Amusing Dreams

I had what I think of as my Water World dream last night.

It’s one of my standard dreams – you know the familiar ones you repeat over and over. Like the being on stage and not knowing your lines one. Or taking the final exam without ever having gone to class. Or being naked in public except for some feathers and a beak.

What, you don’t have that one?

At any rate, Water World is a water park in Denver. No, this has nothing to do with Kevin Costner. It’s one of my very favorite places to go, though I haven’t been in the last couple of years. I love riding the donut tubes down all the different swirly slides. It makes me feel like a kid again, to spend the day in my swimsuit. At the end of the day, my hair is wet and snarled, I’m sun-baked and water-soaked, deliciously exhausted.

Damn, now I want to go!

My Water World dream is one of those “going there but never quite making it” dreams. It’s not a a bad or frustrating dream. We just spend the day going through the admissions turnstile and getting different color wristbands. We get distracted and have to go save people or find treasure. We spend a lot of time in the parking lot, seeing the rides from a distance. Elements from Elitch Gardens, the amusement park of my youth, which has since been relocated and transformed into a Six Flags conglomeration, find their way in. The giant rise of the wooden roller-coaster always figures prominently.

It’s actually a fun dream, full of the anticipation of arriving. I’m eternally poised to have the best day ever. It’s also familiar and, in an odd way, comforting. It’s part of who I am. The sum of so many experiences.

These are the kinds of qualities it’s difficult to give characters. Someone recently told me that common wisdom is that novels about dreams rarely work well, because dreams inherently have no structure, which gives the story a “mushy” feel.

I can totally see that.

In fact, one of the “rules” writers like to cite is that you should never have dream sequences. That editors hate them. I suspect this is the “mushiness” coming into play. Usually if a character has a recurring dream, it’s a nightmare, as JD Robb’s heroine, Eve, experiences. Of course, she has the marvelous latitude of an ongoing series to use that dream as a theme, a device that reveals where Eve is emotionally.

Now I totally want to do something like this. Damn the rules – full speed ahead!

3 Replies to “Amusing Dreams”

  1. You can break any writing "rule" you want to, as long as you can make it work. (That's what I tell myself, anyway.)

  2. One of my very favorite dream sequences in a story telling venue is from a video game, Max Payne. Dream sequences in video games are at least as prone to pitfalls of mushiness as their manuscript counterparts, but this one really worked to build both atmosphere and character, I think. So it can be done, is my point, I guess. And if you can pull it off, the reward is commensurate to the risk.

    I miss Water World, too. I blame Steve. He and his birthday posse chose Elitch's this year.

  3. I totally agree, Linda. The proof is in the pudding!

    That's very interesting to know, Kev. And fie on Elitch's!

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