It’s Easier to Dream

So, one morning I turned on PBS for the child, sat on the couch, and fell asleep. I’d love to give you a time of year or a month or anything, but this is happens so often that I could probably start every day of my life with the same line.

When I startle awake, I remember one scene in particular: two heavy aircraft (air limo sort of nonsense, really) on a tight curve, racing around a building. As on pilot rams and cripples the other aircraft in an attempt to pull ahead of his bitter rival, he finds out there’s a baby in the crashing aircraft. He rushes to land, desperate to get the baby out, but the cops are already there when he gets down.

If this sounds familiar, is should — it was the story seed that would become my NaNoWriMo 2012 novel.

I don’t usually come out of dreams with good stories. Partially because they’re often weird as hell and incomprehensible. Or they’re bizarre sex dreams about characters from Leverage. (It was a year ago, but I haven’t forgotten our special bond, Sophie.) Or they’re vivid terrible nightmares, though that’s fairly rare.

So while there might be some interesting imagery (aww yeah) or some weird otherworldly concept, its not often that I get much of  story seed out of it. Waking up from that particular dream and writing up 1000 words of story was pretty exciting.

And I’ve never repeated it.

What I find both interesting and frustrating about the whole thing is how far the dream image (one I had always been eager to capture) didn’t fit in with the story I had eventually written. My characters changed. My plot evolved beyond what I initially got from the dream. The baby doesn’t even really fit into the effin’ story, which is a shame because as a motivation for her father, she’s very effective.

Moreso, though, is that I’m still not talented enough to capture the detail and nuance of action that I got from the dream — its a weak spot for me. The way the aircraft burned, the smell and the terror and the desperation.

I’m inadequate. I can’t put the words together right.

All the same, I look forward to getting the story out and getting it right one of these days. I don’t know that I’d want to do it again (as though I have a choice?) but its a nice thing to have tried out. And hey — I still got a story out of it. Just not the one I expected.

Ashley M. Hill found her voice in science fiction when her curiosity about technology coupled with the lifelong urge to tell stories. Her interest in social and feminist issues shapes how she approaches the genre. She's pursuing computer and network repair for her day job.


  • Psh, whatever. You are not inadequate. I’ve read your stuff. You are very capable of putting words together just right. The trouble is, the scenes we write as writers never really come out the way we visualized them in our heads. Dreams are too ephemeral. So while they are good for inspiration, they are tough to actually write exactly. That’s why writing from dreams is so challenging. I’ve never successfully transcribed an idea from a dream into writing.

  • I agree with Sara. You are the opposite of inadequate! I’ve never managed to write a story based on a dream either, but mostly because the dreams I remember don’t make good story fodder because I tend to not remember them.

  • Ashley says:

    Thanks, ladies! ♥

    And dreams are super hard to work with, definitely. I feel like they can be a lot of fun, just because the subconscious in a weird place, but I don’t think I’ll try to be so literal in the future.

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