I recently read a character development exercise where you get to know your character through two different approaches. The first being their dreams. This can unlock various items that can be repeated through your wip to establish symbolism, among other things. The second, being to imagine your character getting dressed, or going through their full morning routine. This will unlock habits, and give a deeper sense of your character. So I've decided to try both, but up first will be the dream. To begin the exercise you're instructed to start with a sentence such as, He/she is dreaming... or ______ is dreaming about.... (So basically you begin by closing your eyes, clearing your mind by focusing on your breathing then imagine what your character might dream about, and don't worry about punctuation or grammar.)
Syn Acker, is dreaming about floating lightly as a feather over her hospital bed. She's no longer wearing the horrible open backed hospital gowns, but instead a flowing white shift. She can't feel her body. She can't feel anything, but she is now able to move, to look around her hospital room. There is a picture on the wall of rolling grass fading back into a canyon, and blue sky everywhere. She feels herself fall into that endless blue sky of the painting. Somewhere far away from her she is becomes aware of voices. The same voices she heard inside her hospital room so many times, but could never see. She turns to look for the faces that go with the voices. She sees her mother in her black funeral clothes, hunched in on herself crying, sitting on a puffy white cloud beside a dark haired man. She can't tell who the man is, but she hear's them. Behind them on the cloud simply looming there is a tall figure, that seems masculine despite the long hook beaked mask it wears, the figure makes her skin crawl. The masked figure doesn't speak or move. Syn's mother feels guilty, because they left Syn behind in such a terrible place. They left her helpless and alone. The man sighs, seemingly exhausted. He sounds so reasonable as he leans over assuring her mother that neither one of them signed up for this kind of life. That Syn would want them to live, and find comfort. Something is wrong about his face, it contorts sneering as he speaks. He leans in and takes a bite out of Syn's mother's neck, and she doesn't seem to notice. She cuddles in closer to the man, almost relieved to have a shoulder to cry on. This sicken's Syn. Syn tries to scream, to go to her mother, to help her, but she can't. They can't seem to see or hear her. Her heart beat jumps in her ears as she tries to float closer to her mother's cloud. But she's helpless and can do nothing as the man (who Syn realizes is her fiance Tate) pushes her already dying mother from the cloud and licks his fingers clean. Syn screams a ragged wail in her dream, which throws her body into a fit waking her in her hospital bed.
So in reading back over this, I've learned a few things. First, my mc never really trusts her fiance. Which is a pretty big deal in and of itself. Secondly, she's afraid of being or feeling helpless. Thirdly, she feels something or someone looming over her at a distance, and it makes her uncomfortable, it could be death or a few other possibilities. I believe I will try the "dressing room" exercise and then come back to do another dream for this character to delve deeper.
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