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Do Dreams Turn You Off After a While?

Poll closed Apr 17, 2011.
  1. Yes

    5 vote(s)
    25.0%
  2. No

    6 vote(s)
    30.0%
  3. I don't think they're good or bad.

    10 vote(s)
    50.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Does a Character that Dreams...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Taylee91, Mar 28, 2011.

    Turn you off? Would it get a bit boring after a while and in your mind, be insignificant?

    I'm thinking of adding into my story a few parts where one of my main characters dreams. They aren't that important to the story but just, on a subconscious level, reveal more about his own personal fears and insecurities.
     
  2. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    No, it wouldn't bother me as long as it's adding something to the story and what I know about the character.
     
  3. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Hmm...that's good. I mean, my character doesn't like to -- well he can't really talk about his feelings or fears. He's a guy. He thinks he should be tough. Maybe having him dream would be a way to reveal another level of him that my other character doesn't see.

    Thanks for the vote, Trish :)
     
  4. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends entirely on the story and the quality of the dreams - and the length they're described for. My main character mentions dreams several times, but never more than "I dreamed of [say] eating loads of cheese and woke up confused because I never ate cheese any more". Over-blown epic dreams are fun to dream, but unless the book follows dream narratives as closely as those of the story, and they have real significance, don't harp on them, don't devote more time to them than you have to. As you're doing them for character building and emotion, you need to A: show a visible effect of them on the rest of the story, to justify their presence, then B: look at the nifty way you expressed his softening emotions out in the real world, and cut the dreams so that character building stands on its own. :p They are psychological scaffolding, not the bricks by which you build the character.
     
  5. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    I can't really answer the poll for one reason and that's because it is neither a yes or a no and I can think they are either good or bad. It all depends on the context. If you are going to just shove in a dream for the sake of shoving one in, you don't want to bore the reader with something completely random. If it is to show the character's insecurities and such, as you mentioned earlier, then it's perfectly okay to put in a dream. Personally, if the dream is interesting and "dream-like" (bizarre, out of touch, etc.), then it is tolerable.
     
  6. Terri
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    Terri Senior Member

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    If it doesn't add to the character OR the plot in some way skip the dreams. They're wasted words & there's no point to them.
     
  7. guamyankee
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    guamyankee Contributing Member

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    Well said. And if the dream is necessary, make sure the reader knows it is a dream. Don't play the "Surprise! It was all just a dream!" game. I happen to be reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods at the moment, and he does a very nice job of transitioning from reality to dreams. Consider the following passage:

    Sleep took him then, without Shadow noticing.
    He was walking...
    He was walking through a room bigger than a city, and everywhere he looked there were statues and carvings and rough-hewn images.
     
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Taylee, I get what you're trying to do - convey the male character's reluctance to open up about his feelings, especially his fears, in a way that shows rather than tells. I think using dreams, though, is less than the ideal way to go. For one thing, I find that dreams are never as specific as portrayed in fiction, and so may seem to the reader to be forced.

    To explain the other, I need to give some background. I am blessed to be married to a woman who believes firmly in getting everything out in the open. So, I have rarely felt the need to suppress anything. But once, a few years back, I found myself in an awful and untenable position in my work, and for a few months I was actually worried I might lose my job (corporations don't like to be argued with). My wife knew this, and she was very supportive, but because we were managing the care of both her elderly parents, I felt constrained from opening up as much as I normally would have done. When my fears and anxieties sparked dreams (and they did on occasion), I never dreamed about my work situation - I dreamed lots of bizarre things that probably reflected my fears, but nothing direct. I suspect I was fairly typical in this. So, if you have your character dream as an expression of his fears, it would probably be more realistic if they weren't about his fears, directly. But then that will be yet another leap the reader has to make.

    I would suggest as an alternative showing your character in moments when he is alone being a nervous wreck about whatever it is that is troubling him, but when he is with others - perhaps a female friend or girlfriend who senses his troubles and asks - he puts on a calm veneer or false bravado. Your readers will get the point.
     
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  9. bumblebot
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    bumblebot Senior Member

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    I don't like them very much.

    If it is in a story, it has to be meaningful and build tension, and real dreams just don't do that; they usually don't provide deep insight into our fears or personalities, or allude to something important to come. They are random and nonsensical, and I don't care much to hear about the dreams of others. Working in a dream that serves to develop a character or build tension usually comes off as contrived.

    The exception would be if it was established that your character has dreams that generally mean something, like a seer.
     
  10. Jaded Mist
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    Jaded Mist New Member

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    It would depend on the circumstances and how the dreams relate to the plot. Are they just completely random and unrelated? And are there several of them? That would annoy. Are they related, tied in securely with the plot, well written, used, and placed? Those are enjoyable. But generally I don't like a story that is positively drenched with dreams, unless dreams are a major part of the plot; for example, the Circle Trilogy (or "Cycle" now, I suppose, though I refuse to acknowledge "Green" as a part of the series), uses dreams very much, but it is because the plot is centered and grounded around said dreams. Not because the author decided it would be a convenient way to add something "cool" to the story.

    ~JM
     
  11. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^I wasn't sure how many he'd have or how often he would have them. I was thinking of him dreaming a few here and there.

    But I think I will let the idea go. You guys have given me some good advice. Thank you all :)
     
  12. MidnightPhoenix
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    MidnightPhoenix Contributing Member

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    Has long as the dream is saying something about your character, could be reveal something about a past or anything like that. I think it will be a good insight for people:)
     
  13. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    I was meaning for the dreams to be insightful. Aside from Hank thinking about his own problems and stuff, he doesn't really talk. Not even to a new friend he makes at school. This'd be an outlet for me to kinda foreshadow what's going on for him.

    But, idk, I'll think about it more. Some things just take a while for me to scope out the pros and cons and figure out if they'll fit in well.
     
  14. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Sounds like a good idea, actually. It depends mostly on how you execute it, of course. ;)
     
  15. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Hmm...I know. Thank you. If I do add in a few dreams, I want them to take the place of him either thinking about his own fears or talking about them to a friend. It would maybe balance the scale out because it just seems too obvious for me to write him thinking about himself.

    See, he just doesn't like to talk about his own thoughts to people. He doesn't know how to. He's afraid of what people will thing of him, but at the same time he's also afraid they won't understand him. He has reached a point in life where he finds himself filled with unrest and confusion.

    Hank like feels trapped inside of himself kinda.
     
  16. Daisy215
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    Daisy215 Member

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    If they are well written, and essential to the plot then I don't think dreams are a bad thing.
    Of course, if they are long and full of symbolism I may skip through, my eighteen year old attention span is only so long. :D
     
  17. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    ^Thank you for saying that. I don't like details that are long-winded at all. And I hate to admit it, but I've let go of books on the first page or so. I have to cut to the chase in order to be interested.

    If I do add a few dreams into my story, they certainly won't be too long. And certainly not filled with symbolism. I can't do too much more symbolism than what I've already put in :) No, they'd be short and more concering to Hank but not a big huge deal. I just want them as another outlet to reveal things about him since I'm gonna switch between his POV and a second POV in my story.
     

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