1. Jessica_312
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    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

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    Dream Squences

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Jessica_312, Jun 1, 2011.

    I'm not sure if a thread has been posted on this topic before, but I was wondering how everyone writes dream sequences. Do you use italics, so the reader knows right away that it's a dream? Do you write the dream as though it is actually happening in the present, so the reader may not know it's a dream until later? Or do you avoid writing dreams altogether, just mention after-the-fact what occurred in the dream if it is vital to the plot? I'm curious to see everyone's take on this...
     
  2. Lord Malum
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    Lord Malum Senior Member

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    I don't see the point behind writing out the whole dream sequence. If my character needs to dream, I just put down what the dream entailed usually in no more than three sentences.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I've never written a dream sequence, or even referred to a dream. As a rule, dreams are very abstract and actually only of a few seconds duration. I've never found dreams as presented in fiction - written, film or television - to be in the least believable.
     
  4. Declan
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    Declan Senior Member

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    I never usually write dream sequences, per se. But I can elaborate on your question.
    I like to write surrealist parts into my stories- those dream-like passages that could or could not have happened, as I find it is useful for satirical statements and such. I learnt a lot from reading Naked Lunch about this.
    In relation to your question, I don't like to make the transition from the storie's 'reality' to the surreal obvious, or even known, but it depends entirely on what approach you are going for. I guess that would fall into your catergory of writing it "as though it is actually happening in the present", as I feel writing out an entire dream sequences is an over used technique. Mentioning a dream if it is vital to the plot seems pretty innocuous.
    That's my take on it, but I don't feel as if there is any particular way of doing it. Which ever way you find makes your work better is the one I would go for.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Forget the bloody italics!

    It's narrative, Use the context to make it as clear or ambiguous as you need it to be.

    It's just a different scene.

    Here's a short story I wrote with dream sequences interspersed with reality: Blue
     
  6. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    The best way is to do it normally write it the way you write your story. Have it be something that is actually happening to the your character and the reader only find out that it is a dream when your MC actually physically wakes from it or by some other method that you use to convey to you readers that your MC is dreaming.

    Harry Potter is a great example of this - both with the dreams and the "flashbacks" achieved through the pensive.

    Even though it seems common place now to italicize things since writing is moving more towards serving the author's preference/needs just as much as the reader's, it's not right and many who know that it's not right will pick up on it immediately.

    Italics aren't meant to separate something for you - your words and writing should be able to do that.

    And if you truly study other works where the author achieves a direct approach - where they are separating using words and not other methods/devices, you will see a distinct difference in the readers feeling towards that scene versus a scene that was shifted into by the use of italics. The reader is more engaged in a scene in which they also have to actively participate in it; whether it be analyzing, deciphering, comprehending, or cluing into the "clues" that you provided through your words to let them know that there has been a change in the scene. At the shifts of your scene, the reader should be able to clearly say: okay, that part before was a dream and this part right here is not, and I know that because of this passage right here.

    You can even argue that this is reading comprehension on the readers part. They should be able to separate clearly or clue into your words to see that there has been a shift if you don't otherwise directly say something like: "Harry startled awake." To physically separate it for the reader in someways is also undermining the reader because it's not like we don't have the ability to decipher or analyze words and their meanings and/or context.

    But anyway, writing is evolving to where italics seem to be common place when wanting to separate scenes or other things that may cause a break in your immediate structure of writing.

    I personally dislike when the author misuses italics in order to separate a scene that clearly would do better without the italics, not only because I can easily spot that it's wrong, but because it is jarring since you are telling the reader that this is a different scene entirely and YOU NEED to shift your thought process to align to my use of italics - when it would seem that the purpose of using italics to separate is done to avoid that jarring-shift and thus make it as smooth as possible.

    To make it as smooth as possible, work on making your dream scene to naturally flow into your regular "awake" scene without the use of italics or without having to structurally morph your scene to clue the reader into a shift unless it is done specifically for artistic reasons.

    I think a part of this is that many people view items like dreams, letters, notes, quoted passages etc., as being unstructured in comparison to your "regular" structured writing. But if you don't think of it as being unstructured and instead think of it as just a different scene or item you wish to incorporate into your writing, you are better suited to think in terms of: how can I structurally fit this into my regular writing style without drawing attention to that fact that it is different.
     
