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Dream Power

Help with plot needed

Suiting others, by suiting yourself first.

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Paul Whybrow

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I previously posted a thread about finding inspiration in dreams, and it continues to happen.

When working on a new story I follow Thomas Edison's advice:

Never go to sleep without an appeal to your subconscious.


As I'm dropping off each night, I think of where I finished writing to act as a springboard into ideas about where to go next as I snore away.

Recently, I've immersed myself in 1868 America, the Era of Reconstruction when the country was trying to rebuild itself after the Civil War. The form of the story is of necessity linear, as my protagonist Art, a shelled-shocked Union army cavalry officer journeys from the Appalachian mountains to his sister's plantation in Georgia.

He encounters various travellers on the trail and is pursued by a homicidal madman, a former Confederate raider who is continuing the war. Bolt is the evilest character I've created. Struck by lightning at the Battle of Ox Hill, which took place in a storm, his brain was thrown out of whack. I've been tapping into the Gothic atmosphere of the Appalachians, and I wanted there to be some biblical elements and references to what it means to have a soul.

I've already had Art encounter a group of Quaker pilgrims and intended to bring the pastor back as Art's saviour when he gets captured and tortured by Bolt, but was casting around for a way of enabling this pacifist to commit a violent act. I may turn to an idea I had where the pastor releases the lock on a canal or a sluice gate or damages a beaver dam—which unleashes a torrent of water that sweeps the bad guy to his doom. That could work, but I wanted some other holy power, some extra pestilence, and my weird brain made a suggestion.

As has happened many times before, my sleeping grey cells threw up an idea. You know how sometimes you have strange dreams that appear to have oblique significance? Well, just before I was due to wake, I suddenly went into a dream debate about statins. I'd seen a story about them somewhere but hadn't read it, yet in the dream, I was arguing with someone about the use of statins in punctuating sentences. :confused:My rival, (presumably me as well), kept saying that statins were drugs that lowered cholesterol, not punctuation marks!

I was getting pissed-off with this illogical debate when the image of a giant, shiny, black and yellow hornet laid itself across my dream screen. It wasn't threatening and looked like an illustration from an insect identification field-guide. I woke myself, and as I started the day wondered why I'd dreamt about a hornet—it seemed to be important in some way—then, I remembered my story. So, Bolt is going to put his foot in a hornet's nest, running to the river to wash them off, only to be swept away. I may impale him on a branch in a crucifix way, adding to the sense of divine retribution. I like being God!

Thanks, brain. It's good that you work sometimes....

I'm on the lookout for an affordable copy of Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth, by Robert A. Johnson.

Have any of you had dreams that were inspiring—nocturnal eureka moments—that helped you with plot development?

Hornet-1.jpg
 

Robinne Weiss

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He wouldn't even need the river. Anaphylaxis could do the trick. I've stepped in yellowjacket nests before and it is seriously not fun. Thankfully, it happened before I developed a severe allergy to hymenopteran stings, or I wouldn't be around to tell the tale.
 

Sea-shore

aka Anne Chen
LV
0
 
I previously posted a thread about finding inspiration in dreams, and it continues to happen.

When working on a new story I follow Thomas Edison's advice:

Never go to sleep without an appeal to your subconscious.


As I'm dropping off each night, I think of where I finished writing to act as a springboard into ideas about where to go next as I snore away.

Recently, I've immersed myself in 1868 America, the Era of Reconstruction when the country was trying to rebuild itself after the Civil War. The form of the story is of necessity linear, as my protagonist Art, a shelled-shocked Union army cavalry officer journeys from the Appalachian mountains to his sister's plantation in Georgia.

He encounters various travellers on the trail and is pursued by a homicidal madman, a former Confederate raider who is continuing the war. Bolt is the evilest character I've created. Struck by lightning at the Battle of Ox Hill, which took place in a storm, his brain was thrown out of whack. I've been tapping into the Gothic atmosphere of the Appalachians, and I wanted there to be some biblical elements and references to what it means to have a soul.

