1. dave_c
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    dave_c Active Member

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    waking up from a dream without it being......tacky?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by dave_c, Oct 5, 2011.

    there is a situation where my character is forced to live out his worst fear without knowing he is dreaming. He wakes up basically when his own abilities go berserk after a loved one is killed in the dream. Is this totally over used? Is it still an acceptable way write it? It seems like a way of creating false tension.

    I know its an odd one but each time i write it i get visions of the ending to Time bandits and other cheesy books/films and as a rule, i hate it when books do this.

    perhaps if i make it so that the reader knows its a dream, or does this remove the chance of the reader feeling emotion towards the character?

    any help appreciated, i gotta stop writing at night, its doing my brain absolutely no good what so ever, lol.
     
  2. MasonAdey
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    MasonAdey New Member

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    A book that may interest you as a point of reference is Stuff Of Nightmares by Malorie Blackman in which a boy involved in a train crash fleas Death by hiding within peoples nightmares.

    I dont think it will be an emotional block if the reader knows its a dream, after all its the protagonists worst nightmare...surely if the reader is invested enough in the protagonist their fears etc should upset/move the reader and help them to empathize with the character? I think if you make it perfectly clear that its a nightmare, and that its the characters deepest fears and you stress how much impact it will have on the character despite it not being "real" then the reader will get just as much emotion out of it :)
     
  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Don't use cliched phrases like "He woke with his heart pounding," etc. Write it so it takes the readers 3-4 sentences to a paragraph to realize that they've come out of the dream. This parallels the way someone actually wakes up, having that "Ohhhh, it wasn't real!" realization, instead of using infodumps to spell it out for them. Hope this helps. :)
     
  4. UberNoodle
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    UberNoodle Senior Member

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    I sometimes wake up from a dream with a line break. Say, for example, my character is having a bad dream: I build up the tension and then ...
    *white space*
    We are now back in reality, and I make some reference to the first thing my characters recognises, perhaps the light in the room or the ceiling. Because I always remember my last moments of dreaming, many of my characters do to, so I may reference some 'ghosts' of that dream which have followed them into wakefulness.

    The other way I usually do dreams is that I leave the dream before it's 'wake-up point' and transition with a line break to a much later scene, say, breakfast, the next morning at work, or sitting on the train. But usually, unless the viewpoint character has some means to remember his or her dreams, I don't write them. If I do, I just write the disorientating 'in-and-out' dreaming and synesthesia one experiences if really tired, just before falling fully asleep.

    If I want to imply that my character will have a bad night's sleep, say, because of stress about a relationship, I describe their thoughts on that while they are succumbing to sleep, and then, I end the scene on some ominous tone. In the next scene, usually fully awake, ie, on the train, my character may remember the remains or impression that his waking dream had left in him. In this way, unless the story allows for my viewpoint characters to know exactly what he or she had dreamt, I avoid writing dreams in this way.
     
  5. Yasin
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    Yasin Member

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    Totally agree. Maybe you shouldnt come out n actually say it was a dream at all. Maybe you could give hints towards that and let the reader decide? Maybe? Maybe not :confused:
     
  6. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    One thing to remember is that the narrative of dreams is different from real life. It's actually more like that one game wherepeople take turns continuing a story while only seeing the last paragraph - the plotline of a dream is often not consistent throughout the entire dream, but instead only consistent with the previous couple moments. And weird things happen without anyone reacting, such as the many times in my dreams that a child I'm caring for keeps turning into a cat and then back again without me noticing. If you write a dream like it's actually a dream, people will notice the incongruities and ponder over them, so instead of murdering tension, the awakening causes an 'aga' moment as you realize there's a reason why the narrative was so strange.
     
  7. dave_c
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    dave_c Active Member

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    thanks really appreciate the input on this one, sorry it took me so long to reply.
     
  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you make sure your readers know it's a dream from the beginning, I think it'll be fine. Just don't have the dream thing as a "twist" because for me, that'd be an anti-climax. Perhaps your character could be trapped in the dream. Or perhaps you could drift in and out of his dreams, so that the reader doesn't always know which part is a dream, and which part is real, which would make a very interesting book but terribly hard to write.
     
  9. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    You might want to catch an episode of "Awake" on TV. This is roughly the plot there, too.

    He's a cop, involved in a suspicious car accident with his wife and son--there's a singular death. He falls asleep. But upon waking his son has died and his wife is alive, but if he falls asleep there he awakes "on the other side" where his wife is dead and the the son is alive.

    He has two shrinks, one on each side. The stories usually develop as he learns things on one side that help him solve crimes on the other, and vice versa.

    Obviously the guy is conflicted.
     
  10. zarz
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    zarz Banned

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    Maybe you should try awakening your character without ever truly having him wake up. Transition from an abstract dream to reality by perhaps walking through a door.

    -zarz
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Just don't have your character wake up to find the husband, murdered a year ago, cheerfully taking a shower (the entire year was a dream).

    Of course, no one would REALLY write anything THAT tacky! (heh)
     
  12. aimeekath
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    aimeekath Senior Member

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    Perhaps not letting the readers know that it was a dream would create some interesting ambiguity and would lessen the kind of emotional block you're worried about.

    For me I don't see stuff like that as an emotional block, because it gives an insight into the character's fears. However I'm not sure about how other people would feel about it. Though it can sometimes be a bit disapointing if it's really exciting or full of tension, and then suddenly you find it was a dream and it doesn't seem to matter as much, like in the Silent Hill movie. That sucked a bit.

    I suppose you could overcome that dissapointment by having the character obsess over the dream.

    Or you could just change the style that it was written in to suggest a dream. Or write something like "I fell into an uneasy sleep" before the dream.
     

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