It’s funny, what comforts a person.
For instance, Big Bopper loves napping on the couch to the sounds of cartoons.
Bottled Lightning loves silence.
BoyWonder likes to sit around the dining room table with his family and talk, after a big meal.
Freckles McYoungest loves a stormy afternoon, curled up with a book.
I like wind…
An unremitting sea breeze on the beach.
An afternoon gust that cools the porch and blasts away the mosquitoes on a summer evening.
I wonder if it’s because the first house I lived in, situated in a coastal town, had no air conditioning. But every room had windows designed to catch a cross-breeze.
Or, could be I’m just weird.
As writers, though, it’s interesting to think about what would comfort the characters we invent. For instance, there are times that I get a whiff of stale oil and hot engine parts, and maybe a little pee, which reminds me of the Paris Metro. Would that be a comforting smell to someone raised there? Maybe a character loves raking leaves because it reminds him of New England and maple syrup and red flannel shirts—and home?
I dunno. I ponder these things, when I write characters.
Hope I’m not weird.
I already failed to uphold my vow to blog Monday, Wednesday and Friday during May.
SO SUE ME.
I fell asleep last night with my laptop upon me, my fingers poised above the keys.
Fine. Don’t sympathize.
Instead, let’s talk about dreams.
There’s nothing more fascinating in this world than your own dreams, and nothing more boring than the dreams of others. That’s why agents and editors want to scream/pull out your hair/give up not drinking when they get a manuscript that starts with the main character’s dream.
Really. It’s lazy.
Think about what you’re trying to do with that dream:
- Is it amusing filler? HECK. You’re not supposed to “fill” your book with anything! Every scene in your novel needs to move the story forward.
- Does the dream foreshadow something? Do your foreshadowing with offhand comments between characters or bring in minor incidents that will turn out to be major incidents, later.
- Is the dream revealing something in your protagonist’s character? Use one of your other tools: dialogue, action, internal monologue, plot, description, voice–etc., instead.
- Are you using the dream to dump backstory? Wow, lazybones. Backstory has to spool out slowly throughout your novel.
When I read a book with a dream sequence, I usually skim through it as quickly as possible.
Have you ever read a dream that was so fascinating you thought it was integral to the book?
Vivian Mahoney has a BRAIN BOX OF ENORMOUS PROPORTIONS. She ran this little contest on her blog. All one had to do to enter was make a comment about Plot.
Well, you know me.
Comments, I’ve got. A-plenty.
I AM THE LUCKY WINNAH!
The sun is out and the piles of snow are bleach-bright. My brain hums like 10,000 bees banging around between a window and a screen, unable to find that dang little hole they crawled in.
Time for a writerly tip.
Do not over-rely on your thesaurus.
You can’t type in a word and simply choose anything from the list that pops up to insert into your WIP. Have more respect for your tools. Every word in the English language has color and nuance.
Which leads me to the pet peeve portion of our program.
Responsibility is a big word for me. I never let my kids shirk it. I can’t stand it when parents don’t make their children shoulder it. It infuriates me when adults run away from it. I have often carried way more than my fair share of it. If you go here:
you will get this:
But not all of those words actually mean “responsibility”. Some of the words are close, and some are only related.
One of these words that people use interchangeably with “responsibility” is “fault”.
They are not the same thing.
When a calamity happens, you don’t always have to point a finger and figure out whose fault it is. Grind them into the dirt. MAKE THEM BLEED.
For God’s sake, people. Sometimes poop happens. Let the pooper man up, take responsibility, and get on with life.
Fault only matters if there’s an earthquake.