, including the Prophet, interesting and relatable, without having to blot out God and the Prophet storyline, because they are a really important part of the story?

Thanks in advance!

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Here are two ideas that could help the situation:

They are NOT mutually exclusive!

1; Change your prophet's environment and situation

If you want to create a struggle for the prophet and make his journey less straight-forward and less predictable, surround him with people/a society that doesn't believe him.

  • Maybe they don't believe in 'that God'.
  • Maybe they don't see why HE should suddenly be chosen as a prophet by God.
  • Maybe the message he brings from God doesn't fit with their understanding of X...

2; Make the prophet an important 'side character' - take away his POV

A neat trick for creating tension, that could also make the story less predictable, is to make your prophet a non-pov-character - Hear me out:

I imagine you've spent a great deal of time creating and getting to know your characters - That time is never wasted! What we as writers sometimes miss, is that "knowing the truth" or "knowing too much" can take something away from the story - and make it more difficult to write... The more the audience can question and/or try to figure out, the more potential there is for curiosity, tension and drive in the story.

Perhaps the POV-character that we follow is the prophet's best friend (and they are both shepherds) and the POV-character's bother is still a commander in the war. His "main goal" becomes one of figuring out whether the prophet is true and then how to support his mission if he believes him.

Disadvantages;

  • You might have to change quite a bit about the parts that follow your prophet directly.
  • The challenge in the prophet's timeline becomes something slightly different; The question for the prophet storyline changes from "How do I convince X?" to "What would convince me?"
  • You would need an additional character in that storyline (which you might already have).

Advantages;

  • You don't have to write the 'conversations with God' but can simply refer to them. Same for any other God-act.
  • The reader is probably as skeptical as the surrounding characters.
  • Switching the "prophet POV-parts" to a person that is close to the prophet can make for a lot of interesting dialogue, that would contain more mystery, than if we were following the prophet himself.

This answer could apply to a number of different stories. Simply switch the 'prophet' with the 'character'.

I hope it works out, and good luck writing!

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    Huh, this is a very interesting advice. I don't think I will take POV from the Prophet, but try to make him more conflicted in his faith, as he is very importang and I want the reader (and myself) to know what is going on in his head. But when you said about changing his environment and about making a new POV or granting one existing character a POV...that is interesting. I think you have given me a good idea. About making the Prophet a non-POV, I am gonna think about that a little more, but thank you very much. – curious Apr 4 at 12:52
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    Maybe, I could make the Prophet a POV only later in the story, when he himself starts doubting his call and God, and up until that point, his best friend would be the one through whose eyes reader sees what the Prohet does. Thank you very much, this helped a lot!:) – curious Apr 4 at 12:54
  • You're very welcome! I hope it works out well for you :D – storbror Apr 4 at 13:52
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One option is to give your characters issues with each other that they have to figure out. In other words, give them interpersonal subplots. Don’t limit the conflict in your story to the main plot.

If you want your prophet to struggle outside of the main action conflict maybe have him sometimes struggle to trust his god or see how he will come through because he doesn’t know everything. E.g. while he’s on the move he has to stay with someone who gets on his nerves.

The same could go for the army commander. Since you are giving other characters beside the main two POV chapters, you could give those characters issues to work through as well. E.g. moral issues that effect their life and the people around them that they have to resolve (anger issues, pride, selfishness, etc.), or problems believing and trusting the prophet or the god.

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God might be omniscient and omnipotent, but the prophet isn't. Perhaps they can misunderstand the intentions of God, stray from the path, and potentially fail. And then God will try some other way? In this sense the prophet can have internal struggles and conflict - and conflict with other characters who suggest alternative interpretations. Perhaps the prophet starts to doubt the calling. And so on. Of course - this gives the reader the idea that the prophet might fail. Maybe in the end - for the full story arc, it seems that God knew what was going to happen, and it was all part of the plan. This, in a sense makes it more interesting because the reader starts to doubt that they understood God's plan in your story.

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    Thanks, I just have to ask: would it be lame if I make the Prophet too trusting in God after they have a conversation on the mountain and his faith is restored, or would it be better to still give him doubts in God? – curious Apr 4 at 7:47
  • @curious If you follow my answer, then the 'too trusting' would not be a problem at all, since the focus is slightly shifted! – storbror Apr 4 at 8:40
  • For the record, I am happy enough with the comment by storbror, but also would feel that if the prophet has a genuine for sure renewal in faith it should be as you reach the climax of the story. In a sense this whole thing starts to remind me of Small Gods, by Pratchett. Although in that case it was, in a sense, the god that had a boost in its faith in itself. – Ponder Stibbons Apr 5 at 11:32
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Conflict is Plot

If there is no conflict, there is no story. Drawing from history, conflict around a God's intervention could center on:

  • Interpretation - Different parties have different interpretations on the meaning of a message.
  • Disbelief - People are uncertain that the intervention is genuine. Many claim to have spoken to God. Most are mentally ill.
  • Challenge to Authority - Kind of a subset of Disbelief, but religious or secular leaders might feel threatened by a prophet, and seek retribution.

