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.

What I’m looking for #MSWL

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My wish list…

Last updated: November 15, 2018

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. Lifestyle
  5. Gift books/coffee table books
  6. Adult Nonfiction
  7. Christian Living
  8. Devotionals
  9. Graphic Novels (MG/YA)

In 2018:

  1. In 2018 I’m particularly hoping to build up my list of picture book author/illustrator clients!

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. An #OwnVoices piece about a Native American legend from a tribe within Washington state (Especially something from the Puyallup Tribe, Maka Tribe or How Tribe.)
    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. Something that introduces the concept of different personality types (ex: through the Enneagram)
    22. NF exploration of taste as a sense/taste buds/etc.
    23. A story set in the Pacific Northwest! Perhaps a lyrical ode to our trees + gorgeous environment? Or something about PNW culture, like hiking, camping, etc. I’d like this to be written by someone who currently lives here, please!

MIDDLE GRADE:

  1. Historical fiction
  2. Take me on an adventure! (Trends in PBs + YA are ever-changing, but when it comes to MG, MG readers wanting to go on an adventure seems to be an evergreen priority.)
  3. Anything magic-tinged
  4. Multicultural slice of life
  5. Mystery
  6. Thriller/suspense (esp. in the vein of The Dollhouse Murders)
  7. Graphic novel
  8. #OwnVoices
  9. Epistolary novel between two pen pals

YOUNG ADULT:

  1. Romantic Comedy (esp. a biracial couple!)
  2. Thriller/Suspense (esp. in the vein of One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus)
  3. Contemporary realistic (particularly if it’s an #OwnVoices piece, or if it’s voice-y/in the vein of Robyn Schneider/John Green)
  4. Horror
  5. Anything that could be pitched as being in the vein of Jane the Virgin meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez
  6. Anything CREEPY
  7. Mystery
  8. #OwnVoices slice of life
  9. Romance set in the Seattle grunge scene
  10. A teen girl obsessed with true crime
  11. #OwnVoices
  12. Voice-y
  13. Fantasy inspired by mythology/folklore from non-Western countries
  14. Fantasy grounded in reality
  15. Boarding school setting
  16. A teenager with a personal project or mission
  17. A teenager passionate about social justice
  18. Gothic setting
  19. Christian YA novel feat. teenage girl wrestling with the discrepancies between what she reads in the Bible + what she hears preached from the pulpit
  20. Graphic novel
  21. Interactive journal

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

  1. Cookbooks
  2. Anything centered around linguistics
  3. Pop science
  4. Citizen science
  5. Pop psychology
  6. Graphic novels
  7. Photography books (especially would love something funny + clever, in the vein of The Art of Clean Up)
  8. 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.
  9. Guidebook for how to live a fair trade lifestyle
  10. Guidebook/workbook for self-care
  11. Quirky/novelty gift books/coffee table books
  12. Drone photography book
  13. Interactive journal
  14. Poetry

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. Christian Living book with a social justice focus
  5. Christian Living book that unpacks the goat + lamb parable in Matthew 25:31-46.
  6. Devotional for dating couples
  7. Devotional for women
  8. Devotional for teen girls
  9. Devotional for kids
  10. Devotional for creatives
  11. Devotional with a social justice focus
  12. Devotional with interactive elements
  13. Anything that loops in the Enneagram
  14. 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