In a World


Fade in on desert sand that seems to go on forever. We follow a pair of footsteps made by someone running.

Voiceover: "In a world without ice cream..."

The camera stops short as the footsteps just end.

Sure, that's a silly trailer for a movie - or a trailer for a silly move - although I'm sure you've seen sillier ones.

One of the first decisions an author has to make is "what is the world this story lives in."

You'll have to make that decision no matter what you're writing. The thing we forget is that we get to make that same decision for ourselves in real life as well.

Last year when my daughter when to college I told her that this was a chance for her to reinvent herself.

Let me be clear - there was nothing about her that needed to be reinvented. I just wanted to stress that if she wanted to become a little more this or a little less that, there was noone there who had known her since kindergarten who could say "that's not like you at all."

Similarly, when she went back to school this year for her sophomore year I reminded her of that discussion and said that there may have been people who reinvented themselves the previous year who want to make some adjustments this year. She has to let them. And if she wants to make adjustments she can and should.

Each year I celebrate the high holidays by looking back at the previous year and thinking about what I want to change in the coming year.

Who do I want to be?

I'll still be recognizable, but there are adjustments I want to make. We make these adjustments all the time. This time of year I'm a bit more formal about them. I consider my goals and guiding principles and look at what I do to support them and what I do that gets in their way.

A couple of years ago I decided I wasn't taking enough time to spend with friends. I reconsidered last year and decided that that was one of the best changes I'd made recently and I recommitted to it. That stays on my list this year.

One of the coolest things we do as authors is make decisions about the world, characters, and direction of the things we write about. It turns out, we can make some of those same decisions about what we want to do to help improve the world around us, to cherish the characters that are part of our story, and to change how we will spend our time and direct our attention.

Voiceover: "In a world where you get to influence some small part of it ..."