Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dream On...


I dreamed about Blogging last night, so figured it was only fair if I Blogged about Dreaming this morning. All things said I am sort of a nut for Order... so far as writing is concerned anyway. I should probably explain that...

I had a New Foundations in Psychology Class during my Master's program that was the coolest class I EVER had, largely because it was a mind-bender. The GOAL of the class was to bring Psychology into the modern age of science and it went through original psychological theory, grounded in Biological sciences and came through brain chemistry advances and then pushed us to think about it in terms of Quantum Physics—like I said... mind bender. But it really got me thinking about PERSPECTIVE (the whole point/wave conundrum (what is it? Depends on how you're measuring—sound like something a WRITER might use?))... but I digress...

My POINT is that part of what we discussed was 'what defines life?' and the answer was 'Order and Symmetry'. Mammals are symmetrical—an eye on each side, opposing arms, legs, fingers... but something like a snail is also alive—the curving shell... that is also order...

So I suppose what I am saying, is I prefer books that are 'alive'--either symmetrical or looping in on themselves--orderly in some recognizable way... So there... foundation laid...


Dreams in Books

A group of my friends, all participating in NaNoWriMo, recently had a discussion. One wanted to include a dream, but she didn't want it clear from the beginning it was a dream, so how to write it...

The group of us, in our wisdom, felt italics are a dead giveaway so NOT to use them unless the reader was supposed to be able to tell. But even if readers aren't supposed to be able to tell—if they will find out (and if they won't, then that's a little odd, yes?), they will feel cheated or betrayed if it wasn't separated by a section marker, so they can think back and see where the trick began.

It seemed too, that a favorite technique was to have it start normal and then get stranger and stranger, as this seemed like what real dreams do... normal slice of life, then adding in things that just really don't go together. (in fact a 'dream world' like that would be a pretty good fantasy set up now that I see it). This was the kind of thing my friend was wanting... a reality getting weirder and weirder, and having THAT be what clued the reader in that it was a dream.

A couple of the discussants were adamant about not liking to be tricked (realistic scene of something that shouldn't happen, then starting awake)--It's a technique I don't mind, but have only ever used in a Round Robin where I felt the person before me had painted me into a corner I didn't want to be in. I found it interesting though, how strongly the people who felt cheated by this felt.

I've read books where dreams do both things and I've also read books where dreams are some (possibly unknown) desire or fear (in fact even if they are strange like that, they can still show these things).


But Why Dreams?

I think in a book dreams can serve a variety of purposes. The vast majority of the dreams I've WRITTEN have been in my Harry Potter fan fiction and I've most often used it as a tool for someone with some 'seeing ability'. I think though, even in mainstream, fantasy-free fiction, foreshadowing is a really nice use of them. In CONFLUENCE Hannah (my five-year-old) hears a story that causes some scary nightmares—they are directly caused by the story she's been told, but are foreshadowing too (the story teller knows more than he has let on).

I think that revealing of inner hopes or fears though, is an equally provocative use.


What about you? Are there times you like them? Times you hate them? Uses you condone or don't? Does anybody who KNOWS know of a limit? (how many dreams in a book is too many? I feel certain I've heard a rule, but don't know what it is.) Are there genres they can be used in and genres they can't (wouldn't seem to fit mystery too well, romance though—definitely)



And then there are real life Dreams...


PUBLISHED AUTHOR HART JOHNSON... *sighs *

I can't wait...


And Finally: Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the States. To the rest of you... it is still Naked Thursday and you have a reputation to live up to!

4 comments:

M.J. Nicholls said...

Interesting topic. I was dreaming about responding to this post last night.

Many books attempt to recreate the hazy sensuality of dreams, most notably "The White Hotel" and "Finnegans Wake" but in our prose I think it's important we signpost a dream sequence in advance.

Otherwise everyone gets cranky.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I agree with MJ's cranky comment. If I'm following along completely drawn in and then I realize the whole thing was a dream, I feel like I've been duped. But italics aren't cool. I think just some indication in the text that we're entering a dream sequence is good.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

cassandrajade said...

I don't mind dreams as long as they are character revealing and not too long (and as long as the resolution isn't that the entire story was a dream). Dreams actually allow for some interesting dialogues and sequences that sometimes just are not plausible in the story but are quite necessary to moving forward. That said if the book relies upon dream sequences there is probably something wrong with the plot.

Watery Tart said...

ooooh! A little dream hostility! Who knew? I always find it fascinating when people strongly hold view that hadn't really crossed my mind...

So point taken on giving a warning... I'm fascinated on your 'no italics' view Elizabeth. Maybe I read too much fan fiction and that is sort of a standard mechanism in that world.

Cassandra-I think I am in your camp... as long as they are necessary, I don't object at all and think they can add.