“Dreamer, You’re Nothing But a Dreamer!” An Invitation to Discussion on a Plot Device

Introducing the leader of the AVS: Mary, an ordinary girl with extraordinary dreams that come true... and lately, most of them are nightmares.

Introducing the leader of the AVS: Mary, an ordinary girl with extraordinary dreams that come true… and lately, most of them are nightmares.

Some of 16-year-old Mary’s most profound, and sometimes terrifying, experiences and revelations happen when she is asleep. When she wakes from one of her vivid kind of dreams–the ones that seemed so real she could pick the strangers she dreamed about out in a crowd–she knows something big is likely to happen. She doesn’t always know what. Nor does she know when or how the truth behind her nightmares can be averted. All she knows is she has to try.

Mary is the protagonist and main point-of-view character of at least the first two of the Anti-Vampirism Society books I’m working on. (What was the first manuscript became so long, I recently decided I must split the first story into two books; I am now thinking about how to re-form them into separate stories in their own right–but that’s another subject.)

At a meeting earlier tonight, a fellow writer surprised me with a strong opinion that the use of dreams as plot devices is boring and takes away from the challenge that characters should face in a good story. It makes problems too easy for characters to solve, my friend said. She said that she was not the only one who believed this about dreams in fiction; a writing teacher had said the same. While I have been told many times by people in the publishing business never to start a story with a dream because it’s been done so many times as to be cliché (and hence I changed what was the original beginning of my first AVS book), the idea that prophetic dreams are anyone’s taboo is news to me. The possibility that anyone might reject my AVS stories because my main character has some guidance from dreams distresses me–not just because it’s so integral to the character and the plot, but also because such dreams are pretty important to my own life. Mary is like me in some ways, only more so, if you get my meaning. I sometimes have dreams that come true and fairly often have dreams that change and guide me. As I wrote in the section on how this series was birthed, the whole thing started with a vivid dream that ended with my telling a teenage friend, “I had this dream, and it’s a good idea for a story.” (It was the only dream that told me within itself that its purpose was to be made into a piece of writing.)

I crave feedback on this subject. Please tell me how you feel about dreams figuring into stories. Do you like them, not like them, feel indifferent about them? When do they work, and when do they not?

I am already endeavoring to make things more difficult and agonizing for my characters. (“Murder your darlings,” someone has said. “Think of the worst thing that can happen to your character, and then make it happen,” says another.) As I hone my plot, I increase the challenges they face. I don’t want Mary’s dreams to be something that always come easy or are easy to understand, or even to remember and hence find useful. Without giving too much of the plot away beforehand, I hope to get whatever help you can give me in this endeavor. I ask you, please, whatever your thoughts are on this subject, please post your comments and join the discussion. If it turns into a heated argument, so much the better. I want to hear all sides.

Not that I expect that I will throw out all the dreams from the stories. But if you think I should, by all means see if you can convince me. If we know each other personally, I may reveal more of the plot to you than I will to the public, and we can discuss the matter more in depth. I would love it if you would post here; just keep my plot secrets confidential, please. Thank you!

I thought of adding a poll, but at this point I cannot think of one that would not be too superficial. If you have any suggestions as to how a good poll on this subject could be worded, please suggest it. So far, I haven’t had many responses from polls on this blog.

Please invite anyone you know who might be interested in this discussion to take a look and pitch in.

 

For later discussion…

I thought some time ago of having a different discussion on this blog–the question of whether it’s okay for Christians to read or write fiction about vampires. Let me know if you would be interested in reading or joining such a discussion. The discussion would not be limited to Christians. I mention Christians here because I am one and know many who think there is something horribly wrong with such subject matter. I don’t recall anyone outside the faith that has raised such objections.

 

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And You Thought I’d Abandoned You? No Fear!

Carletta

Carletta

…And here she is! Flirting with someone, as usual… I originally planned to give her essentially the same background as Hugh’s picture (posted with his interview), as seated in the same restaurant booth with him (hence the pencil lines). However, those colors don’t go well with the background I made for the book cover, so I may paint the background plain gray. Or do it gray, scan it, and then go over it with the blue and leafy booth backgound, so I can have both to work with. This is but one example of one of the many things I have been doing since my last post in October. I have not meant to ignore you all. I have been working a lot on my novel, as well as doing other things in my life. I wrote four chapters, the novel’s premise, and most of the emotional character arcs to go with that premise. I’m still working on those of the last two main characters, Melanie and Alex. I haven’t mentioned them on this site. Setting up steps to obtain a long-range goal (in this case, finishing the first book in my AVS novel) and then scheduling deadlines to do each step and days to work on them, really help. One cost has been neglect of my two blogs (this one and my Goodreads one). Just wanted to let you know I haven’t abandoned you, friends. I am thinking of you and of this blog. Luke and Carletta haven’t yet revealed what they will say and do in the continuation of the interview I recorded in October–but then, I haven’t looked over the rest of the questions and thought about it, so I can’t put all the blame on them. Rest assured that Luke is cooking up more dastardly plans than we have yet seen. I haven’t had a lot of chance to look into those plans, partly because he doesn’t actually appear until the second book in the series, and I have been concentrating on the first. Bug me, and I will be more likely to get out the interview sooner.

