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Dare to Be Bad!

Generating Ideas, Breaking Writers' Block, and WRITING!

What is "Dare To Be Bad"?

The Dare To Be Bad challenge began with Dean Wesley Smith and Nina Kiriki Hoffman when they lived in Moscow, Idaho in the 1980s. They lived in the same apartment building, and were continually challenging each other in various ways to kickstart writing projects. One day Nina found a poem that had this couplet:

"If we could dare to write as ill
As those whose voices haunt us still...."

She shared it with Dean, and somewhere along the line the DTBB challenges began. (They used to write five Christmas stories in six days, and publish them in a chapbook.) Later Nina continued the challenges in her topic on the Genie SFF Roundtable. Any interested writer could accept the challenge to write three stories in six days, and report daily (on Genie) on their progress. The day-by-day reports were an important part of the challenge, as people could compare notes, cheer each other on, and commiserate with one another. Dare To Be Bad was a big success, and several of the stories written for that online challenge were later sold (proving they weren't so bad after all!). Nina says she and Dean (and other DTBB writers) sold a lot of their DTBB stories.

I participated in several of the Genie DTBB challenges, and later adapted the challenge to be used by the CALLIHOO writer's group. We picked a six-day time period when most of us would actually have time to write (holiday weekends are good if no one's going out of town or having family in), and then reported on our success at the next meeting. Several times we also invited online participation (for folks on Genie or sff.net) in the challenge, so people not in CALLIHOO were part of the challenge as well.

So. . . . Dare to be BAD!

Goal: Write three stories in six days

Rules: You can (and probably should) make notes ahead of time, but do not start actual drafting until the challenge officially begins. Once you begin writing, don't stop to think--just write. Finish one story before starting the next. DO NOT edit or rewrite as you go (except really minor stuff)--you can do that once the challenge is over. If you're working on a novel, one chapter = one short story.

This is your chance to really let that old subconscious take over and see what comes out. Might be really, really, good. Might stink. Probably somewhere in between. But you won't know until you try!


But hold it, you say. How does this generate ideas or break writers' block? Well, I'm going to put some of my "idea generators" on this and linking pages. These are things I use to get the ideas to write the DTBB stories. Often I need "quick" ideas, since I don't have time for extensive research on a DTBB story. Maybe they'll help you, too. I consider these idea generators as giving me "seeds" to start the creaky writer's mind working. If I have three ideas generated before the challenge starts (or more, for in case I start a story and it doesn't go anywhere), it makes the act of drafting a story in a short period of time that much easier.

So pick one of these idea generators. Write down the idea it gives you. Then either build on that idea or generate an idea from one of the others and add the two together. It's amazing how the brain starts buzzing when you bump two really disparate ideas together and try to make them fit. (Here's an example of how I did it.)

Oblique Strategies | The 37 Dramatic Situations | Cosmic Thoughts
Random Science Fiction Story Ideas | Curses | Paragraphs

I've also generated several lists for writers to help them build characters. These are in the working stages, so if you have any additions, please E-mail them to me at julia.west.nospam@sff.net (remove the obvious to use the E-mail address).

SF Characters | SF Items | SF Descriptors | SF Places | SF Events
SF Jobs/Occupations | Fantasy Jobs/Occupations | Contemporary Jobs/Occupations
Random Emotions | Emotions List | Intensity of Feelings
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Last update 21 March 2002