Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Dream Sequence: Not a Fan

Are there any techniques used in writing (any form of entertainment) that just get under your skin? For me it's the dream sequence. The last few books I have read were all fantastic, but they all also had the dreaded dream sequence. [Which is why this is fresh in my mind. :)]

Filler Dreams

I usually have a strong urge to skip over dreams because (unless the bad guy is wearing a christmas sweater and has knives for fingers) the events aren't even real.

Fake Suspense

The action picks up, characters become badass, events are spectacular, my adrenaline starts pumping, and then the character wakes up... *facepalm*. I hate that. I'm a suspense junkie.  Give it to me, but give it to me FOR REAL.

Wishful Thinking

We've all heard it. "Maybe he was just dreaming." The internet was all a buzz following the unforgettable season 4 finale of Dexter. People said it. Maybe next season it will have all been a dream. The writers came out immediately saying it was not a dream. Yes, let's squash that right where it started. I gave my mom all of the seasons of Dexter for Christmas. (Aww.  The loving gift of serial killer awesomeness.) She watched them all with my grandma.  They called me immediately - "We have to know. Was he dreaming?"  Seriously? Because you would be OK with that...

Cop Out

The "he was only dreaming" is such an easy cop out. Do you remember how many times you heard that theory for LOST? Someone was dreaming about the island? Well, shoot, you can do *anything* in a dream. You don't even need a plot.

The Cure for Amnesia

If you need your character to remember something, please don't have them dream it. I have dreams that mean stuff. Alligators eat me when I'm stressed. I've never dreamed real events like a home video, though. My friends never say "Man, I had this crazy dream last night. I relived the time that I..."


Dreams as dreams are fine. Your fevered character can be wracked with nightmares. A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dreamscape... all good stuff. Just don't use a dream to create temporary (and fake) suspense and please don't use a dream to explain something away. It feels cheap.

Do you have a problem with the dream sequence?


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