Tag Archives: nightmares

15-Minute Monday

There’s a skunk that lives near my house. This Pepe wanders around close enough (do the have to be close?) to wake me EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

(Oh! I forgot to tell everyone I had a dream about the Property Brothers from HGTV the other night. Yes! The skunk woke me from that dream, too.)

Here is my normal night:

Go to sleep. Fall asleep quickly.

Have nightmare.

Wake up.



Fall asleep.

Toss and turn. Fitful dreams.

Wake up.


Go to the potty.

Look at the clock. 12:25.

Shake and repeat.

Almost all night long.

So when I get close to having a pleasant bit of dreamy time–Property Brothers Dreamy Time–and skunk arrives . . . .

Well, I think murderous thoughts. And you can see they’re justified.

This is EXACTLY like our characters. They need to do what they really would do. And they need to be groomed for it in the writing of our novels. If one MC would never jump out of a plane, but must by the end of the book, then you need her to be getting ready for it. If one character has a social anxiety and would never speak up, but must by the end of the novel, then you need them to be taking the baby steps that will get them to this change. If one lady wouldn’t normally think of bagging a wild animal and throwing that very animal next to her worse enemy’s house, then I better get a bag, a protective suit and nose plugs.

There’s hardly anything worse (in reading) (not including a stinking skunk) than getting to the end of a book and saying, “That character would have never done that. Ever.” This means the writer hasn’t done her work. There was no character growth. At least not in the right direction.

And you don’t want to be that writer, do you?


Didn’t think so.



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Filed under Character, CLW, writing process

No Phone or Internet Today

until right this second!
And I had a perfect post.
But it will lose something in the lateness-of-the-afternoon translation.

Dictionary.com says a dream is:

1.a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.
2.the sleeping state in which this occurs.
3.an object seen in a dream.
4.an involuntary vision occurring to a person when awake.
5.a vision voluntarily indulged in while awake; daydream; reverie.

So this morning I woke up from a vivid, full-color dream. (If I had posted this right away I would have remembered the details.)
In the dream my friend, Debbie, from Vermont College was stepping out on her husband.
And that’s about all I remember except there were two guys not unlike the karate chop I-love-technology brother in the Napoleon Dynamite movie–including his mustache on one of the fellows.

Earlier in the night I had a scary dream. So scary I cried out and woke a daughter.
It’s weird. When I have scary dreams, after I first wake up I feel all icy in my joints.
Then the icy feeling spreads to the rest of my body.
And I need a snuggler to snuggle me.
That means borrowing a daughter. Which I can do since I have several girls.

Once, a million (or so) years ago, I heard the amazing Louise Plummer (A Dance for Three, Finding Daddy) say (in a speech) that a writer should always include a dream in her novels. She probably meant his novels, too. But I’m going with the females on this. Anyway. When I heard her say this, it just so happened I was writing dreams in my books–but I had wondered if that was okay. A dream in each story? Sure! Why not! I thought Louise was quite wise. I still think she’s quite wise. She is also funny and beautiful and I’m happy she’s my friend. I love her. She just had a birthday. I have a birthday this month, too. That makes me and Louise practically twins.

We already know the rules about dreams in books: Don’t open with a dream. And don’t end the book with people waking up from a dream as though nothing really happened because–you know what I’m going to say–It was all a dream.
Here’s something else I think about dreams–they need to play a part in the novel. You can’t just throw a dream around and have it mean nothing. Every word must pay off. And that includes when a character has involuntary visions. No willy nilly (double adverb there) stuff.

Miles from Ordinary starts with a dream. The main character, Lacy, wakes up from a nightmare. But the book is a nightmare of sorts and so the dream pays off. And the book I’m working on, my DD? It’s full of dreams that are (hopefully) helping our main character Shiloh learn what she needs to know about her life.

Ann Edwards Cannon (The Losers Guide to Life and Love, The Great Chihuahua Race) does not have a birthday in September but is a writer who can do nearly anything with words. I adore her, too. Once she said (in a lecture) that we should keep a notebook and something to write with next to our beds. I believe she called that notebook a Dream Journal. Did you know if you write your dreams right when you wake up, you remember them better? Well, you do. So there.

My worst nightmare was about a house. Part of the house was evil. And I knew if I walked through the doors that had been sealed off, I would let the evil things out into the rest of the house. I remember the house had glass doorknobs. I’d love glass doorknobs in my house now.

When I was a kid I dreamed something I thought was hilarious. I walked down a street and I heard someone singing, “No school today. No school today.” The singer was super happy–joyful. When I finally caught up to him, I saw the singer was a fish. Get it? No school today?

What dreams have you had that would work in your novels?
What dreams could you add to help–or hinder–your main character?
Feel free to share any you’d like here. Even if it is 2:30 pm.

A final note–did you know that creative people are plagued with nightmares? That’s what I read somewhere and I believe it.


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