follow a rookie writing his first novel

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Dreaming a novel

Where do you get your ideas for stories from? Me, I dream them up. Nearly all of the good ideas I get come in the form of a dream. These dreams are a different quality from the ordinary every night anxiety dreams; I have come to identify them as ‘story’ dreams. The eventual stories aren’t always an exact replica of the dream, but the dream is the core of it. the advantage of this is that I have a clear visual representation of the characters, the scenes, sounds and pretty much everything else.

I always like to write down the bare bones of the dream as soon as possible after waking, not because I might forget the dream (the quality of these dreams is that they stay with you for a long time – more like memories than dreams), but as an aide memoir for converting into scenes. In used to use a note pad but more recently changed to the PC app ‘Evernote’ as I can combine the notes with pictures, web addresses, video and anything else along the way that relates to the story. Then when I write it I use Scrivener.

I came across a free application this week called ‘MindMaple’. It’s a mind mapping tool. I’ve tried some of these in the past and given up either because they are not intuitive enough, or the display too rigid for what I want. This app suffers from none of the above. If you have ever used any Microsoft app, then you will pick this up straight away – and unbelievably, its free! Now rather than just write a piece of text to represent the dream, I can map it out and add text to support each bubble in the map, which is much closer to how dreams feel. Try it out for yourself, you’ll be amazed…



Dream sequence continued

So, I’ve had a go at writing the dream sequence after remembering that there are actually two types of dreams that are less symbolic and more literal than your average dream – these are lucid dreams and prophetic dreams.

Lucid dreams are where you are consciously aware that you are dreaming and can therefore control (at least to some extent) the dream itself. Prophetic dreams are like a foretelling of events to come.

In my sequence, I wanted the dreamer to have no control whatsoever, I also wanted it to be just obscure enough that they couldn’t just know what it meant. I also wanted them to dismiss the dream as a nightmare on one level, but subconsciously be aware that it was something more – so a prophetic dream fitted the bill nicely.

The reason for having the dream is to foreshadow events to come so that the reader has an aha! moment when the event happens and a number of other seemingly disconnected facts suddenly make sense and show a likeable character in an entirely different light. Well that’s the plan anyway, we’ll see if I have the writing chops to pull it off…


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