The Parliament House Press is full of amazing, creative writers, and we thought it would be fun (and important) to share their tips, tricks and secrets in how to be a writer! You don't have to be 'published' to be considered a successful writer. It all begins with the typing (or writing) of a single word.
Danielle Roux, author of the upcoming novel "Not Dead Yet," shares her tips on "The Origin of Stories." Take a look!
When I first get an idea to write something, I let it live inside my head. A few weeks, a few months, sometimes a year or more. I used to worry that if I wrote anything down of the idea, I would lose it. Now I worry that if I don’t write fast enough, someone else will use it before me. Because there can only be so many ideas in the world, and there are quite a few people who are able to have them. I’ve tried to force them into existence, ideas for stories. I’ve been inspired by places I’ve lived or visited and tried to force this inspiration to become more than just a vague feeling of interest. Like for the longest time I wanted to write about the secret societies at the University of Virginia. Because how creepy and southern gothic could you get? But I still don’t really know what a story about that idea would really look like yet.
I could try writing it. I could jump straight into a rough draft. I tend to write stream-of-consciousness when I am doing the part of writing that involves putting words on a page. Typing keys on a keyboard. Turning letters into words into sentences into meaning into story. I could get pages and pages into the thing before I stop and reflect, realizing that it’s not happening the way I want. The characters aren’t really formed, the plot is just stringing along, aimlessly. I haven’t captured the feeling that I wanted with the atmosphere, the mood, the diction. So, I will wait, put the whole thing back in my head and let it cook longer. Low and slow. Slow cooker writing.
Lately, the stories that I am writing are based on dreams. I have these epic, technicolor cinematic dreams. I am usually not there in the dream, I am watching, observing the people, the events, the world. Sometimes I am there, but I am not in my body. I am not myself. I am the main character or the secondary main character. I don’t always remember the entire dream, but enough of it that I can start to form something.
I wonder how other people get ideas. Do they just float fully-formed through the window into your brain? Do you have to dig under the surface of your consciousness to find them, like buried treasure? I wonder if ideas are a finite resource or if they replenish themselves. I’ve never been without them, but will I run out one day? And wake up alone without stories taking up space in my head? What would I think about while trying to fall asleep? I would be so bored without them. And lonely.
So maybe, let me keep another story inside just a little longer.