Creating Dreams within Fiction

Posted: August 30, 2015 in Painting with Words

There’s something about writing in my underwear with a cup of coffee that makes me inspired. The thing is, though, I have to put a towel down because my chair is made of leather, and leather rubs me the wrong way, if you know what I mean. I have the thighs of a god.

Anyway, blog time.

The other day, I was killing time before work, and I wrote a scene in my book where my character experiences a dream. I’ve written about dreams before, but I think I’ve always gone about it the wrong way. In the past, I treated dreams almost like scenes within scenes, which is not quite how dreams work.

This time, while it is still technically a scene within a scene, I wrote it differently. This dream, like real dreams, possesses a certain chaos and absurdness about it. That’s how it’s supposed to be. My issue, then, is transitioning between the character’s awakened state and his dream-state, and then back again to his awakened state. I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think the transition is abrupt enough. Take a look:

Adam sat on the toilet and peed like a girl. He was too exhausted to stand.

He stayed there and held his head in his hands and closed his eyes. He instantly dreamed of a girl he used to date, a pretty-eyed thing he once knew back in Georgia. She was right there with him in Tranquility, and they were riding in an automated car with the city lights drifting quietly above them. Adam decided to prepare her a nice meal because that’s romantic, he guessed, and because he thought it might impress her if he knew how to cook. The back seat of his car was also his apartment, and though it continued to drive, he was able to cook pancakes right there on the stove. Oh, no. She won’t be impressed with pancakes. He went to grab a bottle of wine out of the fridge, but all that was there was bottled water. He searched the apartment for it, but to no avail. He tried the small refrigerator at the front of the car – nothing. He then turned back to the apartment, but saw the back seat was nothing more than what it ought to be – a back seat. He looked at the girl, embarrassed, and said, “Let’s go back to Vela. We’ll share a glass of wine at my apartment.”

Adam awoke from the dream. He gasped for air and opened his eyes, and he was still sitting there on the toilet. He forced his gaze toward the alarm clock.

It was 7:40.

I don’t know how I feel about this. Simply writing “Adam awoke from the dream” doesn’t sit right with me. The entrance to the dream seems okay. Saying he instantly dreamed was an indication of how tired he was. Also, while the clarity of the dream isn’t meant to be as clear as a waking scene, I am gambling that it’s not too unclear. It’s chaos, which is fine. But the reader needs to be able to follow what my character sees.

 

April, 18, 2017 UPDATE: Here’s what I ultimately came up with:

The alarm, an old-fashioned model from the turn of the century, was intentionally located in the bathroom so he wouldn’t have easy-access to the snooze button. When he finally got there, his eyes were barely open, and his breathing was heavy from the effort. He silenced the alarm, and finally, there was precious, precious quiet.

Adam sat on the toilet and peed like a girl, too exhausted to stand.

He stayed there, held his head in his hands, and closed his eyes. He dreamed of a girl he used to love, a beautiful pretty-eyed brunette he knew in Atlanta named Candy.

Candy had come to Tranquility. She was in a brilliant royal-blue dress that accented her complexion and hair, and Adam wore a suit much nicer than he could afford.

It was a lovely night in the city.

They rode in his automated car as the skyscraper lights drifted quietly above them. Adam decided to prepare her a nice meal because that’s romantic, he guessed, and because he thought it might impress her if he knew how to cook.

The back seat of his car was also his apartment, and though it continued to drive, Adam cooked pancakes right there on the stove. She won’t be impressed with pancakes, he thought.

Adam forgot about the pancakes and decided a glass of wine would do instead, but all he could find was bottled water. He searched everywhere for the wine, but to no avail. He tried the lunchbox-sized refrigerator at the front of the car – nothing. He turned back to the apartment, but the back seat was nothing more than what it ought to be: A back seat. He looked at Candy, embarrassed, and said, “Let’s go back to Vela. We’ll share a glass of wine at my apartment.”

They locked eyes, and he held her hands within his own. He pulled her to him and kissed the lips of her memory.

Adam woke up and was still on the toilet. He forced his vision toward the alarm clock and saw that it was 7:40. Five minutes.

He forgot about Candy.

Clothes. There were plenty of them scattered about the floor of the bathroom, but they were too dirty to wear. By Adam’s standards, clothes were clean until they smelled bad, but these smelled so bad the whole bathroom was sour. He might be able to find something clean enough in the main room, he reasoned, so he decided to make his way that direction.

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