She had many good suggestions:
1) Construct an interesting world with which characters can interact.
2) Create that world right from the start. Don’t try to impose a setting after the fact merely to provide some color.
3) Weigh the pros and cons of using a real setting versus a fictional one.
That’s when it hit me—every author of fiction plays the role of god.
Okay, I know I’m not the first person ever to think of this, but this was the moment it really struck me as a writer. In my fictional kingdom I can create characters that do what I want them to do, be what I want them to be, think what I want them to think.
I decide if they live in a castle or a cardboard box, and whether it’s in Paris, France or Paris, Texas. I choose for them to fight bravely, overcome obstacles, and have dazzling epiphanies, or I cause them to act with malice, withdraw from society, and waste their quiet lives of desperation.
It’s power that doesn’t exist in any other field. Corporate executives may wield a great deal of power, but they can’t make their employees think a certain way. Monarchs may have absolute rule, but they can’t make someone fall in love with them. Teachers can assign students work, but they can’t make them do it. Your mother may withhold dessert if you don’t eat those brussel sprouts, but she can’t actually make you like vegetables.
But authors can. Authors can do anything they can imagine. Inside the world of the book, that is.
And then it dawns on me—in a fictional world that I create, I could even get my books published!