Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Using Dreams

I have noticed that some of the best stories come from dreams while some of my most boring conversations are listening to other people recount their dreams.

I hope that if I ever tell you one of my dreams, it'll be a one-liner and relevant to you: "I dreamed you were a CIA agent and your mission was to seduce Rani Mukerji." To the contrary, I've found that I'm seldom any more bored than when someone tells me something they dreamed that might be quite significant to them, but it is significant only to them. By keeping things short, I hope that if you are bored by my fevered ravings, you won't be bored for long.

The fact that I dreamed about you can be majorly creepy because it means you have invaded my subconscious and you might not appreciate the unwanted (subconscious) attention. Thus, if you were Rani Mukerji and if I had dreamed about you (I haven't.), I probably shouldn't say anything to you.

If you can relate to what I just said about dreams, what makes you think anybody wants to hear about your writing project?

Particularly, that hot chick or dude you made into the hero's love-interest who bears a creepy resemblance to the hot chick/dude you're talking to. I know a guy who who wrote all the attractive females in his writing group into his stories. Repressed sexual fantasies aside, most people need a more compelling reason to hear about your work-in-progress than the mere fact that you are writing it. World-building is a most enjoyable past-time, but sharing the details of your future-history with someone at a dinner party is a great way to not get invited back.

Talk about works in progress should be confined to strategy sessions with other authors wherein you trade hints and tips about how to get over tough plot points or other mechanical details of bringing a work to completion. If you're in the midst of such a session with another author and think, "what's WITH this guy?" you should do everything in your power to make sure he doesn't think the same about your work. I find it delightful to read conversations between authors advising each other on howto make the magic happen.

Of course, those conversations are more interesting when they are between writers you admire. You might be less enthralled by exchanges between unknowns.

There is a time and a season for you to shout from the rooftops, "Sir, or Madam, will you read my book. It took me years to write, will you take a look," but that comes after your work is at a mature state, or you have a reputation and a following. Until then, I suggest you only tease out the choicest details.

But I said that sometimes the best stories come from dreams. The modern mind doesn't quite know what to do with dreams. I am not one to interpret them, but I will try to mine them for story ideas. I don't try to write up my unconscious mind's jumbled narratives unrefined.

Instead I've had story elements occur in dreams that I adapt into stories. For interest, a dream of my High School (that you'd find boring) was distinguished by the appearance of a certain trouble shooter. He wasn't quite human, and he wasn't quite divine. I didn't understand this character, his motives, or his means of solving problems, but I thought this general impression would make a useful depiction of a "trans-human" character. Such would be dispatched by Serious Adults to Fix Something. That turned into my first novel, which is safely ensconced within a desk drawer.


I think that dreams are a treasure-trove of story-ideas and solutions to story-problems, but they are unruly beasts who need to be pointed in the right direction, and their content never taken at face-value.

1 comment:

  1. This was very useful for me to read. One of the best short stories I wrote as an assignment in college was taken from a dream. The trouble is trying to remember what you dream about!

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