The how and why behind writing fiction from the view of a young writer, Lydia Davis.
How I Come Up With My Ideas
To start, I just read lots of books. What happens is kind of like this: My mind is a cauldron, and when I read books, bits and pieces of the book go into the cauldron. When I have read a bunch of books, then the bits and pieces are stirred together and I get an outline of a story. Then, all that is left is filling in the blanks and writing it out. That is how I wrote a short story called The Time to Rise.
Another way is, I will play a pretend game and then write it down. So with some of my friends, I played a game and we played that game for two years. And for the game, we played it so much we made an entire world. And we know every last detail from back stories to where everything is located. And now we are starting to write it down. We call it The Legend of the Four Lords.
Also, if there is something you want to do but it’s not at all possible – write it. I have dreamed of being a spy. So, at age eight, I wrote a short story about me being a spy. And I based it off of my life and just tweaked it here and there, so that I am a spy.
You can kind of live through your writing. When I write and read, I imagine what is happening in my head. So, when I am writing, I don’t have to think too hard to describe things and what they look like. I just write down what I see in my mind’s eye. So when I wrote that story, I was not just writing about me being a spy; I was the spy.
What I Enjoy Most About Writing Fictional Stories
Anything can happen. There are no boundaries, no rules, just writing. You don’t have to follow the rules of reality. Because most often, fiction books break at least one rule of reality. Like dragons aren’t real; no one has super powers; the earth is round; no one is immortal and many others.
I don’t worry about science, because anything can happen. Someone’s toe could explode and then be put back together and stuck on their foot, and it seems like nothing ever happened to their toe. Unlike nonfiction, where you have stick to the facts and do research, for fiction, you just have to have an idea, just an inkling of what you want to write about. And also, you can set it down and then pick it up again later, right where you left off. In nonfiction, you have to remember the facts and stick to them. So I like the freedom that fiction brings to writing.
Lydia Davis is 12-years-old and lives in Minnesota. You can read her top reading recommendations here: Recommended Youth & Family Reads.