Things That Go Bump…(10/11)

Yesterday I had written myself to a milestone in the story. It was a point I had been looking forward to from the very start of this project, and one that I had a million and one ideas for, but wanted to do so with a fresh mind, and a fresh perspective.  I had finished with the real part of the chapter, and was preparing myself to travel into a realm far more abstract, surreal and downright scary…

Okay, fine – one of the characters falls asleep. Doesn’t sound so good when I put it like that, does it?

Dreams are one of those subjective things. We can’t share them with others, not in the way we experience them, and what is a pleasant dream for one is not necessarily a pleasant dream for another. (Those dreams you have about running an ice-cream shop? I can’t eat ice-cream. Imagine how horrible dreaming about an unrewarding, unsatisfying job like that would be for me!) So I set about crafting a dream that I needed, for narrative purposes. This dream is very much a sequence of scenes that I’m doing mostly without dialogue, and in a purely mechanical sense. Get Character A from Point B to Point C, and so on. That was my first, done-in-six-sentences pass.

The next pass was to bulk up the imagery and ideas – it was time to build the dreamscape! Dreams are wonderful, in that they let the impossible sit side-by-side, and provide for settings or combinations that would otherwise never appear anywhere in storytelling. This is fun, and it really lets you cut loose and put all kinds of imagery and sub-text into some very interesting places. And then…then I reached the tricky bit where I tweak and yank at the writing until it develops a voice, and a pacing that serve simply to unsettle.

How is this done? Not really sure. Scary dreams (or Nightmares, whatever), are like I said up above about dreams in general – everyone’s “scare” is a subjective thing. What unsettles me may do nothing for you. So I focused more on the tone, and the storytelling. The best analogy I have for this, is that ghost stories around the campfire may have had different levels of impact on you when you were a kid, but the thing that all the good ones had in common was not so much machetes in the dark, but the delivery.

Tonight I was working on the delivery. And let me tell you, it’s a lot harder typing when you’re having to shine a torch on your face from under your chin.

End of Day Word Count: 15,976. (And he was never heard from again…)

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~ by nick on November 10, 2013.

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