Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dream Seeds

There was a time not too long ago when I thought that novels based on dreams were somehow less creative than novels built on long hours of pulling together a plot. Every time I heard that someone's novel was born out of a dream, I wanted to shout, “Hey, that's cheating!” Dreams are usually so chaotic that I couldn't see how anyone could drag a coherent story out of one.

And then I had mine.

It was beautiful: one of those few-and-far-between dreams that you wish would go on and on forever. I hated waking up to find that it wasn't real, knowing that even if I went back to sleep I couldn't recapture it. As soon as I could I wrote down everything I remembered. This was the dream:


I stood in the hidden-away market square of a small town, peering over the side of a stall made of gray wood. The smell of bread twisted my hunger pains into a tight cord, but I was too poor to buy food. My family had just lost everything, and my only hope was to rely on the baker's charity.

She turned me down.

No one knew me. I had come to this place from a future year that none of the people in the town would ever see. I had no reason to expect kindness from a stranger, so when a man I didn't know sat me down in front of a bowl of stew I was awed.

He introduced me to others in the town, made sure all my needs were met. I began a new life there. For a while I was content.

The change came when I discovered her [identity cut for spoiler reasons]. She was everything I could have wanted: like me in so many ways, but with her own flaws, not mine. I watched her from a distance, concerned for her safety.

Because she wasn't safe. The townspeople feared her. I felt their mistrust and sensed their intentions: they wanted her dead.

I remember standing in the shadow of an alley, waiting, watching and worrying. I had disguised myself, so when the man who had bought me food the first day came to stand beside me I was sure he wouldn't recognize me. And yet he did. He warned me to stay hidden. He told me that the people who wanted the girl dead would kill me too.

So I did what he said and kept myself from discovery. I watched my back. I stayed away from anyone who might guess who I was. But when the townspeople set their plan in motion, I couldn't stand aside and watch the girl die. I had to act.

As soon as they mobbed her, I... well, but that would be telling too much. Let me just say that what I did was one of the most exciting things I've ever done in a dream. The rest I'll keep secret for the book.


And that's where I got the idea for Olympus Gate. I had lots of questions to answer: How could I be from the future, and how did my family fit in? When and where was this town? What happened after the dream ended? Though the dream was initially everything, by the end it was only a small piece and many of the details were changed. But it was the necessary foundation. Without it I would never have imagined this book.

So that's a little more about Olympus Gate. Are any of you writing books based on a dream?


  1. *Shiver* I love dreams like that! Olympus Gate sounds amazing!! Hurry up and get published so I can read it :)

    I have to admit, I have really vivid story dreams a lot, but I haven't actually written any of them yet into novels. I do jot them down though so I can look back when I'm ready to start my next book. It just hasn't been the right time yet.

  2. I'm working on it! I'm really focused on polishing this draft. Might take a little while longer, but hopefully once done it'll be about ready for querying.

    I have a bunch of other dream ideas stored away too. Maybe I'll get to them some day...

  3. Exciting! How wonderful -- can't wait to read it.

  4. Oh yes, those "dream seeds" can be quite intoxicating. And the process of getting them down and actually creating a novel from them can be very challenging. But fun, oh so much fun. :)

  5. Wow! You remember that with such clarity. That's a really cool dream, actually. I've had lots of dreams in the past where I woke up thinking what a great book it would be. But that was before I started really writing.
    My previous story was based on a dream I had. Not really the plot itself, but the final outcome. It's almost cliche these days to say we wrote from our dreams, but it happens!