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Non-HF Writing

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3564
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue December 30th, 2008, 6:41 pm

[quote=""Rowan""]
I do have a purpose for asking this.... of all the writing I've ever done, dream scenes seem to be the most difficult for me. In reality I have some pretty bizarre dreams and some pretty cool dreams (occasionally), but I cannot seem to translate the altered reality/bizarreness of the dream world onto paper. Any tips? :o
[/quote]

Speaking from counseling experience, I believe dreams are very important to our mental life. One-third of your life is spent sleeping, and more than half of that is spent dreaming. I know everyone rolls their eyes at the literary cliche 'it was all a dream, after all' and hearing about the weird workings of other people's disjointed unconscious minds can be a bore. But when it comes to revealing what a character is thinking, how they are responding to the circumstances they are in, dreams are very significant.

The secret is to make sure the dream sequence belongs where you put it, that it pulls the reader into the storyworld and the situation instead of boring them or jerking them out of it. Lots of writers have used dream scenes very effectively. They can foreshadow something that is going to happen, or in a mystery, dreams can provide a 'red herring'. Or they can give a different take on something that the character has already experienced in the story, or serve to bring a certain bit of backstory into the present.

I just read the Twilight series, and in the second book, Meyers used a dream sequence to move the reader quickly into the essential parts of her storyworld. If you read it, you can see that she established: 1.the properties of vampires in her version; 2. the relationship between the protagonists; 3. a little of the family backstory of Bella; and 4. the story-launch conflict of aging versus immortality.
For a light, fluffy read, that dream-synopsis was masterfully done.

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LoveHistory
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Location: Wisconsin, USA
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Post by LoveHistory » Tue December 30th, 2008, 7:56 pm

I write fiction that is non-historical. Short stories. A little poetry. Some day I plan to write some non-fiction as well.

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Rowan
Bibliophile
Posts: 1462
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I love history, but it's boring in school. Historical fiction brings it alive for me.
Preferred HF: Iron-Age Britain, Roman Britain, Medieval Britain
Location: New Orleans
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Post by Rowan » Tue December 30th, 2008, 9:17 pm

[quote=""MLE""]Speaking from counseling experience, I believe dreams are very important to our mental life. One-third of your life is spent sleeping, and more than half of that is spent dreaming. I know everyone rolls their eyes at the literary cliche 'it was all a dream, after all' and hearing about the weird workings of other people's disjointed unconscious minds can be a bore. But when it comes to revealing what a character is thinking, how they are responding to the circumstances they are in, dreams are very significant.

The secret is to make sure the dream sequence belongs where you put it, that it pulls the reader into the storyworld and the situation instead of boring them or jerking them out of it. Lots of writers have used dream scenes very effectively. They can foreshadow something that is going to happen, or in a mystery, dreams can provide a 'red herring'. Or they can give a different take on something that the character has already experienced in the story, or serve to bring a certain bit of backstory into the present. [/quote]

I've understood for a while now the importance of dreams both in life and in fiction. It's just capturing that essence that I have a problem with. :(

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EC2
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Location: Nottingham UK
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Post by EC2 » Tue December 30th, 2008, 9:27 pm

[quote=""MLE""]
The secret is to make sure the dream sequence belongs where you put it, that it pulls the reader into the storyworld and the situation instead of boring them or jerking them out of it. Lots of writers have used dream scenes very effectively. They can foreshadow something that is going to happen, or in a mystery, dreams can provide a 'red herring'. Or they can give a different take on something that the character has already experienced in the story, or serve to bring a certain bit of backstory into the present.
[/quote]

LOL! I have a reading buddy who has founded a society called DOUBT - "For those who dislike Dreams of Unspecified Bizarre Things as Plot Devices in Novels"

I think dreams are very useful myself, both in novels and out of them, and I've certainly had at least two very strong 'visitation' dreams that have shown me the path to take. So I'm all for them....
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Tue December 30th, 2008, 9:42 pm

[quote=""Rowan""]I've understood for a while now the importance of dreams both in life and in fiction. It's just capturing that essence that I have a problem with. :( [/quote]

It's something that works very well when it's done by a skilled author, but when the author is less skilled, it can fall flat. Anne Tyler's Saint Maybe (non HF) uses the hero's dreams about his late brother very effectively to illustrate the hero's changing state of mind, but in a novel by another author I read recently, I kept thinking, "Oh lord, here's another one," whenever the author trotted out a dream sequence, even though the novel as a whole wasn't bad at all.
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles


http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/
http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/blog/

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Melisende
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Location: Australia

Post by Melisende » Tue December 30th, 2008, 10:54 pm

Rowan,

I write articles of a historic nature and I write biographies of historical figures (predominantly women).
"For my part, I adhere to the maxim of antiquity: The throne is a glorious sepulchre."

