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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Writing About: A Character's Dream + Contest Winner

Last week, I opened a fun contest, challenging all of you to re-imagine the sentence: "It was a dark and stormy night." The winner would get a free PDF copy of one of my eBooks (Hurricane Crimes or 30 Seconds). I got so many wonderful responses, making it hard to choose. Now I know I'd never be a good short story or essay judge because I'd want to give everyone the prize. Haha! But I had to choose and the winner is....


Her sentence just made all of my senses tingle and I loved her word choices. 

Here is her entry:

“A jarring thunderclap followed by fierce lightning bolts split the night, and the dry land succumbed to the deluge that followed.”

Congratulations, Michelle! I'll be emailing you soon. :)

And thank you to everyone who participated!!

***

I once blogged about a "rule" that said to never write about a character's dream. Well, I have included my characters’ dreams in my stories. In 30 Seconds, I actually wrote in two short dream sequences. The first dream is a replay of something that happens in the story and my heroine, Dani Hart, has a nightmare about what could’ve happened instead. The second dream is a flashback on a pivotal moment from her past that comes into play in the story. I don’t regret adding them.


If you’re considering adding a character’s dream to your story:

1.    Make sure there is a purpose for it. You can’t just add a nightmare to spice things up. And although we make our stories as real as possible, random dreams, like the ones we can have at night, have no place in our stories.

2.    Write the dream as you would write any other scene. You may not be able to use all the senses, but you can still make it descriptive and exciting.

3.    If the dream is a nightmare, utilize horror and suspense. And tie it into the plot. For example: if your character is being stalked by someone, he/she can have a frightening dream about that person.


4.    If the dream is a sex dream, make it as steamy as a real sex scene. This could be something fun to add to a romance or erotica book before your characters do the deed.


5.    Clearly state that the dream is a dream. You don’t want to confuse your readers, so just before you begin the dream scene, you can make it obvious by showing your character in bed, tossing and turning. It’s also best to italicize the whole dream sequence to make it stand out.
TIP: The only thing I would advise against is making the whole story a dream. That is usually frowned upon.

QUESTIONS: 

Readers: Do you like books that include characters’ dreams?
Writers: Have you written a dream into one of your stories? 


28 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Michelle!
    I've never used a dream sequence in any of my stories.

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    1. Maybe you should...a dream sequence for a space opera would be neat. ;)

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  2. I don't think I've used a dream sequence in anything yet. But you never know. Michelle had an awesome line indeed

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    1. Never say never when it comes to writing, right? ;)

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  3. Congrats to Michelle.

    I used dreams a lot in my earlier writing, but don't use it as much anymore. Also, the scenes are brief.

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    1. Brief dreams, or maybe up to a few pages, is the best. A whole chapter would be too much.

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  4. I think adding a dream to a character's experience can be really effective. It can show their anxiety or fear of something that is central to the plot. Besides, writing dreams is fun. I write a dream journal and it's a great exercise in creative writing. Great topic, Chrys.

    p.s. Michelle's dark and stormy night is awesome!

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    1. I can't agree more, Lisa! I jot down my dreams if I get a really good one, especially if it can be made into a story. ;)

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  5. Dreams are so tricky because they're overused. I've come to the point where I chop them entirely. If they bear pertinence, they can be mentioned or remembered briefly during waking hours. I always advise people to pull back on dreams.

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

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    1. Yes, they can be, but I still think they hold some magic. For 30 Seconds, I don't regret the dream sequences I added. I think they add to the story and to my heroine, making her feel more real.

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  6. I use nightmares and dreams sometimes in my writing. One of my fairly recent dream sequences comes near the end of my second Russian historical, as my character Ivan has a nightmare they're still in Russia and that the OGPU (one of the predecessors of the KGB) broke into his house. They kill all his blood children and begin raping his wife and stepdaughter, and his wife orders him to shoot them to end this torture. He wakes up screaming hysterically just before he can pull the trigger, and finally realizes what a mess he's made of his family's life over the last six years.

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    1. Gosh! That's tragic. Your stories sure are something, Carrie-Anne.

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  7. I used a dream scene in the fourth book of my series. I didn't state that it was a dream up front though, but when my husband read it, he said it was easy to note it was a dream as it progressed. (The character also talked in his sleep, which was more important than the dream itself, as it complicated things.)

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  8. Congrats Michelle. most enjoyable post and helpful into the bargain.

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  9. Congrats to Michelle!

    I've written a few dreams, but not many. I like to use them sparingly. Great tips!

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    1. I like to use them sparingly, too, but I won't completely mark them off as an option to add to my stories if they are necessary.

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  10. congrats to Michelle! And I never had a problem with any book where a character is dreaming, or even starting a story waking up (a lot of times I read "never do this" for dreams or waking up but I fully believe it can actually be fine if done well! Though I can't say I ever wrote a dream scene myself, I'd never rule it out. Great tips! :)

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    1. I think starting a book with a character waking up is fine...it's where the character wakes up right at the end, announcing the whole book as a dream that is frowned upon the most.

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  11. Congratulations to Michelle for her evocative turn of phrase. Thanks for the tips about dreams!

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  12. Congratulations to Michelle. Fabulous reworking. And I love it when rules are broken. I like reading about dreams in novels, but as you say, there needs to be a purpose. Thanks.

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    1. I like it when rules are broken, too. ;)

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  13. I think dreams are easily overdone - especially when they seem to just be an excuse to add something (such as sex or danger) which isn't really part of the story.

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    1. They can be overdone, unless they are done right...with a purpose. A sex dream just for the sake of a sex dream is very unnecessary. But a little dream to build anticipation for a romance/erotic would be nice. And danger should reside outside of a dream, not in one.

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  14. Thank you for tha advice. Chrys you are my go to guide person when I have writers block, I can't thank you enough for breaking down simple/difficult situations or scenarios. All my questions I have as a young writer who hasn't been published yet your website has given me the tools I need to complete my book and further more write like nobody's watching.

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    1. I'm so glad you find my blog useful, Porsche! That was my biggest hope when I started it. You're welcome, and thank you for the comment!

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