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 youre attempts to write compelling, attention holding fiction.)
See below for an example of how a story evolves from a dream.
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 boyfriends 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 dont 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.
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 readers attention.
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.
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
Descriptions of a girls 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 monsters childhood or the
Depict an array of images from the dream and the reality in no particular
Monsters under the tree.
Monster awakes from dream.
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.
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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