Danielle Dodge is a fourteen-year-old from Montana who loves writing and photography and also enjoys horse riding, ballet, and playing the violin.
How long have you been writing?
I think I wrote an absolutely terrible novella when I was in first grade. So around eight or nine years.
What kind of writing is your favourite (poetry, short stories, novels) and why?
Novels. Definitely novels. That might be because I get the chance to stick my characters in bad situations to make them grow and change and become better people. You just get more time with the characters in a novel versus, say, a short story. I feel slightly rushed when I write a short story, like I have to pack everything in to a certain word count. I always struggle with staying under a word count. And with novels you can add in plenty of subplots and it can take many more unexpected twists than you can with a shorter piece.
What do you love about writing?
The light bulb moments.
I love lots of other things about writing but I really love the moments when I’m struggling with some aspect of the plot that doesn’t make sense or needs something to happen and an idea lights up my mind. I know writing is only one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration, but those one percent moments are amazing.
I also love building relationships with characters, getting to know them and their struggles, why they do what they do, making them complicated like real humans.
Is there anything about writing that you particularly dislike?
When I find myself in a state of slight narcissism and think I’m a better writer than everybody else. I feel so stupid and prideful when that happens.
The best piece of advice someone ever gave you was –
Probably to put my butt in my desk chair and just write. That’s what I seem to hear a lot of the time. It doesn’t matter how I feel about writing or my story or what I’d rather be doing. I need to sit down at my computer and write. Don’t procrastinate.
What is your favourite writing quote?
Gaaah, I don’t know. I have so many! You want me to pick one? How about I write three?
“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great.” ~Les Brown
“Most people can start a short story or a novel. If you’re a writer, you can finish them.” ~Neil Gaiman
“Writers aren’t exactly people . . . they’re a whole bunch of people trying to be one person.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
Why did you start writing?
I honestly can’t remember. It might be because I loved to tell stories with plastic animal toys when I was little and when I got older, I guess the most natural thing to do was to put them on paper.
Is there a book or article or website that has been particularly helpful in your growth as a writer?
The writing curriculum One Year Adventure Novel. Without learning the craft of storytelling through that curriculum, I would be . . . I don’t want to know where I’d be. It teaches you story structure, how to plot and write a story over the course of one school year. It completely changed my writing.
I also learned a lot from Jeff Gerke’s The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction and reading the Writer’s Digest magazine.
If you had to give a beginning writer one piece of advice, what would it be?
I have two things to say depending on the writer’s personality. If they’re the overly confident ones, then I’d remind them that they’re not perfect yet and they need to allow themselves to take advice from older writers and critique-ers. Sometimes I go into a phase where I think I’m the best writer that ever lived, and then someone critiques part of my story and I’m like, “What?! This is the best thing to be written since Lord of the Rings, you unlearned bigot!” but that never helps me get better.
And if the writer is more shy and self-conscious, I’d want to remind them that what they have to say is important, that their stories might touch someone’s life, and they should never give up. As William Blake said, “There is no mistake so great as the mistake of not going on.” Ha! I got in another favourite quote!
(Keira's going to pop by next Friday and talk about why Lord of the Rings has been so influential in her writing, so if you liked this post be sure not to miss it!)