  7. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    Depends on the story. Sometimes I use italics, but sometimes I don't, like if the dream sequence takes up a full chapter.
     
  8. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    The only dream sequences (two, ever) I've written went something like this:

    In his dream he saw....

    or

    She knew she was dreaming...

    Neither was longer than a short paragraph or two, neither using any italics (though I see italics often in books, and don't freak out, thinking the professionals are wrong and I'm right, just preference, really), and neither was some trick on the reader where it was 'all just a dream,' obviously, as I flat out say it is.


    I know, I'm a genius, right.
     
  9. Leatherworth Featherfist
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    Leatherworth Featherfist Member

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    I write the dream as I see fit. Then I transition into reality. This works best when starting a story.

    Example: "In the dim-lit dressing car there is a cabinet. In the cabinet is a bow-tie. Chloe reaches and opens the cabinet to retrieve her tie. She snaps it onto the small V of her starched-white-shirt under her chin. She turns on her heel in a James Bond fashion and walks out.

    Chloe enters the next car to the sight of a commingled rug of human supines. Each in their own right quite dead. She steps carefully and thoughtfully across the room, and in between her guests, somewhat courteous to their slumber.

    She pauses to examine a fair-skinned woman of maybe twenty-five years. The woman’s hair sits tempestuous and mute, bestrewing the tile behind her spent expression. The dress she wears sweats with blood that streams the grouted gaps. Chloe lifts the woman’s hand and places it to her lips. Platitude averts her emotion, and she recedes to stand and release the young woman’s hand. Her eyes turn forward toward two humongous wooden doors each cladded in steel. The doors are chained and bared shut.

    She sees the chains and becomes fearful. She cries out and falls to her knees. She shuts her eyes and cries hard.

    Chloe’s eyes were dry and irritated as she awoke. The sun permeated her window exploring the cavernous exploits of her clogged nose and hit the back of her throat. The moisture particles living in her mouth had left, leaving their dry domains; undermanned and uninhabitable. Chloe tried to summon moisture back into her mouth with an exact imitation of a dog eating peanut-butter; sucking, as if milking the tits of her very atoms. She was shaken by her dream."
     
  10. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Because they can be used to link you to several murders. THEY HAVE YOUR FINGERPRINTS ON THEM.

    If you can write a dream sequence and have it not make sense in the way that dreams don't make sense, good stuff. If you're writing something that has to do heavily with dreams, well, good luck. A lot of methods have been tried and have fallen flat. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. You just need to consider what needs to come through, and how odd you can write it and still have the point come across, I guess.

    Does that make sense?
     
  11. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds like you got really boring dreams. Mine are always very long and vivid, and surprisingly coherent. :cool:
     
  12. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    He means that the time it takes to for reals dream is only a few seconds. Really, most of your dreams will happen within a few minutes during REM sleep. They might feel like they're long, but they're not.

    They're also probably not coherent. They FEEL coherent, but if you could remember them properly (close to impossible with any real degree of detail unless you condition yourself to it (also hard)) you'd realise that the coherence isn't really there.
     
  13. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, if you can write it and make clear where the dream starts and ends without italics, it's probably better. Using typographic niceties like fonts, colours and text styles makes the reader aware they're reading a book and brings them out of the flow.
     
  14. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wasn't really that serious. Guess I didn't make that clear :redface:
     
  15. CesiumLifeJacket
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    CesiumLifeJacket Member

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    Anyone here read Madeline is sleeping?
     
  16. GraceCousins
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    GraceCousins Member

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    This is an interesting question. I want to say it's just personal preference. I had a high school English teacher once who refused to mark anything from us that included a dream sequence, and yet one of the stories she made us read included a dream that was actually very well written and incorporated into the story (I wish I could remember the title, I only remember the situation because of the irony of it).

    I personally think that if it’s vital to the plot, and there’s no other way to tell it, then a dream sequence is fine as long as the reader is made well aware that it is a dream. As for italics, I don’t think they’re necessary. A simple “in [character]’s dream…” should be enough. I might be wrong. It would also depend on how it’s incorporated into the story.
     

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