10 Jun 2014

Dreaming my book, a guest post by Susan Daffron

A long time ago, I read that a popular novelist wrote down her dreams and turned them into books. Back then, I was a technical writer, and the concept seemed so far away from my writing reality, I couldn't imagine it ever happening to me.
However now many years later, it turns out it has. I actually have dreamed scenes from my books. So I can say that my answer to the perennial question here on the Fiction Dreams blog, "Do dreams ever inspire your writing?" is most definitely yes! Another writer called it "cheating" and maybe it is a little.
My first novel Chez Stinky took a while for me to write because although I'd written 12 books before, they weren't novels. However, I discovered that some writing tactics do cross over from nonfiction to fiction, at least for me.
The good thing about having written that many words is that I rarely get "writer's block." I'm what they call a "plotter" in the fiction-writing world. With nonfiction, you plot out all your chapters and topics. With fiction, you map out the story. Either way, you start with an outline. I got stuck writing the beginning of Chez Stinky because I didn't have the outline figured out yet. But once I did, everything started falling into place.
What I discovered is that unlike with nonfiction, when you write a novel, it's easy to get so absorbed in the story world you create that it permeates your psyche. In the case of Chez Stinky, I discovered that once I knew where the story was going, my mind was working on it all the time. Armed with a solid outline, I started to cruise. My writing speed increased dramatically and I wrote the end of the book in half the time it took to write the beginning.
When I was in the throes of that creative first draft, I started to dream scenes from the book. Needless to say, when I realized what was happening, I thought it was incredibly cool. It's particularly handy since I write in the morning. So I would dream the scene, then write it down the next morning.
With my second book, Fuzzy Logic I started trying to dream scenes intentionally. I attempted strategic dreaming, you might say. When I went to bed, I'd think about the upcoming scene I was going to write the next morning. My subconscious worked out some stuff and I dreamed about it. The next morning, I wrote it down.
For this technique to work, I do need to have a plot mapped out, know the characters, and have part of the story already written down. But when it works, it's a lot of fun. Apparently, Steven Spielberg once said that he "dreams for a living." Now I know what he was talking about.
Kat Stevens is a slightly insecure, mostly bored technical writer who likes her cat a lot more than her boss. She hasn't laid eyes on her great aunt Abigail since she was eight, so she's stumped when she inherits Abigail's house in the small hamlet of Alpine Grove.
Kat's uncomplicated life gets decidedly less so when she discovers the inheritance comes with some hairy conditions: four dogs and five cats that her aunt wanted her to love as her own. Of course, the house smells like a barn--with a touch of antique skunk--and, naturally, has serious roof issues. And that's before the three-legged cat gets stuck in the wall and the shower goes kablooey.
When Kat meets Joel, an unemployed techie type with no love lost for his sister, Kat looks past his obvious flaws, given his timely and desirable skill set: a talent for fixing things (and his own tools).
Despite out-of-control dogs, cat fights, dust dinosaurs, massive spiders and an old grizzled hippie passed out in the yard, Kat discovers the tranquility of the forests of Alpine Grove starting to seep into her soul.
And why she can't she stop thinking about Joel?

Susan Daffron is the author of one novel and 14 nonfiction books, including several about pet care and animal rescue. She lives in a small town in northernIdaho and shares her life with her husband, two dogs and a cat--the last three, all "rescues." Her latest book, Chez Stinky (www.ChezStinky.com) is the first of a series of romantic comedy novels that will feature the small town of Alpine Grove.
When she's not writing novels, Susan works as the president of Logical Expressions, Inc., a book and software publishing based company in Sandpoint, Idaho. 
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  1. Thank you for participating in my book tour today!

  2. Susie--I agree with your technique! Ah, those vivid dreams! The other night I dreamed a poem, got up and sketched it out with the ending and title. The only problem was that I left out the middle. Gotta work on that!--Aunt Nancy


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