Author Ben Marcus, in his Daily Theme, prompts writers to ignore timeless literary advice and break the rules: he instructs us to write what we don’t know. And it seems he’s taken his own advice. In his latest novel, The Flame Alphabet, the sound of children’s voices suddenly becomes toxic to adults–parents are forced to decide between abandoning their families or losing their lives. At least, we hope that Ben isn’t writing about his own experiences with that one–sounds pretty bleak.
Though writing teachers since time immemorial have counseled students to write about their own lives, there can be something breathtakingly exhilarating about making it up as you go along. Fiction is, after all, the realm of invention. So, with this challenge, unleash yourself from the shackles of the mundane and try writing about something that’s completely foreign to you.
Figment Daily Theme–March 22, 2012
In writing classes, we are often told to write what we know. But sometimes it’s more interesting to break the rules. So let’s turn this one inside out. For an interesting change, write what you DON’T know. Try to sound like a convincing expert on some topic that you know nothing about: the solar system, marriage, bread baking, the hiking trails of the Adirondacks. How convincing can you be?
For a bonus challenge, write what you DON’T know about something that is also UNTRUE. Tell convincing lies and strive to be believed. Write a fake history about how America was discovered. Argue that the earth is flat, that men and women are biologically the same. See how much language can make us sound convincing even when what we are saying is untrue. Good luck.
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