From Sarah, With Joy

Writer querying two novels and some other word babies. I tend to effervesce.

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Writing and Dreams: what's your craziest one?

[photo credit]


We've all heard the story from Stephanie Meyer: 'I had a dream about a girl in a field with a sparkly boy who loved her but also wanted to kill her so I wrote it down and the next thing I knew I was a famous millionaire best selling writer with a movie contract and a mob of thirteen year old girls at my feet.'

What are your thoughts on that? Ok, so I'm being a bit facetious, but I mean about the whole dream to novel thing? Has something like that ever happened for you, if on a smaller scale?

I can't say I've ever written a story based on a dream I've had. I wish I was better at remembering my dreams. I dream a lot, but remember it for only a few seconds in the morning unless I remember to write it down, which I'm usually too tired to do. Then every once in a while I'll have stunningly vivid dreams that I can't shake off for the whole next day. Sorry, rambling a bit, but I find dreams fascinating. What kind of dreamer are you?

Here's what I find writerly valuable about dreams--I've never actually been sliced in half in a school gym by a sword-fighting wolf; or driven through the Grand Canyon in a covered wagon being pulled by a pig; or been jumped in a dark alley by a group of scruffy, creepy men (yeah, that one was petrifying and horrifically real)--But, because of dreams, I have a better understanding of terror, the bizarre, and what it would be like to have my family turn into zombies. Dreams expand our emotional experience in a very real way, and that definitely translates into our writing.

What do you think about dreams and writing? And I'm very curious--what is the most bizarre, terrifying, or memorable dream you've ever had?

Sarah Allen

16 comments:

  1. I LOVE dreams! I usually dream a lot and I almost always remember the whole dream for hours afterwards.

    Several of my novels have come from dreams, and several characters from dreams have shown up in novels. I think dreams (if you have them/remember them) are great tools for a writer.

    As for most bizarre/terrifying/memorable dreams, there are two that I used to have over and over again, as a child and still do on occasion.

    In the first one I'm in the middle of this vast forest of tall straight trees, with little ground cover between them, so just leaf litter. In the center of the forest is a very old stone well, with a high roof covering it which is held up by four rough-hewn posts. Balanced on the raised stone wall of the well is our 1980 midnight blue Chevy Malibu station wagon. It's balanced perfectly like a see-saw, not nosing into the well, but not flipping backwards either. In the dream I don't know how we got there, but I do know that my dad, my twin sister and I were in the car and left it, wandering out into the forest. Now I've circled back and found the car again, but my dad and sister are nowhere to be seen. This doesn't upset me for some reason (I'm about 8 in the dream) and the dream ends with me realizing it's a dream and I've had it before.

    Dream two is different in as much that in it I'm older maybe a teenager. I'm in the woods and have been for so long that I can't remember anything else. I'm barefoot and feral and happy. There are wolves which live there too, but it's not like 'girl who runs with wolves' or anything. We just coexist. In the dream someone is coming to take me away, to 'rescue' me and I don't want to go but even though I've made that clear, they don't think I know what's best for me. I run from the 'rescuers' run until I can't run anymore, and collapse. The wolves find me and sit in a semicircle watching and listening while I cry and tell them that I never want to leave the forest. Then they eat me, so that no one can ever take me away, and I'm happy. I never lose my awareness, even as I'm devoured. Instead, my sensations just grow until I'm in the wolves and the trees and this one random turtle which is watching everything from a moss hill some distance away.

    Both dreams are totally strange but I LOVE them.

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  2. One of the few dreams I've had that would make an interesting scene in a book would be me, my mother, and my grandma fighting a bunch of bad guys in a shopping mall with flamethrowers. Because who doesn't battle with flamethrowers in public places? Funnily enough the stores were empty, almost as if something drove the people away.

    Other than that it's all chase and/or flying dreams so I feel fairly certain I could convey that sense of anxiety that holy crap the bad guys are gonna get me or I'm going to forget how to fly and fall out of the sky. But writing a whole novel based on a dream? Not likely, or I'd have to really expand outwards from the dream to get any sense of plot.

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  3. Too funny, I JUST posted about this! And just had a strange dream last night. I've started a few stories from dreams, but usually I just write them down for myself to look back on.

