Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Inspiration: Dreams.

            I don’t know about a lot of writers, but I get a lot of ideas, characters, scenes, and even complete stories from stuff I dream.  My brain never seems to go into stand-by or sleep mode.  It continues to mull things over and work on ideas even when my body checks out for the night, so most of my dreams are as vivid and cohesive as movies or video games.  This is also true for my daydream moments.
            I suppose part of the reason is during my awake-time I think of my scenes in the terms: if my book was someday turned into a movie, how would I like it to look?  I tackle many of my scenes—especially fight scenes—this way.  It’s also why I usually take the position of an omniscient narrator.  That way I can freeze-frame something and examine it from all angles to see how I want to describe it rather than having a fixed viewpoint through a single character.
            Dreams can be a great source of inspiration.  Though for many people they seem like utter nonsense, there are elements that can be utilized—such as a strong emotion someone feels, or a line someone says.  Sometimes it’s the outfits people are wearing, or weapons they use, food they eat, or history they have.  Even plot, twisted though dreams can make it, can be adopted and adapted to suit a story.
            One such story for me is a newer one, called Sunfall, which I was working on up until November of ’09 with my friend Megan.  The prologue was what I had gotten from a dream: a strangely empty battlefield on which our hero awakens wondering why he’s alive and it looks like no fight has taken place even though he was just in it.  There are no bodies, no spent weapons, no blast craters, no smell of blood or ozone.  Just a haunting silence and emptiness.  He is badly injured, injuries he knows happened during the fight.  He manages to find a single other person—a woman—in a bizarre state: she is lying unharmed within a massive charred circle, which is the only damage he’s seen in his search.  I used his confusion, fear, and desperation—all of which were very powerful in the dream.
            Some dreams I cannibalize what I can.  The visceral fear of some unknown hunting me, a hand-to-hand blade fight scene, gentle, heartfelt words spoken by a character to one they love, the appearance of a mysterious figure at a distance that to some means terror, but to others means salvation—all of those things can be used to better my work.
            Another set of stories inspired by my dreams are found in my Dragonsword Saga series: the Jemspur.  They were partially inspired by the artwork on the cover of Shadow Moon, the first book of a trilogy set after George Lucas’s Willow, but the stories came about in dreams.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post. Come to think of it, I have also gotten some story ideas or "scenes" from dreams.

    I think dreams are really a fascinating and potentially rich source of fiction work because dreams are somewhat based upon reality and our brain's need to synthesize/understand what is going on in our lives, but they often do so in ways that are completely off-the-wall!

    Good thoughts... Now I am itching to go write a story based on a dream I had a year ago. :)