A new year again? Already?

The older you get the shorter years seem to be. When I was a kid, a year seemed to take forever. But then if you’re ten years old, a year is a tenth of your life. Now it’s only a 48th of my life, so maybe that’s the thing.

Whatever the reason 2012 seemed to just whiz right by.

Last year I went on a bit of a rant in my annual year-end/year-beginning post, ending with a promise not to do that again, so I won’t do that again. I won’t bother reporting on how I managed in my efforts to be healthier, more positive, and so on. What difference does that make?

2012 was a year of ups and downs, like any year. I did some good work, make some bad mistakes, was a lot busier than I was in 2011 (which is good) and in every significant way things are really looking up. That being said, what do I resolve to do in 2013?

All the same stuff: be healthier, clean the garage more often, live in the future, be positive, work harder. In short, keep up with what I’ve been doing for the last year or so.

But come on, I gotta have something new this year, some kind of publically-stated goal that you can all get together and cheer me on toward, right? If you make a public promise you’re more likely to follow through, aren’t you? Yeah, okay. Let’s do that.

Yesterday I wrote down a list of things in my little notebook. In no particular order:












Quite a list. Can I really do all that stuff?

Why not?

Looking at that list again it seems like some fairly no-nonsense stuff, all designed to make me a better, happier person.

I wonder . . . what’s the difference between a “resolution” and a “goal”? Something like LEARN TO PLAY THE GUITAR is more like a goal. It’s an achievable task. But something a little more open-ended, more difficult to describe or measure in concrete terms, like BE POSITIVE is more a resolution—I “resolve” to modify (or at least monitor) my behavior/reactions.

And oh, yeah, this is a blog about writing.

If I were a character in one of your stories, would you have written down a list like this for me? What are your hero’s New Years Resolutions? What are his or her goals? Have you written a similar list for your villain?

To some degree people can be defined by their ambitions, desires, and the degree to which they’re willing to work, sacrifice, struggle, or surrender in their pursuit of those ambitions. And not everyone—I daresay, not anyone—is so hyper-focused on one goal that he doesn’t have stuff like LEARN TO PLAY THE GUITAR on his list of goals and resolutions. If I were a villain, I might have USURP THE THRONE OF GOLIAN on my list, and that will start the story off, but it’s the rest of the list that will bring me to life.


—Philip Athans


About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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3 Responses to RESOLUTIONS, 2013

  1. abuzzinid says:

    I wrote the same list in a different order. Weird. Or not.

    Great reminder about bad guys. I already have a couple more ideas for my current one to make him more real, more reachable.

  2. Pingback: Goals are Good...In Moderation | My Writer's Cramp

  3. Pingback: THE SNAPPER, THE PUNCH LINE TO END 2016 | Fantasy Author's Handbook

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