She’s 16–She’s Beautiful–and She’s Deadly. Carletta answers 11 questions

If you live forever, or for thousands of years, and are difficult to kill, and are very strong and powerful… how do you not become a sociopath? And go off and start doing anything you want and acting on any impulse? Katya

C: I haven’t been alive that long. I’m just trying to survive right now. But listen, some people deserve to die. I’m doing a public service! 

Is it true you have to be an old vampire to fly or teleport (being one place, disappearing, and showing up wherever you want to)? Or, if you were turned by a very old, strong vampire, does that give you the ability to do those things like flying or teleport that other vampires do? Angela (demonsangel) Fitzgerald

C: I can’t fly. Wish I could. It’d be so much fun! I don’t teleport, either. I’m just fast, and strong, and stuff like that. Some vampires can astral project. Is that sort of what you mean? I don’t know if it’s so much a matter of age as it is what your familiar spirit is. Mine’s a cat. Kitty doesn’t fly . . . 

Do you find the idea of being undead – ‘living’ for ever, sleeping in a coffin, and so on – as horrifying as I do? Lucinda Elliot

C: Lady, I can’t read your mind (no matter what Anne Rice says), so I don’t know how horrifying you find those things. I think living forever would be a blast, if I can manage it. I don’t sleep in a coffin. Don’t you think it would look a little funny in my room? I sleep in my closet. Being in the dark doesn’t horrify me. And what’s the “and so on” you expect me to know?

What significance, if any, does gender identity and sexual (etc.) orientation have for vampires? Francis Franklin

C: I can’t speak for all vampires. For me, though, being straight and getting back at males for things they do has a lot to do with how I live and feed. I try not to kill females. But there’s always a first, if she gets in my way too much. And whoever you are, don’t cross me when I’m having my period! I call it TMS—through-menstrual syndrome—loss of blood and all, you know?

Are there other vampires, and if so what role does gender play in vampire society? Francis Franklin

C: Of course there are other vampires. Though it might be interesting to destroy all of them but me . . . Another gender question. I don’t know about vampire society, but I use a lot of power over males. I like to be in control. And they love it—until the torments begin!

What do you think of the recent fashion for vampire books and films? Has it made your life harder or easier? Georgiana Derwent

C: P-leeeease! There’s a dork at my school who wears a cape every day and he’s a total idiot! I’m tempted to eat him, but I don’t know if I could stomach touching him. As soon as you mentioned fashion, I thought of him. It’s ridiculous what people make up about us, but nice that some of them think we’re cool. It beats everybody following you with stakes, you know? But good grief, I don’t sparkle unless I’m wearing glitter nail polish, and really, I prefer just red. 

Can you be turned back to a human? Tyro Vogel

C: My mother has been trying to find a “cure” for years. She thinks being a vampire is some kind of a disease. Recently, a girl I know came up with the idea of making me a normal person again. She and a few of her friends—including the dumb dude with the cape—are trying to help my mom with it. They all drive me crazy, but it’s hard to be too mean to people who want to help you—though “Dorkula” would rather stake me in my non-existent coffin. I don’t know if there really is such thing as a cure.

Can you have sex the ‘traditional’ way? Do you have any desire for sex? Tyro Vogel

C: Sure. And I don’t care what’s traditional and what’s not. I’ve got my boyfriend crazy about me. But with most of the guys I start seducing, I don’t get too far until they’re a meal instead.

They say a vampire’s bite brings pleasure rather than pain. Is that true, and how is that even possible? Francis Franklin

C: It can bring either, or a combination, because our saliva has an anesthetic in it. If I bite fast, it can hurt a lot, but if I start with a long kiss, and you think it’s just a kiss, you’ll probably love it. I take advantage of the power of human belief. If you think you’re having a good time with an ordinary girl, you won’t know I’m a vampire at all. 

Do you believe in ‘true love’ and ‘soul mates’? Francis Franklin

C: I don’t know, they might exist for some people, vampire or human. Though I think it’s harder for us blood-sucking fiends. Like, when I’m snuggling up with my boyfriend, I get a really strong urge to drink from him, and if I got hungry enough, he’d be dead. Good-bye, “true love”! Hello, dinner!

Should humans tolerate the existence of vampires? Francis Franklin

C: Of course. What would you do if all the cows, chickens, turkeys, and pigs rebelled and tried to eliminate the human race? But then, some vampires, just like some humans, don’t deserve to live and should be eliminated.