1. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Different Font for Dreams?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TLK, Aug 3, 2013.

    So, simple question:

    My MC has a lot of dreams and I describe them as if you were there. From the way I write them though, I think it's fairly obvious that it's not "normal". But, should I use a different font to describe what's happening with dreams?

    It might help avoid confusion and I've read books where a different font was used for flashbacks and memories and that worked well.

    Thanks in advance :)
     
  2. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    I wouldn't use a different font--if anything, I'd employ italics, and even that's not really necessary.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It depends on the POV you are portraying the dreams through. If it's a full fledged scene(s) then you'd want to do it as a flashback. Make it clear you've left the story and when you come back to the story, and how you reveal it as a dream depends on what you are doing with these dreams in the story.

    Does the reader know it's a dream right away, or is that only revealed later?
    Is the dream sequence very short, or medium length and longer?

    What is the purpose of the dream in the story?

    There is not one way to answer your question without looking at a few specifics like the above questions.

    I suggest you just write it initially, see how you are going to go in and out of the dream sequence, what the purpose of the dream sequence is, and only when the piece is fully developed worry about font and punctuation. If you've already written the scene(s) then we need a tad more information to answer your question.
     
  4. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    I use visions and dreams in my writing, and yes, i do find italicizing said scenes as well as spacing them apart from the rest of the text helps. Any internal thought or speech during the dream/vision is left uninitialized to make it stand out. here's an example of a nightmare one of my chars had:
    -----
    His jaws parting briefly in a yawn that revealed a jagged set of canines, Batos began feeling his thoughts drift as he fell into a doze . . .

    The sky was tinged red and black, bleeding into the dark clouds as they hung suspended in a haze of smoke. Batos’s fur clung to his skin with sweat as he struggled through the murk around his legs, the stench of rotting flesh making him reel.
    Looking ahead, he spotted what appeared to be the shoreline of the shallow lake he stood in, and he clambered over the rocks as he sought dry land, but to no avail. The sound of bones cracked beneath his weight, and Batos realized he was not climbing over rocks, but skulls. He yelped in alarm, and slipped, falling into a pile of decimated bodies. All were human.

    “No! I did not do this! No!” he shouted, flailing and trying to get away from the darkness, the vile plague set about him as if in blame. “I did not kill you!”
    Suddenly, everything was rising up around him, suffocating him under the bones . . . blood . . . and the skies seemingly forever haunted by a fiery sunset that had gazed upon the wars of his kind . . . he felt the air in his lungs slowly being sucked away . . . leaving him weaker and weaker as his body continued to be crushed beneath the weight of bodies pressing down on him . . .

    “Wake up!”
    A savage kick in the side sent Batos sprawling into the wall, nearly collapsing the den and sending down a shower of snow clumps and bits of ice onto his head.
    “What-
    “Get up!” Bibindoe said harshly, and then he left.

    -----

    Forgive me for the long para, but it would not have made sense (at least to me) had i cut out anything else. Well, i hope this helps -i have had good feedback on this style so i figure it works well.
     
  5. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    TLK, if you've seen it in literature and thought it worked well, why not use different fonts then? Just choose a font that isn't particularly annoying to read (you might want to ask opinions on that). Of course when it comes to the final print, the publisher probably has the final word...

    Nalo Hopkinson separated the voice of some kind of a spirit from the human characters with bolded text in her novel The Salt Roads. It was basically the same font but in bold and appeared in the middle of "normal" text like this. Maybe she figured too much italics would be more difficult to read? (it is for me anyway, and I tend to skip large chunks of italics). Well, there were really short passages (as their own chapters) in italics too. If my memory serves me right they were passages from letters/diary entries.
     
  6. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My personal take is to hesitate in the use of fonts, italics and the like regarding the display of such things. As a writer, you should rely on your words to make things happen, make sense and flow, not typeset tricks. Of course there are all kinds of examples where authors do this, but I personally feel that a good rule to follow is to ask yourself if you can do without.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Use clear writing, not fontfoolery.
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    My own feeling here is that no rule is absolute in the world of writing. I'd say do whatever works best for your story. Many authors use italics for thoughts and dreams, and a few even mess around with the use of many fonts. (Terry Pratchett certainly does, and to great comic effect as well.)

    KaTrian brought up the issue that she skips large blocks of italics. It's true that large blocks of unbroken italics can irritate the eye, and I'd use that convention sparingly. However, italics can be incredibly useful as a writing tool, if not over-used.

    What I WOULD worry about is 'dreams.' If they are lucid dreams—in that something happens in them that can be followed like a scene—fair enough. Keitsumah's does that, at least what she's posted above. However, if dreams are vague, it's probably best not to go on and on, whether you use italics or not.

    Mind you, that's another convention that can be 'flung down and danced upon' by a good writer. So dig in and do what works!

    And remember, whatever it is, somebody isn't going to like it. As long as somebody else does, you're fine.
     
  9. Lisztomania
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    Lisztomania Member

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    What ever you want to do is good. After all it is your work, your creation.
     
  10. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    You shouldn't. You could easily let the reader know it was a dream by saying," In Aaron's first dream he was a pirate. He (describe dream). In his second dream he was a doctor. He (describe dream)."
     
  11. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Hi all, thanks for the replies.

    To answer some of your questions, the descriptions of the dreams range from 100-300 words in length. It tends to be broken up sentences, rather than long descriptive ones. I also describe it as if the reader was there at that time, so it's not like blackstar's example where I'm looking back on what happened in the dream.

    The purpose of the dreams is because the MC has some connection with the "higher powers" shall we say, in my story. These dreams are showing him snippets of his destiny, and what he has to do and stuff like that.

    Finally, I'd normally end the dream with a new paragraph and either just saying that the MC woke up, or with speech of someone saying the MC's name, or something like that.

    And here's a part of one of the dreams, so you can get a feel of what they're like.

     
  12. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I use regular font (Courier New) for my one dream scene.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    entire ms should be in the same font, if you're not self-publishing... and there's no need to change font or use italics for dream sequences... all you need do is let the reader know what's a dream and what isn't...

    putting large sections in italics for any reason is a major annoyance to many readers, as it's both intrusive and hard on the eyes... and sets many agents'/editors' eyes a-rolling, as it's often considered amateurish...
     

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