Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dream on

Have I ranted lately? Okay, sure, but have I ranted about myleast favorite writing device, the dream sequence? Okay… have I done it withinthe last couple of months? No? Good. Here I go.

I recently finished reading The Stand, by Stephen King. What’s amazed me about my reading experience might not seem like such ahot deal to you but it does to me so you have to hear about it: I read everysingle dream sequence in the book--and there are a lot of them.

I am biased against dream sequences in stories. Why? Well,as a veteran dreamer, I know that dreams are seldom (ever) trustworthy sourcesof information. So when I come across one in a story my immediate reaction isto think “I don’t need this, why is it here?”

I suspect most dreamsare included for one of two reasons: to give the writer a stage fordouble-barrel prose or to reveal (usually with double-barrel prose) the emotionsa character is suppressing.And yes, I’m guilty as charged. Perhaps that’s one reason I’mso quick to recoil when I come across a dream on the page: I wish I could takeback the ones I’ve written.

But not once did I feel that about the dreams in The Stand. They are a crucial element ofthe novel, one that both binds and divides every single character in the story,even the lone dog.

I love it when I come across something that upends a writingprejudice. Has that ever happened to you? Do you have a writing/reading petpeeve that you had to let go of because of the way it was used/handled byanother writer? Do tell.

1 comment:

  1. Marsha, I wrote a "but it was all a dream" stories and the editor accepted it. It was published in a collection of short stories.
    I didn't realize that such stories were unofficially banned from literature until a few years later, when I read in a "how to write" book that readers feel cheated when they reach the end of a thrilling piece and voila! the main character wakes up, the end.
    I've vowed never to write one again. In a critique of a YA manuscript I'm working for a friened the main character has several dreams -- all of which I've suggested that he delete -- because the dreams are merely rehashes of how his character spent his waking hours and doesn't add any meat to the novel.
    Your rant gave me hope, especially if I ever come back in life as Stephen King.