Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Story Dreaming

I've talked here before about my plot-dreaming or story-dreaming and thought you might like to see an example (italics below). For those unfamiliar with earlier posts on the subject, this is where my subconscious either does the heavy lifting on writing something I'm already working on, or on creating a new world for me to play in. I had one of the latter types of dreams last night (mostly this morning really).

I staggered out of bed as soon as I woke out of the middle of the dream and went straight to my laptop to write it down as soon as I could move. These are the only circumstances under which Laura will not send me back to bed when I'm as asleep as I was for this--staggering into walls, etc. I really like this particular idea and I might well turn it into a book after I write the 2-5 that are higher up the list. I'm going to bold the parts that I inserted as I was writing down the dream to make things make a touch more story sense. Everything else is exactly as I dreamed it. This is both the raw product of my unconscious mind and an unedited first draft chunk just as it came out this morning when I was still so incoherent I was running into things.

The Flake:

Cornflakes dipped in dark chocolate and piled together into a black tower a half mile tall (Actually flat stones, very nearly round with a finish like obsidian and feel like river rock, maybe ten inches across). Huge natural-looking/unnatural looking geological structure. Half is buried below the surface of the Earth. A ruined prince and his people have taken shelter there after a usurpation (evil sorcerer). It's on land he owned as Prince of something like Wales. As a boy he used to climb through the structure for hours and days on end. No one knows it like he does.

He and his remaining knights take shelter there, putting in a couple of gates at key points to make an impregnable fortress. Have held out for months when a night assault up from the roots takes them prisoner. Something like dwarf/troll hybrids (hated by everyone and nearly wiped out by prince's father) hired as mercenaries by the sorcerer. Turns out they can manipulate the flake (thought to be permanent/unbreakable) by use of special something or other because their ancestors built the tower.

The sorcerer arrives and kills most of the company and the dwarves, throws the prince and a few of his followers (+ betrothed) in the dungeon. In the absolute darkness the prince receives a gift from one of the dying trolls--key to his cell.

He slips out into the depths still without light and starts making his way by the sound of the wind that always blows through the structure as he used to as a boy. The different sound of the wind on people and stuff allows him to track upwind to find his followers as well as eventually to lead his band out into the night by an entrance down at the seaside. Eventually makes deal with trolls that will restore them to some of their rightful lands lift price on their head in exchange for their help.

An after-note on my sub/un-conscious mind. I know myself well enough to see from the title I gave this and the physical structure of the tower that this is at least partially inspired by a British candy bar type (the flake stuff is very like a bar I've had there a few times) and that in my dream I was literally wandering around inside the chocolate (it was a good dream). It was quite probably triggered by having a different types of chocolate (Legacy truffles) last night that in turn reminded me of our recent trip to Winnipeg where I had yet a third kind of chocolate (Aero) that I associate with Edinburgh and the flake stuff.

So, if you've ever wondered how I make this stuff up, there it is: weird dreams brought on by chocolate. Or, this story was brought on by the letters c-h-o-c...etc.

What about you all? Does your subconscious leave you presents in the night? Is chocolate really the source of creativity?


Anonymous said...

Fascinating peek at your process. Groovy fun plotline as well, with lots of opportunities for interesting tangents and novel character/world elements. I hope to be able to read the whole story someday.

I recently dreamt the opening scene for my wip, which is very atypical for me, but I'd been worrying the problem for a while and I guess my sleepymind was working it out. Usually I get the most useful free association stuff when I'm in water; bath, shower, swimming, whatever. Have no idea why, but my mind wanders far out in all directions and then rubberbands back effortlessly to sew things together in ways that do not happen when I'm dry.

Is chocolate really the source of creativity?

Heh, I attempted a little neurophilosophy years ago that used our neurochemical system's cannabinoid receptors and the cannabinoid substances found in chocolate as a kind-of a jumping off point; I was goofy about it and kept making Willy Wonka jokes but the theory [mostly] explored the possibility of cellular communication between/among human beings. The idea was solid but I'd have had to have spent another decade at uni to get the execution of a real paper about it right.

Kelly McCullough said...

The water stuff is interesting -- the way that we access the raw creative part of the brain is such a cool point of study. This is really the first time since I started blogging heavily that I've had such a pure stand alone example of what my brain does when I'm not driving, and I wanted to capture the moment.

It was a cool dream and I do hope I get to go back to it at some point. It's been forever since I had a high-fantasy idea that really appealed to me, and I flat loved the wandering in the dark part of the dream--who knows I meet even be a good enough writer to pull it off now. I see this as the first 3-5 chapters of good sized novel.

Larry Kollar said...

Fascinating, Kelly. I don't often get a dream sequence that turns into a story, but I have woken up with an idea before (i.e. dreamed & forgot the dream but remembered the idea).