Down yonder a reader writes concerning the absence of a much-needed equivalent to Han Solo in the current Star Wars films:
A lot of authors would say that there isn't one of "those figures" in the new films because there wasn't one of "those figures" around where they were being filmed. They might say their characters are not placed there by the author like ingredients in a soup, they simply portray the story as it exists in their head. Luke n' em' ran into Han at the point in time that they did, cause they did. Obi wan and Anakin didn't run into one of those, so we didn't see them do it.
They aren't made-to-order circumstances, and companies. So, perhaps they might be reasons that you don't enjoy them as much, but they would agrue that you can't really call them flaws in the story. I am sure there are some people who were annoyed by Han, and would even argue to Lucas that he was a distraction. To them he would also reply..." He annoyed the characters too, but I can't remove him. How could I? He was there!"
I appreciate the thought, and writers do sometimes talk about their characters controlling the story.
But . . .
I iz onenna them thar writer fellers.
An' I don' buy it.
Whether I'm doing fiction or non-fiction, I am fully in control of what I'm writing. Sure, sometimes one gets to a point in the writing where it just seems to "flow," without deliberate effort, but this happens (when it happens) after one starts the writing, not when one is pre-planning and deciding what elements need to go into the mix.
It isn't the case that a writer sees the whole story in his head and has to write it down. Stories almost invariably come into one's mind a piece at a time (in fact, agonizingly slowly), and one can and must control the mix of elements needed to make the story effective for the audience.
In fact, the ability to do this is an essential part of making the transition from an amateur writer to a professional writer. Amateurs are too wrapped up in their ideas to be willing to sacrifice them for the sake of the overall work, and their work suffers as a result. They also often feel so passionate about their material that they can't see what's working and what's not from a reader's point of view.
To get to the point of writing on a professional level (I don't mean publishing a few stories or articles here and there; I mean being able to place pieces consisently and frequently such that you can make a living at this) you have to get a feel for the reader's point of view (which is not the same as your own) and you have to be willing to control and shape the piece to what will work for the reader rather than simply wallowing in your own "artistic expression." Too many writers have gotten stuck at the "I am an artiste!" level and never gotten to the point of doing work that is actually . . . well . . . good.
It is true that writers sometimes talk about things "writing themselves," which just means that they had a very easy time writing a piece. They also sometimes speak of characters demanding to do or say things in a story, but what this means is that they have lived with a character for so long in their head that they have a very clear idea about what the character would do or say in a particular situation--or what would be really good for the character to do or say.
For example, in the fourth season of Babylon 5, Joe Straczynski had an episode ("The Long Night") in which the mad emperor Cartagia needed to be offed for the good of Centauri Prime. He originally planned to have Londo Mollari do it, which was the expected, predictable thing. Then when he came to write the scene he realized that it would be much better for Londo's timid, bumbling assistant Vir to accidentally kill Cartagia.
So that's what he wrote.
He later said that the character Vir stepped up and demanded to do this, but that is just a metaphor for having a sudden flash of inspiration about what would be the best use of character based on his long familiarity with the characters of Londo and Vir (who he had been writing for at least four to six years by this point).
This is a wholly different subject than should there be a Londo or a Vir in the story. How would dropping characters like these into the mix affect the show? How would it add to or take away from the mood and the dramatic possibilities of the story? Those are very different questions than what the characters do once you add them to the mix and write them for so long that you have an instinctive feel for what they would do.
So writers do--particularly with things like television shows and motion pictures--focus consciously on the mix of characters and how they combine to create an overall emotional experience for the audience.
The "My characters made me do it!" defense may work on the level of particular scenes written with long-established characters (including scenes that have plot points in them), but it doesn't go to the question of whether a writer lets a particular character into the story.
This would seem to be the case particularly for George Lucas, who makes movies like children working with PlayDough. He starts shaping a movie in a kind of loose way, then tweaks and pokes and prods it, adding material, snipping material, even coming up with new material in the editing process. An examination of the prehistory of his shooting scripts reveals that he dramatically changed both the characters and the story as he went along. He did not have the overall story worked out in his head from the beginning, and he is quite capable of making major changes if he thinks they are needed.
The difficulty is that he seemingly hasn't realized the mood problem created by the absence of a Han Solo equivalent.