I've already had Art encounter a group of Quaker pilgrims and intended to bring the pastor back as Art's saviour when he gets captured and tortured by Bolt, but was casting around for a way of enabling this pacifist to commit a violent act. I may turn to an idea I had where the pastor releases the lock on a canal or a sluice gate or damages a beaver dam—which unleashes a torrent of water that sweeps the bad guy to his doom. That could work, but I wanted some other holy power, some extra pestilence, and my weird brain made a suggestion.

As has happened many times before, my sleeping grey cells threw up an idea. You know how sometimes you have strange dreams that appear to have oblique significance? Well, just before I was due to wake, I suddenly went into a dream debate about statins. I'd seen a story about them somewhere but hadn't read it, yet in the dream, I was arguing with someone about the use of statins in punctuating sentences. :confused:My rival, (presumably me as well), kept saying that statins were drugs that lowered cholesterol, not punctuation marks!

I was getting pissed-off with this illogical debate when the image of a giant, shiny, black and yellow hornet laid itself across my dream screen. It wasn't threatening and looked like an illustration from an insect identification field-guide. I woke myself, and as I started the day wondered why I'd dreamt about a hornet—it seemed to be important in some way—then, I remembered my story. So, Bolt is going to put his foot in a hornet's nest, running to the river to wash them off, only to be swept away. I may impale him on a branch in a crucifix way, adding to the sense of divine retribution. I like being God!

Thanks, brain. It's good that you work sometimes....

I'm on the lookout for an affordable copy of Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth, by Robert A. Johnson.

Have any of you had dreams that were inspiring—nocturnal eureka moments—that helped you with plot development?

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

 

MaryA

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@Paul Whybrow, I read Robert A Johnson's The Fisher King and The Handless Maiden years ago and loved his Jungian take on older myths. He did something too on Tristan and Yseult that I liked, looking closely at what is flawed or doomed in the 'romantic love' myth. Jung's work on the wounded Shadow and the imagination was a theme I also explored in Marion Woodman and the writings of Marie-Louise Von Franz. It helped me work out what I wanted to do with writing and what I was actually doing, what deep soulful conflicts I was trying to resolve in poetry, fiction or painting.

Marie-Louise Von Franz once said: 'Treat your dreams like lovers.'

When I was exploring therapy, I would make a note of what I was puzzling over just before I went to sleep and see what my dreams turned up. I do the same thing when I get stuck or 'lost' in what I'm writing.

I love the way you could interpret the symbolism of your dream so creatively! I can just see bad Bolt pursued by hornets to the river, becoming an Odin/Christ figure.
 

Andrew Okey

Basic
LV
0
 
I previously posted a thread about finding inspiration in dreams, and it continues to happen.

When working on a new story I follow Thomas Edison's advice:

Never go to sleep without an appeal to your subconscious.


As I'm dropping off each night, I think of where I finished writing to act as a springboard into ideas about where to go next as I snore away.

Recently, I've immersed myself in 1868 America, the Era of Reconstruction when the country was trying to rebuild itself after the Civil War. The form of the story is of necessity linear, as my protagonist Art, a shelled-shocked Union army cavalry officer journeys from the Appalachian mountains to his sister's plantation in Georgia.

He encounters various travellers on the trail and is pursued by a homicidal madman, a former Confederate raider who is continuing the war. Bolt is the evilest character I've created. Struck by lightning at the Battle of Ox Hill, which took place in a storm, his brain was thrown out of whack. I've been tapping into the Gothic atmosphere of the Appalachians, and I wanted there to be some biblical elements and references to what it means to have a soul.

I've already had Art encounter a group of Quaker pilgrims and intended to bring the pastor back as Art's saviour when he gets captured and tortured by Bolt, but was casting around for a way of enabling this pacifist to commit a violent act. I may turn to an idea I had where the pastor releases the lock on a canal or a sluice gate or damages a beaver dam—which unleashes a torrent of water that sweeps the bad guy to his doom. That could work, but I wanted some other holy power, some extra pestilence, and my weird brain made a suggestion.

As has happened many times before, my sleeping grey cells threw up an idea. You know how sometimes you have strange dreams that appear to have oblique significance? Well, just before I was due to wake, I suddenly went into a dream debate about statins. I'd seen a story about them somewhere but hadn't read it, yet in the dream, I was arguing with someone about the use of statins in punctuating sentences. :confused:My rival, (presumably me as well), kept saying that statins were drugs that lowered cholesterol, not punctuation marks!

