Wednesday Wing….Should you write dreams into your work? #wwwblogs #WriterTips

Welcome to my new feature called Wednesday Wing where I’ll be passing on

observations, tips and information to readers I’ve made a note of.

Rosie's Notebook

Today I’m passing on a tip about DREAMS in you writing.

Using dreams in your work has been used for years, just look at Charles Dickens and “A Christmas Carol” but now it’s a technique which is often used poorly in writing. Kirsten Lamb explains it really concisely and much better than I ever will to check out this post

When Dreams Go Bad—Dream Sequences, What Works & What Flops

What happens when I read about dreams as a reader?

Opening lines

If your book opens with a dream sequence my eyes roll upwards and I think “OH NO!” This is because as Kirsten explains, the hook you use to open the book, becomes a lie and you are in fact sublimely saying to the reader at the end of the dream sequence “Ha, ha tricked you, this isn’t real”. Then the reader has to start all over again when the “Real” story begins. If you opened with a lie, the message to the reader is “You can’t trust my writing”.

It can be much better to go WHAM into a story with a high impact opening which will get a reader asking questions – a murder (murder mystery), a plane crash (thriller), an explosion (Sci-fi), a wizard in broad daylight on the streets of London (fantasy), hot rugged man stripped his shirt off (Romance). All these scenes well written will have me asking “Why is this happening?” and I WANT to read on to find the answers.

Dreams within the book

How useful are dreams used within the main body of the book? As Kirsten says in her article unless the dream moves the storyline forward in a significant way, DO NOT use them. So often they are used as an information dump, or a back story or a filler, authors use them badly as convenient ways to find answers and solve puzzles. Some writers try to disguise them as Day dreams or reminiscing BUT I’ll be HONEST here, as a reader this is a MAJOR area where I WILL SKIP these sections because TOO often they are BORING.

Dream scenes are NOT new, they are NOT cutting edge writing, they have been done before, are over-used and turn readers off.

So if you’ve used dreams, go back and check to see if they are REALLY needed and if you can, CUT them out.

Here are links to previous Wednesday Wing Posts.

May 6th 2015 – Checking your WordPress is linked to your Twitter helps others share your posts http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7L2

May 13th 2015 – Writer’s Craft books by Rayne Hall full of REALLY useful tips http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7Ma

May 20th 2015 – Hyperlinks, Short links and Linkys http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7Rl

May 27th 2015 – Making your post titles easy to share on Twitter to maximise views. http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7SA

June 17th 2015 – Creating Twitter pics that fit http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7Y4

June 24th 2015 – Creating a slideshow on WordPress http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7Yo

July 1st 2015 – Getting the most out of Google+ posts http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7YM

July 8th 2015 – Automated Tweets, LOVE ‘EM or HATE ‘EM? make use of them http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-7Za

July 15th 2015 – What’s Your Book Genre? http://wp.me/p2Eu3u-84S

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25 thoughts on “Wednesday Wing….Should you write dreams into your work? #wwwblogs #WriterTips

  1. Couldn’t agree more! Whenever I come to a dream sequence in a story I skip it – who cares? It’s about as interesting as listening to the details of someone’s dream in real life – yaaawwwnnnn!!! Unless it’s particularly relevant or funny, of course. Ditto when I see them on TV dramas.

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  2. This is really interesting to read, Rosie. My YA series is based around my heroines dreams becoming a reality and then sending her off on a journey to save friends, grow and learn. I loved writing the dream sequences as I could be very dark and twisted in them (as many of our dreams can be). It certainly helps to hear thoughts from a readers POV so, as a writer, I can develop my story without driving my reader away. As always, your Wednesday tips are so helpful. Thank you x

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    • Awkward one there Shelley! As long as the dream isn’t too big a part of the whole you might get away with it. What might work, is a quick couple of sentences explaining what was seen in a past dream, then making a much larger part about the messages received and where that takes the storyline. Of course there will always be readers who don’t mind dreams and in the YA market you are often targeting new readers.

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  3. Like you, I generally don’t like dreams as a reader and try to avoid them in my writing. Yet I’ve put a dream in the middle of my novel which I believe enhances the plot – but waiting to hear back from readers on how it’s experienced. It’s a very interesting issue for readers and writers – fab post, Rosie

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  4. This reminds me of a plot line in Dallas – where Patrick Duffy comes out of the shower (yes, yes, I know this was a long time ago and it shows my age but…) he’d been dead fro two series and then it turns out to have been a dream by his on-screen wife.

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  5. Good advice. Dreams in books need to do a lot of work for the story in order to justify them, and starting off with a dream is very risky. Fortunately I haven’t seen much of that.

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