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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dreams. Love em or Hate em?

I recently received a full critique from someone I just love (*wink* by this end of this post you will know who you are), and one note I got was— “Watch out how many dream sequences you use.”

Now, I was floored. I LOVE DREAM SEQUENCES! (If I could have made that sentence written in glitter for emphasis, I would have!) Dreams are some of my favorite things to write and read. It never once occurred to me they could be overdone (I know that sounds dumb as I write it. Anything can be overdone).


In my lovely critiquers defense, I think she’s right about two of them (I have 5 total. Each around 200 words). I’m so glad she pointed it out to me because now she has me thinking.

There is one main reason why I LOVE dreams. I feel like I’m pulling back a curtain and giving my reader a raw peak at my characters psyche. I really believe that deep down most of us know what’s right and wrong and how to solve our own problems. Sometimes a dream can give us a deep insight in to ourselves. Sometimes they are nonsense :)

But now I am freaking out! Is this wrong? Are dreams annoying? Will it keep me from getting an agent? Help! Weigh in! Give me your feedback!

-Angie

25 comments:

Cassie Mae said...

Oh Angie, I love you! I didn't mean to get your mind all in a jumble, lol.

To answer your questions... No, No, and NO! :)

What I wanted to point out was that too many dreams that don't move the story forward can drag the pacing. When the dream foreshadows something, or if the dream allows the character to move forward, then it's totally okay. Think about Harry Potter. That kid dreams more than any other, lol. Each dream connects the reader into something they didn't know before. However, if we dove into a dream every time a character fell asleep, unless that's a huge part of the plotline, there's a tendency for yawning. (no pun intended ;) )

Don't worry or fret over it. It's just something to keep in mind. :)

And my notes may have been infiltrated by frustrations with Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle. Because first episode they had coming back from the holiday break, both started with dreams that I thought were real, and when I found out they weren't I wanted to chuck the remote through the TV, lol. :)

Oh! And *wink* ;)

kmckendry said...

Rick Riordan uses a bunch of dreams in The Lost Hero. He uses them every couple of chapters to drop little clues and to foreshadow.
I think dreams can sometimes be confusing to the reader if you don't make it clear it is a dream.

Kyra Lennon said...

I love how you said that you can use dreams as a way to show the reader a deeper part of a character's personality! I don't think I have ever written a dream sequence in my life - but I may need to re-assess!

I think, as you said, it could be overdone. However, only you will know what works for you and your story. Go with your gut feeling, and you will be fine! :D

Melissa Sarno said...

In glitter! Sorry, I love that.

I'm into dream sequences. I think as long as they move the story along or give us insight into the character that we can't get *anywhere else* (that's important) I say go for it. What would happen if you took all of them or one of them or 3 of them out? Maybe it's worth the experiment. You can always put it back in.

Cherie Reich said...

I've heard that some agents don't like dream sequences because they are a) over done; b) not often done well; and c) don't move the action forward.

If they have a purpose, though, I think it is safe for you to keep them, or at least some of them.

Personally, I love dreams too. :)

RachelMaryBean said...

Hmm, I'm not sure. I suppose it depends on the way the dreams are done. (How's that for completely unhelpful?) Sorry. :)

ilima said...

I know starting the book off with a dream sequence is a big no-no. And I think it can be overdone. Writer Louise Plummer says every book should have at least one good dream sequence, though. I think I have two in my MS. I agree with Cassie, keep it if it helps to move the story forward.

Meredith said...

It's all subjective, I think. I like dream sequences as long as they're done well and move the story forward somehow, or let us get to know the character better. It really just depends, I guess. Sorry I can't give you a more helpful answer!

Leigh Covington said...

Like Meredith, it's all subjective. I enjoyed the dream sequences in your book. I can see why you used them and I like that approach. They may not be for everybody, but I find them entertaining. That said... yes - it can be overdone, but I still enjoy them.

Also - love your new pic in the sidebar! You're so stinking cute. Is it weird that I want glasses now?

Emily R. King said...

Sometimes dreams and flashbacks are the only way to get information to the reader about backstory and keep the reader interested. I think if they are necessary to the plot, keep them. If not, toss them out.

Sara said...

I don't use dream sequences, but I feel like that is more personal preference than anything else. I think it is because I find them hard to write/they don't really work with the voice of my main characters.

I had heard they were over done--I think it was mentioned at my writers group--but at the same time, I cant remember the last time I read something with one in it.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Hmmm. I don't necessarily love them but I think they can serve a purpose. I hope they're okay because in WIP #1 they are a part of the storyline.

*worries*

Kelley said...

I don't love or hate them. But I agree with Cassie. With anything in a book it has to move the story forward. If a dream sequence does that, awesome. If it doesn't maybe it's best dealt with in another way.

Brinda said...

I never have dream sequences in mine. I do have a plan to write a book with lots of dreams sequences, but it's integral to the storyline and the characters. Five, huh...

Jolene Perry said...

You are so funny.

I thought you did a great job with your dream sequences.

I've only done it once and I had a LOT more than five. They were SUPER short and played into the plot. But in everything I've written, that's the only book I used them in. Funny. I've never given in much thought before.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I think it depends on the story and the genre. I think the potential problem with dreams and dream sequences is that it can take readers out of the actual story and then they need time to re-orient themselves back in. The same is true with flashbacks. Also, if your character is dreaming, I'm assuming he or she is sleeping, and that's not all that exciting for a reader to read about usually. :)

Sara Bulla said...

Definitely a tool. I can see what your critiquer is talking about though. It could be seen as a crutch in the same way that beginning a book with a dream is overused - throwing us into a hidden corner of the MC's psychy only to pull us back to reality. I agree that it can be overdone - but I enjoy using them too.

Nick Wilford said...

I'm actually using dreams as quite an integral part of my WIP. My character is an amnesiac and his dreams are revealing parts of his memory to him, which he's trying to make sense of. I'm being careful not to overdo it, though - it's by no means the only plot device!

Gwen said...

I have no problem with dream sequences as long as they're down right. Meaning, they progress the story and aren't short. Short dreams just seem off to me, they don't quite capture the feeling a character is going through and the events of the dream. I love when they're done in that flowy, poetic manner that's full of details and surreal things, but yet contain hints or feelings about the real world. But I don't like going there too often. I'm interested in the story, and many times dream sequences don't quite fit. I mean, I don't really need to know the details of a nightmare, just tell me the character dreamed of her father's death again. And as far as the right number, I'd rather look at it in comparison to how many words the story has. Maybe 1 per 20K? But it really does depend on the book.

Ruth Josse said...

Well I guess everyone's already said it. Dreams are good if they move the plot along, but it's also a good idea to find different and unique ways to bring out information.

Personally, I like 'em. :)

Aldrea Alien said...

I've a couple of dream sequences in my stories (and a few nightmares, which were fun to do).
The story that really goes to town with them has three chapters of just dreaming, the first two are one after the other and are a sort of flashback dream, whereas the last is semi drug-induced.

Christine Rains said...

Dreams are fascinating, but unless they're key to the plot, they shouldn't be included.

Deana said...

Personally, I love dreams! Sadly, I guess since I have 0 agents in my life I wouldn't be the best person to tell you if they are good or not. I can't see how a couple would be all that bad:)

Tara Tyler said...

how much time does the mc spend asleep? one, maybe 2 dream seq, unless the story centers on it. oh the sacrifices we make =)

Anonymous said...

I use two prophetic dream sequences in my first novel. In the the first one the reader is able to understand that it's prophetic after finishing the novel. The second one helps the character realize that she needs a divorce. Both are short.

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