I was getting pissed-off with this illogical debate when the image of a giant, shiny, black and yellow hornet laid itself across my dream screen. It wasn't threatening and looked like an illustration from an insect identification field-guide. I woke myself, and as I started the day wondered why I'd dreamt about a hornet—it seemed to be important in some way—then, I remembered my story. So, Bolt is going to put his foot in a hornet's nest, running to the river to wash them off, only to be swept away. I may impale him on a branch in a crucifix way, adding to the sense of divine retribution. I like being God!

Thanks, brain. It's good that you work sometimes....

I'm on the lookout for an affordable copy of Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth, by Robert A. Johnson.

Have any of you had dreams that were inspiring—nocturnal eureka moments—that helped you with plot development?

Hornet-1.jpg


I love the idea of appealing to one's subconscious before sleeping, though with mine I'm not always sure I want to go there! When I was younger (and mostly not very happy with myself) I had regular, horribly violent, full dream narratives that made sense, albeit not in a good way. Though I can remember most of these, they're not going anywhere near my writing, except I have a piece of speculative fiction planned that could certainly use an especially nasty plague that I dreamed up once. But I'm not going to share the details because you'd all want a restraining order on me.

(Marginally) more happily, I am trying to work out how to use the following dream (from a rather lovely holiday in Greece a while back). In a vaguely medieval kingdom two brothers have been imprisoned in a wooden stockade for stealing a horse. They write to their mother, who is a witch, asking her help to escape before they have served their time. So she concocts three potions. The first will, when drunk, allow them (just once) to walk through a wall. The second will turn them into plants as soon as they step into woodland, so that they are not recognisable to their captors. She sends these two to her imprisoned sons, but retains the third, which will restore them to human form.

The brothers drink the first two potions, and step straight through the stockade walls but they haven't realised that the stockade is within a wood, so they instantly transform into ferns, growing against the outside wall of the stockade. So now they are plants, but they are entirely aware of their condition, their predicament (weirdly, they still have eyes). Their mother searches for them, potion at the ready, but doesn't realise they will be at the stockade itself and never finds them. The years pass, their mother dies, the stockade falls into disuse, its walls crumble away until all that is left is the wall to which the older brother is still attached. It is only then that I realise that he has lived all those lonely desperate centuries attached to that one surviving piece of stockade, 'planted' so that he is looking straight upwards at a section of wall that is surmounted by a statue of Justice....
 

Katie-Ellen

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He wouldn't even need the river. Anaphylaxis could do the trick. I've stepped in yellowjacket nests before and it is seriously not fun. Thankfully, it happened before I developed a severe allergy to hymenopteran stings, or I wouldn't be around to tell the tale.

Maybe it was how you developed that allergy. It happened to me, face down in a wasps nest on a mountain side. 18 months later...first signs of auto-immune arthritis, but there could have been any of a whole raft of systemic responses.

I wonder if maybe Paul was reminding himself to read up on that story about statins. His brain hijacked the dream to remind him. Some doctor wanted to give statins to the spouse, but I gave spouse lots of celery...bought it in capsule form too, to up the dosage, and it brought the cholesterol down to normal within about 3 weeks. Good. I didn't want him taking statins. Beetroot might do that job just as well, but ...the sugar!
 

MaryA

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Bumping up this thread because I read a piece in the Guardian just now about how Nabokov was influenced by philosopher John Dunne's An Experiment with Time (a favourite of mine in my 20s) and recorded his dreams in search of 'backwards time flow' and premonitions.

Nabokov and dreams

I've love to smuggle this topic into a Weird story, but have always wondered if premonitions in dreams might more common than we realise. Anyone else wonder about that?
 

Katie-Ellen

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I began learning divination;cards, runes etc because of dreams of precognition...to try and understand more about them, and to see if I could train that part of the mind to respond on conscious request. I think it's very common, just that people often forget their dreams, to notice it at work.
 
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Help with plot needed

Suiting others, by suiting yourself first.

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