Thursday, March 10, 2005


Don't you hate it when someone wants to tell you their dream?  Unless the teller says "I dreamt about you last night" you have no real interest.

The author of a novel is never going to have a dream about you.  So why must so many of them tell us dreams?  I've just finished two books loaded with dreams.  One of them I recommended below, but only because the rest of the book is so good.  Still, I wish he hadn't done it.

I hate dreams in novels.  Why should I have to interpret a dream?  I want the author to interpret it in the sense that she/he uses another device to give me the same information.

A line or two of a dream is acceptable if it's meaningful and easy to understand.  But pages of dream recall?  Never.  I think writing long dreams in a novel is the lazy way out.  Oh, I can hear you now saying, but complicated dreams on the page take a great deal of skill.  Skill for what purpose?  Perhaps to show off?  I wish I could put a ban on dreams longer than two sentences. 

Just tell me the story.


dunsany said...

Agreed, hate long dream sequences. Especially the author plays games and pretends it's reality. Hate that in visual media too.

I like to play with a dream but I keep it very short and to the point. Basically foreshadow/tease the reader with a non-sequitur and a mention of an unknown character.

"I was wrong. I did get some sleep. A couple of restless hours here and there, punctured by guilty nightmares of things I thought I'd finally forgotten. And Trisha. That night in my dreams, I saw Trisha's swollen face."

In any dream-thing, I try to get in and out fast.

Sarah said...

Sandra, after I read this, I went back to my own project (which had an allusion to a dream sequence that I was going to rewrite as a dream) and realized the whole thing had to go. Better to keep things moving forward instead of flashing back with dreams...

Roy said...

I can't even stand it when someone puts poems inside novels. May as well put a recipe in there.

But, in some sense, the whole novel is a dream, anyway. To put a dream inside it is like putting a song inside a song.

James C. Hess said...

Just tell me the story.


You don't know how many times I have said that. I am not alone in my pursuit of this simple request, then.