Tuesday, March 8, 2011

dreaming in dialogue...writing woes in the wee hours

Happy for percolating...coffee and ideas!
For about an hour this morning, as I was trying to wrangle a little more sleep before the alarm went off and catapulted me into my somewhat waking life, my brain decided that I needed some writing lessons--specifically, writing dialogue.

I had a creative writing teacher once who said that all (interesting) dialogue is an argument--the interaction serves as a way for each of the characters to make his/her point.  Somehow, the characters need to be coming at the conversation from slightly different angles, and then they duke it out until they agree.  Or until the killer jumps out from the bushes.  Or the world ends.  Or they start kissing, I don't know.

In any case, in my dream, I had to write the scene I had been working on before I fell asleep last night, a scene that has been giving me a wee bit of trouble for some time (or...just possibly, one scene in a long string of scenes that have been tormenting me and filling me with paralyzing and agonizing waves of self-doubt about my worth as a writer and indeed as a human being...but anyway, that's not relevant), and instead of allowing me to wallow about in a restful sleep, my brain kept putting me through these dialogue exercises.

Okay, said my brain, or some cruel dream-time taskmaster, write the scene except Darin doesn't believe anything that Cass says.

And in my sleep, I did it.  I held it up, shiny and perfect.  "NOW can I sleep, please?"

Now write the scene except Darin doesn't believe anything Cass says, BUT he doesn't want her to know that he doesn't believe her.

I mean, sure, I can do that.  Dream-writing elissa writes in her dream.  Sleep now?

Now write the scene except Darin doesn't believe her, he doesn't want her to know, but she suspects that he doesn't believe her and not only does this make her angry but it reminds her of the way her brother spoke to her earlier that day and she realizes, with suprise, that he didn't believe her either.

Yikes.  Okay...dreambrain working working working...the alarm ticking on toward an abrupt and painfully noisy conclusion...YES! There! Perfect!  Dream-writing elissa feels a bit smug.  A bit...genius.

Now make her start to doubt herself, but hide that from him.


Now make her hide that from herself.

Arghhhhh!  The alarm sounds.  Groggy elissa swims up out of the murky waters of dialogue exercises, disappointed that she didn't actually write all those perfect conversations in real life...maybe it's enough that she did it in her dreams.



simmone said...

that sounds good - can you send your dream brain to teach my dream brain these v. useful exercises?

Vee said...

That's a really interesting concept -- the all dialogue is an argument thing. Must remember this in my next lot of revisions!

Also. I totally write stuff in my head when I'm meant to be sleeping. And it's always a million times better in my head than it is when I actually write them. Why is my dream brain better than my waking one?? Haha :)

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Oh geez, you sound like me. My brain won't shut down when I want it to and I end up staying awake wrestling with my characters until the wee hours:) good post - new follower

Elissa J. Hoole said...

simmone, if I ever get some sleep, I'll be sure to send my brain down under. except, wait. we probably don't sleep at the same time...

Vee, for years now I've been looking at all my dialogue through that lens, and it's interesting, even if it doesn't *always* quite work. But like an argument, in most dialogue, people aren't doing a great job LISTENING...instead they're kind of doing some sort of parallel thing, each with their own point, so I like thinking of it that way...

Welcome, Lindsay! Thanks for the comment. :) I go through long periods of feeling like a captive to my active brain at night. Maybe when I finish this revision, things will settle down again. :)

Christine Tyler said...

Oh my goodness--this is far worse than waking up and realizing you haven't yet brushed your teeth and gone to work.

I wanted to reply directly to your comment yesterday, but it looks like my site is going through some growing pains as well...bah.

I don't think all writers have to write a blog on writing tips or current events or anything in particular. That's just what I was on the hunt for last night. Lol, it's not a moral dilemma about what's right or wrong to post. I also have a few housewifey-journal-blogs that I love, but I usually only follow those when I know the person.

So yeah, I'd say the comments about text color and music go for just about everyone, but by all means, blog what you love. You're an authority on what you love.

Elissa J. Hoole said...

aw, thanks for taking the time to stop by--I guess it's not so much a moral dilemma as a case of identity crisis. I *know* I'm not going to enjoy or feel competent putting out posts that tell people how to write, but I certainly don't want to be a "boring" type blog...the journal entry style that only people who know me want to read.

I know that what I enjoy doing is telling stories...I guess I'm trying to make it so that my stories have a point that is moderately enlightening to my fellow writers. :)

Faith E. Hough said...

I love the dialogue/argument "theory"--it's so true. Thanks for posting!
I'm glad I found you, and good luck with your book coming out next year!!

Aleeza said...

so glad i stopped by your blog-kiss the morning star sounds kickass! a new-adult book with a roadtrip? hell. yes.
anyway, you deff have a very overactive brain. embarassingly enough, my brain went on overdrive during my math exams. i literally solved whole trig problems and even remembered them when i woke up. it was a scary time, it was. at least i got an A in the final exams, heh. :D

Elissa J. Hoole said...

Faith, thanks! and welcome to my blog!

Aleeza, yayyy KtMS love! and whoa, I'm pretty sure doing math in my dreams would stress me out way more than writing dialogue! :)

Jen said...

wow, all dialogue an argument. I think I'm going to remember that forever. Just like attenDANCE! ;)