Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Other People's Dreams

Other people's dreams are boring unless you're in them.  A dream as a story device works too often as a cheap shortcut to the hard work of storytelling.  

Suppose you have a character afraid of failure.  Instead of letting this character reveal his fear by interacting with other people and events, we add a dream sequence in which he burns all his work and smashes his computer.  What becomes of the story?  The device struts on the page and shouts at the reader, leaving the story lurking behind.

Ask yourself what you are trying to reveal that could be done through good old-fashioned character development.  Don't let an easy device rob you of plotting your way into your character's psyche.

Catherine Alexander

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