I was watching a video where the owner of Murder By the Book in Houston interviewed authors Jasper Fforde and Matt Haig about their new books. Watch the video here. Something that Jasper said struck a chord with me and I've thought about it several times since seeing the video. He said he "sets a narrative dare" when drafting book plots. In other words, he challenges himself with a specific but not narrow concept. "Rabbits live amongst us. How?" was the example he shared that helped him get going on his newest book, "The Constant Rabbit."
The idea, Jasper said, is to set the narrative dare and then write our way out of it.
I love the idea of challenging ourselves such that we live a more creative life. And if you're a writer, the narrative dare might be something worth trying. Dares that offer some specificity but allow wide-ranging creative freedom work best.
The narrative dare for my current project could go something like this: Iguanas invade Galveston Island. How? The narrative dare for my first novel could've been: an octopus is charged with murder. How? And while I'd not heard of the narrative dare when I wrote "Toxic Octopus," that central idea fueled my interest in and commitment to fleshing out the story.
Here are a few narrative dares I just brainstormed:
- The end of lying. What happened?
- The planet is going to explode in one year. Explain.
- A pill melts fat away in one week. How?
- Placebos become the real thing. Why?
- Cell and Internet service is shut down by aliens.
- Existentialism sweeps the nation. How?
- Poisonous plants from all over the world meet and organize. Explain.
Might a narrative dare, or some other type of dare, help you create?