1. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Theme Too cliched?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by No-Name Slob, Oct 19, 2015.

    I have an idea for a short story, but I can't help but wonder if others would find it too cliche, even though there's a slight twist.

    We're all well versed in the dream cliche: one starts their story in the middle of a dream, unbeknownst to the audience, and the MC goes through some terrible trials before waking and revealing to the audience that it was all a dream. Classically, they awake to some kind of relief, usually the opposite of what they were dreaming (IE: Dorothy struggles to get home to Kansas, and wakes to realize that she never left home after all). This is also done in horror movies all the time to help foreshadow coming events, but the emotion tied with it is usually relief. I think we can all agree that this is somewhat overdone.

    But how often do you read the opposite?

    Is it too overdone to write a story where the character is dreaming something wonderful, only to awake to a dystopian reality, which ties in with elements of the dream?
     
  2. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Probably many(most) people will consider a story that is predominantly just a dream to be both a cliche and a cop out, regardless of whether the dream is positive or negative. If I had to choose between the two versions, I definitely would be more impressed with a reality that is shittier than the dream. This has been done before in the movie Vanilla Sky.

    I will also say that the cliche is not the part that people hate so much. It's the cop out. You need to find a way to make the dream important beyond the scope of the dream itself.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2015
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  3. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Numbers. If a large part of your story has no consequences, then your audience might feel cheated.
     
  4. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    If you have a story to write, write it. Good practice and an opportunity to refine your skills.
     
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  5. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've reread this bit carefully. It could definitely work, but I'm a believer that most good fiction relies on conflict.

    For example, if you wrote about someone living in a wonderful world, and it seems too good to be true, and the entire novel they are questioning that reality, and then wake up to find themselves in the real world, that was foreshadowed by the dream, that would be fine. It would also be very much like Vanilla Sky...
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I'd like some hint that this dream reality might be phony or suspect. There's nothing worse than having a twist with no anticipation.
     
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  7. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks everyone for your feedback!

    @123456789 -- I've never actually seen Vanilla Sky, maybe I'll watch it. :)

    I was inspired by the themes and tone of various plot lines from The Twilight Zone, though.
     
  8. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    I relate to this premise on such a personal level, oh god. Please write this book. :bigeek:
     
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  9. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    As others have eluded to, what's the point of the dream? What does it do to enhance the story? What is it's function? The cliche part is not really the problem. It's the importance part.
     
  10. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Now that you mention it, me too, actually! When I was 13, I lost all of my motor functions due to this super weird disease caused by Mono, and I used to have repeated dreams that the disease was all a dream and I was actually completely well. So I'd wake up like, "Phew. Dodged a bullet on that one!" And I'd stand up, relieved, and topple right back down. Lol.

    (I can laugh about it now, but obviously it was slightly traumatic at the time, but the vivid memories of me falling over all the damn time cause me to giggle)

    ETA -- Now that I just typed it out, I'm pretty sure that you and I have already discussed this ... lol
     
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  11. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Can a short story be written simply to showcase the human condition? Does it really need a detailed, pointed purpose otherwise?

    I don't know, honestly. I'm intrigued by the concept of making the mundane interesting -- by writing about every day struggles we all relate to, rather than epic battles full of conflict.

    That's kind of something I always struggle with. Is it enough simply to write about what we all experience, in an interesting way?
     
  12. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Yes.
     
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  13. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    @No-Name Slob I don't recall having discussed that before, but no worries. :agreed:


    You write whatever you god damn want to write. If people think it's dumb, slap them with a fish. Then you keep writing the thing. :write:
     
  14. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short story? Now that's a different case, in my opinion.
     
  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry, I can't stand when people say this. You can write whatever you want, sure, but your audience is more important than you are.
     
  16. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, definitely not a novel.
     
  17. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with this to an extent. I don't think that people always write for an audience, though.

    I am one who greatly considers my *potential* audience, though I think it'd be a small one. My "market" is not the masses, and hypothetically, my following would probably be cultic at best. Lol.
     
  18. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    Sorry Numbers. I write for me, for the sheer joy of it... lucky that some people just happen to like what I share I guess.
     
  19. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    All elements have a purpose/function, be it the creation/enhancement of the atmosphere, character or plot. If a dream sequence does nothing more than establish the characters internal desires or fears, that is enough of a purpose to merit it's inclusion. Even if it's there as a red herring, that serves a purpose. But is that purpose warranted and worth it? That depends. While deceiving could be a purpose, it wouldn't be worth the frustration, while exploring of a state of mind would probably enhance a character's journey.

    The mundane isn't inherently interesting. There needs to be something about it that becomes interesting, like the dancing bag in American Beauty, and that is achieved through character perception. So if you are using the dream to create perspective it's purpose could be worth it.
     
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  20. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Driving through a take way food establishment's drive-thru and determining the order with your family is about as mundane an activity as you can get.

    You kicked that scenario's ass sideways, so stop deliberating and start writing :p :agreed:
     
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  21. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Lol. You know me too well.

    :friend:
     
  22. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    I think we're peas in similar pods :D
     
  23. Tella
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    Tella Member

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    I cannot but agree with Selbbin. Every component in a story serves a purpose.

    There is an glaring chasm in the way of thinking of the writer's community. There are those who write "for fun", as the opposite writes "to share", be it with an intimate community or all the way to bestseller. Now I am no professional, but I've noticed that usually the "for fun" writer tends to be more carefree as to how others percieve their story. It could come into expression in the dilligence spent on their writing, how deeply they think of it, etc... you could say they are less "professional" and more happy-go-lucky - there is much less thinking about purpose, it is rather a whim. Take as an example the werewolf-vampire fanaticism. Instead of having moustache-primming thoughts like "the werewolf is a literary incarnation of human ferocity" or somesuch, the writer writes simply for the sake of "holy moly it's so cool". It's not necessarily inferior, but there just less to think about. Not to say that there is anything wrong with one way of writing over another. It's all a matter of your target audience and the content you get from your own writing.

    I share an affinity toward logical writing, a good balance between emotion and clear thinking. Take as an example All My Sons. It is really a simple story: nice family, dad does something horrible, years later he realizes the capacity of his actions, he takes his life. The construct is nothing amazing, but the massage, the contribution of each character to the story, the irony of the setting - a nice familly meeting at a well-to-do house at the expense of dead pilots, and so on. The story is simple, but powerful as f**k (excuse me).

    Cliches are not necessarily a no-no. It all depends on what you do with them. Cliches may be delivered in countless fresh ways, toppled upside down, played with. The question a concious reader asks is "what's so interesting about this instance whereby cliche is used?". So again, cliche is fine, provided it is originally conveyed.

    Making the mundane interesting is an awesome concept, but why? Because it sheds new light on what is otherwise, well - mundane.
     
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  24. No-Name Slob
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    Yes, that's my intention with what I write.
     

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