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Deconstructing Dreamscapes
Jess Wynne

‘I woke up and it was all a dream’ - take your snappy opening line and attach it to a genre. Use the connotations associated with the line as the basis for the story. The opposition between reality and fantasy is an obvious direction in this case. Take a vivid dream, adapt it, and you may well find you have the perfect premise for a sci fi or horror story. (Unless of course you regularly dream in costume drama mode, in which case prepare for a bad case of imagination-ache in you’re attempts to write compelling, attention holding fiction.) See below for an example of how a story evolves from a dream.

Story A

A girl awakes from a dream concerning the end of the world. Relate the main events of the dream; do so in the first person to add the immediacy that is so popular in modern writing.‘I woke up and it was all a dream’. Relief flooded through me as I lay listening to the reassuring rhythm of my boyfriend’s breathing. The memory of the dream had not yet began to dissolve; the images remained vivid, dancing in my mind. That amazing ability of the dream world to provide certainties and no need or desire for explanations. No reason need apply. The world will end in half an hour or so – the exact amount of time left is inconsequential. I don’t know why all existence is soon to cease; it seems to be due to the actions or the appearance of that box/spaceship/space station thing that everyone keeps pointing at. The animals are all gone. (Here the plot is weak; the result of utilising the dreams of an unscientific mind. This can be fixed later with a bit of research and reference to Star Trek or could be left ambiguous to make the reader feel clever for his/her interest in surreal incomprehensibility.) When the population first became aware of the circumstances they took to the streets panic stricken, but perhaps also feeling freer than ever before, smashing everything in sight and stealing everything they desired. Now the streets are deserted, numb acceptance is the current response. I am disturbed nevertheless by the ugliness surrounding me and the realisation that consumerism and destruction are such strong human drives. (For some reason adjectives beginning with ‘d’ are particularly effective in conjuring up dystopic landscapes – litter your vision with liberal helpings of diction such as ‘desolation’, ‘destruction’, ‘disarray’, ‘deprivation’ and ‘depravation’). I wandered into a wardrobe, choose the clothes I wanted to die in. I met with my boyfriend, told him I loved him and we sat beneath an olive tree with my family and waited for the world to end. However, the bare remnants of a dream rarely make compulsive reading – only the self-absorbed believe that their dreams are truly fascinating to anyone but themselves. Also dreams have a tendency to lack shape and structure. To improve the short story, incorporate a twist, a sting in the tale. See story B.

Story B

A girl awakes from a dream concerning the end of the world and turns to her boyfriend to describe it. They are quietly horrified to realise they have both had precisely the same dream. It could then be implied that they have had a premonition rather than a dream and that therefore the world will actually end. Or the ending could be left without closure – this will add a post-modern touch to the piece. If this seems rather vague and Ray Bradburyish, try C. A simple reversal of reality and fantasy should suffice
to sharpen up the narrative and catch the reader’s attention.

Story C

A girl awakes from a dream of domesticity, college work, healthy eating and regular exercise to a desecrated landscape of a world in its death throes. If you feel the story would benefit from humour enlist the "Dallas" method: create a reality then completely annihilate it by denouncing it as a dream. Then proceed to present a new reality in a manner that is oblivious to all inconsistencies. The more implausible and nonsensical the better.

Story D

A girl awakes from a dream of domesticity…. She turns to her boyfriend, a green, furry, bug-eyed monster and the reader discovers that she too is a green, furry, bug-eyed monster. They go to sit under a pink talking tree with their green monster family and wait for the world to end. If you desire accolades and media attention then be as stylistically outrageous and convoluted as possible. Remember if the New York Times’ critic can not read past the first page then he/she will be duty bound to declare it a ‘dazzling, virtuoso performance of style and content. A modern classic’. Therefore attempt to induce an epileptic fit in your reader by annoyingly jumping from one incomplete episode to another. Juxtapose pieces of dialogue from different scenes to deliberately confuse or ‘highlight crucial underlying themes’ as it is known in literary circles. Remember to include flashbacks but make sure it is not apparent where they fit chronologically or whose viewpoint they provide. Use below as a basic structure than add further complications.

Story E

World ends.
Descriptions of a girl’s daily routine, college work she has to do, juxtaposed with a conversation between two green furry monsters talking about the world ending, what they should do, whether they have remembered to turn the gas off etc.
Flashback to a happy time – the monster’s childhood or the girl’s?
Depict an array of images from the dream and the reality in no particular order.
Monsters under the tree.
Monster awakes from dream.
World ends

Excitingly many short stories are used as the foundations for movies. If this is your intention for the story then adapt it as in Film A. Simplify from the above to allow accessibility for a wider audience; ensuring box office success. Make it bizarre enough to gain a fanatical audience; this will provide opportunities for merchandising. Pepper with sex and violence to attract the masses. Mix in some irony and post- modern references to contemporary culture and film to appeal to smug intellectual types and movie nerds.

Film A

Opening: the mundane, everyday life of a college girl – some sexual swearing and perhaps a little nudity.
Scene changes to two green monsters
(award winning makeup and computer engineering) in bed discussing dream. Naked monsters obviously.
Shots of various monsters finding out that world is to end. Explanation is given – high angled shot of spaceship/station that will annihilate the land. Panic ensues. Monsters smash stuff, beat each other up, shoot things, act violently in foul and macabre ways that have never been seen in films previously. Lead monster dresses in favourite clothes then promptly removes them to indulge in a long drawn out and oddly picturesque sex scene with the other monster as world ends. Earthquakes, tidal waves and other ludicrous sexual euphemisms are employed. Scene with monsters sitting tranquilly with family under a tree is edited out. World explodes. Fade out.

Roll End Credits

Girl/furry monster: Jess Wynne
Boy/other furry monster: Ewan McGregor
Assorted angry monsters: Bit Actors for Under a Fiver Ltd
Director: Stanley Kubrick (with the assistance of leading medium and séance expert, Mystic Mog.)
Special effects and monster design: Monsters ‘R’ Us

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