Why dream scenes don’t work

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I went on a mini-rant on Twitter about how much I dislike reading dream scenes.

I understand that dream scenes are supposed to give you insight into the character’s psyche, but they read as heavy-handed and make the writing feel lazy.

If a character has a fear of their father, for example, I don’t want to read about a dream the character has in which their father is represented by a giant stomping around their neighborhood, yelling in a booming voice and then transforming into a herd of spiders. Okay, in hindsight that actually sounds kind of awesome, but I still would much rather read about a childhood memory that shows why the character is afraid of their father.

Show me a moment from the protagonist’s childhood– that moment in the grocery store where the father kicked a display of cereal boxes and caused the entire mountain of boxes to come toppling down on top of the protagonist. Describe to me the sharp edges of the cereal boxes digging into your character’s arm. Tell me about the grocery store manager trying to calm the father down. Show me something like that.

Dream scenes are almost never enjoyable to read, anyway. They’re confusing and weird and it’s not much different from your spouse or your coworker telling you about the dream they had last night. Dreams are interesting when you experience them, but so boring to hear about.

Cut the dream scene out of your manuscript. Don’t take the easy way out. Your story will thank you, your characters will thank you, and your future readers will thank you.

Manuscript Wishlist (MSWL)

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My wish list…

Last updated: February 6, 2019

Mission Statement:

I look for books that delight readers, that help inspire wonder and imagination, that foster deep empathy and compassion for our fellow human beings, that provide rich character representation of marginalized people groups, that take the reader on an adventure, that uncover fascinating stories from history’s footnotes, that explore issues of faith and how to apply Christ’s teachings to our own life, that celebrate women and the female experience, that ask nitty gritty questions and don’t settle for easy answers, that make people disappointed when they have to close the book and go to bed, and books that add a touch of magic to readers’ lives. 

What I represent, in general:

  1. Picture books
  2. Middle Grade
  3. Young Adult
  4. Gift/coffee table books
  5. Adult Nonfiction
  6. Christian Living
  7. Devotionals
  8. Graphic Novels (MG/YA)

In 2019:

  1. In 2019 I’m particularly wanting to sign more picture book author/illustrator clients, graphic novelists, and diverse voices in general!

PICTURE BOOKS:

    1. Magical feel (See The Night Gardener, The Antlered Ship, Owl Moon for reference.)
    2. Stories that celebrate the ordinary magic of everyday life: moments like capturing fireflies, making bread, watching a bird murmuration, the Northern Lights, planting a seed and having it grow into a living plant, and so on.
    3. Pop science, or exploring something peculiar that happens in nature (unique/quirky animals, plants, etc.)
    4. Nature stories
    5. Food + cooking + recipes (making a family recipe)
    6. A story from history’s footnotes
    7. Natural hair routine: a mother/daughter story
    8. Foster family, adoption, or any sort of blended, non-traditional family structure
    9. Anything that loops in Mexican culture in particular (recipes, traditions, etc.)
    10. Refugee stories told in a unique way
    11. Story ft. Native American family (#OwnVoices)
    12. Lesser-known cultural traditions
    13. House-cleansing or blessing ceremonies/traditions
    14. Biography of a lesser-known woman in history (particularly a WOC)
    15. Spooky (See How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green for my spooky book crush.)
    16. Girl power
    17. Humor
    18. Quirky story about cats (very picky on these!)
    19. Creative/artistic process (in the vein of Peter Reynolds’ The Dot, Ish)
    20. Bilingual (esp. Spanish/English)
    21. NF exploration of taste as a sense/taste buds/etc.
    22. A story set in the Pacific Northwest! Would love something centered around PNW culture, like hiking, camping, etc. I’d like this to be written by someone who currently lives here, please!

MIDDLE GRADE:

  1. #OwnVoices stories in the vein of FRONT DESK by Kelly Yang
  2. Magical realism
  3. Graphic novels
  4. Historical fiction
  5. Mystery (esp. in the vein ofTHE DOLLHOUSE MURDERS)
  6. Take me on an adventure!
  7. Anything magic-tinged
  8. Multicultural slice of life
  9. Epistolary novel between two pen pals

YOUNG ADULT:

  1. #OwnVoices
  2. Romantic Comedy (esp. a biracial couple!)
  3. Thriller/Suspense (I loved ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen McManus)
  4. Contemporary realistic (particularly if it’s an #OwnVoices piece, or if it’s voice-y/in the vein of Robyn Schneider/John Green)
  5. Graphic novels
  6. Horror
  7. Magical Realism (I loved THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER by Leslie Walton)
  8. Anything CREEPY
  9. Mystery (I loved TRULY DEVIOUS by Maureen Johnson)
  10. #OwnVoices slice of life
  11. Romance set in the Seattle grunge scene
  12. A teen girl obsessed with true crime
  13. Voice-y
  14. Boarding school setting
  15. A teenager with a personal project or mission (esp. in the social justice vein)
  16. Gothic setting

ADULT BOOKS (PRIMARILY NONFICTION/LIFESTYLE/GIFT BOOKS):

  1. Cookbooks
  2. Anything centered around linguistics
  3. Pop science
  4. Citizen science
  5. Pop psychology
  6. Photography books (especially would love something funny + clever, in the vein of The Art of Clean Up)
  7. Books that tow the line between lifestyle + cookbook (books like Scandinavian Gatherings, Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, How to Hygge, The Year of Cozy, etc.)
    1. I’d especially love a lifestyle/cookbook based around a concept like Fika/Hygge, except from a non-Scandinavian culture.
  8. Guidebook for how to live a fair trade lifestyle
  9. Guidebook/workbook for self-care
  10. Quirky/novelty gift books/coffee table books
  11. Drone photography book
  12. Interactive journals
  13. Poetry with a visual element attached

CHRISTIAN MARKET:

  1. PB that explores joy in a fun, non-preachy way
  2. PB about baptism
  3. PB that explores tangible ways of how we can live like Christ did (without being preachy!)
  4. Devotionals: for dating couples, women, teen girls, kids, creatives
  5. Devotionals with interactive elements
  6. Interactive journals

NOT QUITE MY CUP OF TEA:

  1. Memoirs
  2. Sports stories
  3. Erotica
  4. Space operas
  5. Super hero stories
  6. Amish Fiction
  7. Angel/Demon narratives
  8. Epic Fantasy
  9. Stories with a “dreamscape” element