Limiting God's Power

Obviously, all these sources of conflict go out the window if God descends from on high in fiery glory and tells everyone to listen to his prophet. So limit God.

Many theologians argue that God's desire for human agency places a kind of limit on his power. He can do anything he wants, but he wants most for us to come to the right decisions without being told outright. To have free will, and to still be good.

You don't need to necessarily have to make this limit explicit. Just make God's interventions as subtle and possible, so they leave room for doubt - both on behalf of the prophet and on those they interact with.

Different Conflicts for Different People

The best stories have different conflicts at different places and times. Different people want different things, and those wants can change.

For example - Perhaps initially, other characters believe in the intervention, while the prophet is unsure. (they're just a lowly [whatever]!) Over time, the prophet comes to believe, but a sustained campaign on behalf of the local religious authorities has eroded the prophets base of support. Can the prophet regain the trust of the masses in time to avert the problem?

That story has internal conflict and external conflict, and the resolution of one impacts the other. Sources of conflict change, and the resolution is always in question.

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  • These are good advices, especially that about making others think the Prophet is mentally-ill. To make some people say to him. "You are mad!" That is actually what happened even to real ones. People thought that prophets Elijah amd Amos from the Old Testament were mad and no one listened to them, and the people also thought that Jesus Christ was mad and demon-possesed. Thank you for help, codeMonkey!:) – curious Apr 5 at 16:46
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Can you make your God Creator request something that the Prophet considers to be totally against the god's own rules? In the Mahabharata, Krishna, the god of compassion, tenderness and love uses advises Arjuna to break every moral rule to win a battle.

Your prophet could fear that following the path he has been given will cost him the beauty of his soul... Is that the sacrifice his god is asking from him, or is there a way for him to follow the letter of his god's instructions and retain his righteousness?

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  • Well, God Creator of Slavaz is a very moral god, he is called Father by all races of the world, so that is not very possible. – curious Apr 5 at 16:56
  • Why is a god moral? A god's teachings are normally moral (sometimes the definition of morality), but the god's actions are usually different. – NomadMaker Apr 5 at 20:43
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You Can't Tell This Story Well

Or rather you can't tell this story well FOCUSING ON THIS CONFLICT. The nature of a conflict is that there is a problem that the readers do not know the solution to. Here you are suggesting dangers to your Prophet's life and, as you stated, God can solve them. However, that God can solve these conflicts is not your issue. Your issue is that the readers know this.

Making The Readers Stop Believing in God's Protection

It seems this is what you are trying to do. And it can be done. Not easily mind you, since the nature of a God in fiction is usually that of a Deus ex Machina, but it can be done. The two main ways to end belief in God's protection are: God Can't and God Won't. It seems like the nature of your story is such that God Can't is more or less ruled out. It will almost certainly seem that way to your readers, unless you push the scale way up and leave God fighting Other-Less-Chill God, which might well make your actual characters feel irrelevant. So that leaves God Won't. This one might feel even harder to make your readers believe. And when it comes to the Prophets life they will probably be correct. Unless God is particularly capricious the Prophet is safe. Those they care about are not. They may well feel damned by the author in fact. But God will not necessarily protect them. If your Prophet is plagued by nightmares of all their friends meeting horrible ends then the Prophet themself will suffer. Even if against all odds some of his friends survive. And so we realise that the most stress for the Prophet, and the most suspense for the reader, comes from other people. But not that they WILL die. That the COULD.

And while we are at it the Prophet survives. Of course. Every reader will see this. But if the Prophet loses a hand? He still suffers, for sure, and suddenly he and the readers come to the same horrifying conclusion, that God needs him alive, but not necessarily well. And once the Prophet is done, if he is not loyal enough to God, if he is not charismatic enough for the people, what then? Perhaps he will be replaced. And it might just be that for all Gods promises the Prophet and the reader just can't shake this fear that the Prophets time is coming to and end.

So, whilst you probably can't persuade your readers that God can't save the Prophets life, you probably can convince them that God won't or might not help the Prophet or his friends come out happy and well. Especially the friends.

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  • To make the Prophet's friends in danger and kill some of them and make sone harm to the Prophet himself is a pretty good idea, I don't know how tp thank you. In the Lord of the Rings, though we are aware that Frpdo will probably survive, it is not boring to watch his struggles with the One Ring. I could also make the Prophet doubt God and explore for myself and readers what is going on in his head. Thanks a lot, MegaCrow!:) – curious Apr 5 at 16:54

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