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  4. I used to have all these dreams about people who were going to kill me -- this one time, I was on a hill by the clubhouse with this guy, and there were empty graves everywhere and he had a pot of coffee he was going to kill me with.

    So I'm not too upset I don't remember my dreams much anymore.

    Except the one time that I dreamed of hugging a man (he appeared in exquisite detail except for a blurry face) -- and just realized that my SO looks exactly like this guy. Premonition...?

    But no, haven't written about my dreams. Most people are creeped out by them. Maybe if I wanted to do thrillers or horror.

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  5. It is so funny you mentioned this! First, regarding having dreams in stories...I had a scene from a dream that inspired a short story (very very bizarre -- it involved huge stacks of paper and spiders dropping from the ceiling.) But the story evolved and soon the scene that inspired the story had to be cut out entirely!

    Another dream I had...I made into a YouTube video! It's called "In A Dream." And the dream impacted me so much that well I had to do something with it (if you are interested, check out my blog! It should be at the bottom of the page!)

    Overall though, dreams can be inspiring! Especially urge people's! ;)

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  6. My dreams are related to my family, alive and dead. Or to teaching. Unfortunately, there are no dreams which would make a good book.

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  7. Well, last night I dreamed my husband was cheating on me with two prostitutes I found in the closet. I think one of them was Kim Kardashian.

    That was pretty terrifying.

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  8. Dreams can really spur writing. Not sure any have specifically made their way into my novels though. The feelings of fear and helplessness, yes. I've heard Lisa J. Smith, who writes paranormal type YA, says she can't wait to dream nightmares, and writes them all down and uses them in her books. :)

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  9. I love dreams because for me they are mini adventures. I used to write them all down. They were great inspiration.

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  10. This is a weird one, for sure....I dreamed I attended my ex-boyfriend's wedding, except that it took place on a pirate ship, gangplank and all. Everyone was in period costume, but I'm not sure if it was a theme wedding or if we were actually in the 18th century. I was some tragic, veiled figure sitting in the back watching him marry someone else. Everyone whispered, wondering how I dared show my face and whether I was crying beneath my veil. At some point during the reception, he came over to talk to me and said it should have been me. I remember waking up escastic, thinking it had actually happened and that I still had a chance with him. A few minutes later, when I realized it was a dream, it was like being dumped all over again.

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  11. There are times I'll write something on my blog and make a story out of dream I had the night before.

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  12. I think I used to dream before I exhausted myself so much that I can barely cover myself with a blanket before conking out.

    So yeah.

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  13. The most memorable one that I had was what inspired me to write the current book I'm shopping around.

    The dream was about a woman who was in debt to a loan shark and the only way that she could raise money was to go into adult movies.

    The dream was so real and so vivid that within an hour of waking up, I started hacking away on the computer.

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  14. I had a psych class long ago where we kept dream diaries. It helped me remember dreams and I've always kept a writing pad by my bed since. If I'm at a story snag I try to think about it as I drift off. Once and awhile my subconscious rewards me with a problem solved in my dreams. Not something I can always count on though. Drat!

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  15. I don't think I've ever had an entire story inspired by a dream, but I've definitely had scenes inspired by a dream.

    Nowadays I don't really remember my dreams unless I sleep in, and when I do dream I can remember them for a minute or two before I forget everything that happened. The feeling generated by it can last a while, though.

    The dream that's probably helped me the most in my writing was a dream I've had a couple of times. It's dark, a tunnel or something, and I'm holding a guy's hand. I don't know who he is, just that I care about him very deeply. Not in a family kind of way, either. We're running from something, something horrible, and it's right behind us. I'm leading him and pulling him along, but no matter how fast we run we can't lose the thing chasing us.

    Another one, to make it short, was my best friend killed my dad so I killed my best friend.

    The dreams help me with my writing because I've never been truly terrified for my life or for someone else's, nor have I lost anyone really close to me before. I'm also young and I've never been in love. So those dreams gave me the feeling of being those things.

    Dreams and writing can be mixed, but carefully. I've written so much I've dreamt about my characters a couple of times in the past. It was... interesting, to say the least.

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