A while ago, I was watching an old episode of a television show that, while I find it entertaining, I don't take particularly seriously. I don't take it seriously, because, well, I find it rather ridiculous. I find it somewhat ridiculous, because the characters, whenever anything happens, tend to take the most outlandish or over the top response and run with it as fast and as far as they can before someone vaguely reasonable character turns around and makes them knock it off.
The show demonstrated this quality during the old episode when the Male Lead walked in on Female MC (with whom he's in love) and His Best Friend in a darkened room, alone, on a bed. When I saw this situation unfolding, I thought, "Wow, we're seeing the potential for High Drama. This could be really interesting. Interpersonal relations here could get much more complicated. Yay! ..... Wait, they're going to find a way to screw this up."
Instead of having an interesting reaction or having his relationships with either character change, nothing happened. The Male Lead went wacky for 30 seconds. Then it all shut down and went almost completely back to normal. No drama, just a few moments of the ridiculousness. I rolled my eyes.
What happened at that moment right before the Male Lead went wacky was the writers made a choice. They made the decision not to choose the highly dramatic route, or really, any dramatic route at all. They decided to go with the ridiculous. They decided.
At every point in the writing process, the author has to make a decision. Does the MC have a good relationship with this character? How does this character secretly feel about the MC? Should these characters turn left at this fork or right?
Every time a character makes a decision in the book, the author also made that decision to move the story forward. The choices the author makes should be moving the story forward, upping the stakes, increasing the tension. Writing is an active mental process where everything must be calculated to up the ante of the story.
The secret problem of having a lot of decisions to make is that you have to make these decisions, you have to keep your hand on the wheel, because if you stop making the choices, if you start flipping coins for your characters or guessing at what they should do next, then you surrender your control.
When you surrender your power to make the decisions of the story, you'll lose your control of the narrative. Characters will do random stuff that doesn't move the story forward, that doesn't make sense, or doesn't align with your actual intentions. That's bad. As writers, we're basically playing God in this universe, we need to be in control of it. We are the music makers, and we are the deciders.
How do you feel about decisions? Do you ever feel like your narratives are getting away from you? Do you make all of your decisions?