Women of History

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Rowan
Bibliophile
Posts: 1462
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I love history, but it's boring in school. Historical fiction brings it alive for me.
Preferred HF: Iron-Age Britain, Roman Britain, Medieval Britain
Location: New Orleans
Contact:

Post by Rowan » Tue December 30th, 2008, 11:05 pm

[quote=""boswellbaxter""]It's something that works very well when it's done by a skilled author, but when the author is less skilled, it can fall flat. Anne Tyler's Saint Maybe (non HF) uses the hero's dreams about his late brother very effectively to illustrate the hero's changing state of mind, but in a novel by another author I read recently, I kept thinking, "Oh lord, here's another one," whenever the author trotted out a dream sequence, even though the novel as a whole wasn't bad at all.[/quote]

I was only going to use the one to foreshadow something to happen later, as MLE said, but I'm not a skilled writer. I'm mediocre at best so maybe I should scrap the whole idea and try yet another approach.

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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Wed December 31st, 2008, 12:08 am

[quote=""Rowan""]I was only going to use the one to foreshadow something to happen later, as MLE said, but I'm not a skilled writer. I'm mediocre at best so maybe I should scrap the whole idea and try yet another approach.[/quote]

Oh, goodness, I didn't mean to discourage you! I do think that dream scenes (like sex scenes) can be rather bad in the wrong hands, but that certainly doesn't mean that you shouldn't give them a try. I'd read some dream sequences by authors you admire and see how they handle them, then try your own hand at it. The worst that can happen is that an editor might ask you to redo them, and the best that can happen is that the editor might love them and not want you to change a thing.
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles


http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/
http://www.susanhigginbotham.com/blog/

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donroc
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Post by donroc » Wed December 31st, 2008, 12:45 pm

I write in all gernes and media, but HF is my true love.

I sold to the TV series Mr. Novak in the 1960s and wrote for and with producers Harry Joe Brown, Albert J. Cohn, Al Ruddy, Ira Englander, and Sig Schlager among others in genres that included contemporary motorcycle racing and fantasy; teenagers on a cruise of the Greek islands; Wovoka, Death of Sitting Bull, and Wounded Knee I; and Marines in 1930s China.

I also wrote as a with Vitamin Enriched for Carl DeSantis, founder of Rexall Sundown Vitamins and for Lawrence S. Hakim MD, FACS head of Cleveland Clinic's unit on Sexual Dysfunction, The Couple's Disease, 2002, and then there is my contemporary thrill-horror novel, A gathering of Vultures, DarkHart, 2007.

I have completed another dark ms., a WWII novel about fighter aces, and a contemporary romance.

And I am working on a sequel to Rocamora.
Image

Bodo the Apostate, a novel set during the reign of Louis the Pious and end of the Carolingian Empire.

http://www.donaldmichaelplatt.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXZthhY6 ... annel_page

Carla
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Post by Carla » Wed December 31st, 2008, 5:26 pm

[quote=""boswellbaxter""]Oh, goodness, I didn't mean to discourage you! I do think that dream scenes (like sex scenes) can be rather bad in the wrong hands, but that certainly doesn't mean that you shouldn't give them a try. I'd read some dream sequences by authors you admire and see how they handle them, then try your own hand at it. The worst that can happen is that an editor might ask you to redo them, and the best that can happen is that the editor might love them and not want you to change a thing.[/quote]

I second that. Try it and see. You can always edit it later if you feel you need to, but it's only when you write it that you'll be able to see how it fits with the rest of your story.
PATHS OF EXILE - love, war, honour and betrayal in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria
Editor's Choice, Historical Novels Review, August 2009
Now available as e-book on Amazon Kindleand in Kindle, Epub (Nook, Sony Reader), Palm and other formats on Smashwords
Website: http://www.carlanayland.org
Blog: http://carlanayland.blogspot.com

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