Saturday night I dreamt that I was taking a literature class, and an elderly professor was telling me about a promising new novel that was about to come out. She instructed the class, “I’d like you all to take a look at this novel: read through the dialog, both the outer dialog and inner dialog, and strip away all hints of the setting and context, the time and place of the story.
“Then, look at the content of the dialog, its philosophical underpinnings, and consider the source, the characters that it is coming from.
“Tell me then if you think that their words are true—both true in an eternal sense or true to the nature and beliefs of the character who speaks the words.
“Only then can you decide whether the book is timeless, merely timely, or perhaps even time-worn.”
Well, I thought, how am I supposed to critique a book that hasn’t been released? And even if I could, what would be the point?
The characters have to exist within their own context, their own time and place. So the philosophical underpinnings can’t always be timeless.
The only reason to do such an assignment would be to appeal to the critic’s own vanity. The critic might feel smug and superior and smart, only because he or she had done this simple exercise.
I woke up from my dream and got to thinking about it. I realized immediately that I was dreaming about my own work. I’m preparing to work on a big novel for NaNoWriMo, and I want the book to be timeless.
I also realized that I had to do this exercise, to critique my novel in a new way.
I wondered if Shakespeare had ever looked at his plays this way, and I suspect that he certainly did, at least with many of his best plays from later in his career—things like “The Tempest,” “Macbeth,” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Of course, the old literature professor is most likely a product of my imagination, bubbling up out of my subconscious to pester me in my dreams. Now that I think about it, I’ve dreamt of her before a time or two.
Many times at night, if I am plotting a scene, I will dream about it. I may dream that I am in a scene, living through it; or sometimes I dream that I am watching it. On other occasions, I dream that I’m reading my own finished book and I can see the scene on the page. But having an instructor lecture me on writing techniques is something new to me.
Scenes seem to be “gifted to me” at times, be several different methods.
Always pay attention to those dreams and inner voices. It’s just your subconscious mind prepping the way for you to work on your next scene. If you allow it to run free, you’ll find that your work will go much faster and will probably be much more profound and original than what you normally write.
Get access to the audited versions of Dave’s online workshops and receive copies of his writing books, all for a special price. These materials would normally cost more than $1800, but for this sale only you can get them all for the low price of $89. This year’s bundle includes new items, including a guide to publishing in 2020 that will be helpful whether you want to take the traditional route or go Indie.
You’ll get one-year access to all material in these workshops, meaning you can work through courses at whatever speed you like, and even complete assignments alongside friends and writing groups.
You can find it on his website at MyStoryDoctor.com here: https://mystorydoctor.com/online-workshops/
Want to learn how to get writing fast and stay in creative focus? In this workshops we’ll help you resolve the most common reasons that people face writers’ block and give you some exercises to get you writing again. This workshop is $99 and will be on November 16th 2019 in Provo. If Provo is too far for a one day trip, the workshop is going be recorded live on Zoom. That way you can attend the workshop from the comfort of your own home.
This workshop can be found on Dave’s website at MyStoryDoctor.com.