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: August 2, 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, 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. Graphic Novels (MG/YA)
  5. Gift/coffee table books
  6. Adult Nonfiction
  7. Books for both the general market, and the Christian market

In 2019:

  1. In 2019 I’m particularly wanting to sign more picture book author/illustrator clients, graphic novelists, and diverse voices in general! I’m also eager for a fun YA Rom Com, and a mermaid novel.

PICTURE BOOKS:

    1. Delightfully diverse—books like Hair Love, My Papi Has a Motorcycle, Honeysmoke, Alma, The Sandwich Swap, Under My Hijab.
    2. Humor. (I loved Maria the Matador, Dragons Love Tacos, The Bad Seed, Brunhilda’s Backwards Day, I Don’t Like Koala.)
    3. Magical books—(I loved The Night Gardener, The Antlered Ship, Ocean Meets Sky, The Bear and the Piano, The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore, anything by Emily Winfield-Martin or David Weisner for reference.)
    4. Mermaids!
    5. 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.
    6. A joyful picture book about karaoke—sort of like the karaoke equivalent of HIP-HOP LOLLIPOP. 🎤♥️
    7. Pop science, or exploring something peculiar that happens in nature (unique/quirky animals, plants, etc.)
    8. Food + cooking + recipes (making a family recipe)
    9. A story from history’s footnotes
    10. Foster family, adoption, or any sort of blended, non-traditional family structure
    11. Story ft. Native American family (Own Voices)
    12. House-cleansing or blessing ceremonies/traditions
    13. Spooky. Ghosts! If it was somehow possible for an author/illustrator to do a spooky-yet-entirely-kid-friendly picture book about russalka, I would die of happiness. (See How to Make Friends with a Ghost for my spooky book crush.)
    14. Girl power
    15. Quirky story about cats
    16. Would love a raccoon story. ❤
    17. Creative/artistic process (in the vein of The Wonder, The Dot, Ish)
    18. Bilingual (esp. Spanish/English)
    19. I’m on the hunt for a funny Christian PB!

MIDDLE GRADE:

  1. Slice of life, Own Voices stories in the vein of Front Desk by Kelly Yang
  2. Magical realism
  3. Graphic novels (I loved Pashmina)
  4. Mermaids!
  5. Historical fiction
  6. Mystery (esp. in the vein of The Dollhouse Murders)
  7. Take me on an adventure!
  8. Anything magic-tinged
  9. Multicultural slice of life
  10. Epistolary novel between two pen pals

YOUNG ADULT:

  1. Mermaids! The catch is that I’m not looking for the falls-in-love-with-a-human trope, or something that features wars and kingdoms and sea politics. So I guess I want a… quiet mermaid novel? ✨🐚🧜🏿‍♀️🧜🏽‍♀️🌊
  2. Rom Com, featuring a diverse couple. I’m looking for a high concept instant hook.
  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. Magical Realism (I loved The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender  by Leslie Walton)
  7. Mystery (I am loving the Truly Devious series by Maureen Johnson)
  8. Anything CREEPY. I love anything with a horror or Gothic element.
  9. I would LOVE a Romance set in the Seattle grunge scene
  10. Voice-y
  11. I love books with a very atmospheric setting—boarding school, lighthouse, forest, things like that.

ADULT BOOKS:

  1. Fun coffee table books
  2. Cookbooks
  3. A gift book centered around linguistics
  4. Science—”pop” science, citizen science
  5. Drone photography book
  6. Photography coffee table 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.)
  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. Interactive journals
  12. Poetry with a visual element attached
  13. Adult fiction for the Christian market (not Amish fiction)
  14. Devotionals with a unique hook

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