Follow Your “Dreams” – A Writer’s Dilemma

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James and I are working on our latest short story, “Prescription for Ratings: The Committee”, and I am stumped.

There are dream sequences in the first short story, “Prescription for Ratings: The Contestants”.  “Committee” is the sequel to “Contestants”.  James and I decided to connect the two pieces in another way – adding a dream sequence to “Committee” to “match” the dream elements in “Contestants”.

But… this sequel’s dream sequence is pretty cool.  I like it.  We like it.  But… I just don’t know if it relevant to the story as a whole.

So, fellow writers, what would you do?

Do you keep pieces and sections of your stories and novels that you know don’t really fit but you just love?

Or, you really think of the greater good of the piece and starting cutting and slashing?

#helpme


43 thoughts on “Follow Your “Dreams” – A Writer’s Dilemma

  1. All the advice is to only include that which takes the plot or characters forward. If you’re all having doubts about it being included it probably shouldn’t be. I cut a whole chapter from my novel even though I’d edited and edited to make it good, because it just didn’t fit at the end of the day. I was gutted but knew it had to be done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great advice! Here, the dream does (or sort of) moves the characters. It may or may not generate a lot of anger within the main character, Tyler.

      Thanks for commenting and visiting! Have a great day! 🙂

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    1. Hello! Here, this dream is what represents Tyler’s recent inner conflict. The more I reread his dream, the more relevant it becomes. You know how you dream about things that represent or “happened” during the day or week? This is one of those dreams. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting and visiting City-State! Have a great day!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I have a file full of stories and pieces just for me. What I send out for publication is different. Sometimes you have to keep something for yourself while cutting out the things that don’t move the story forward. Dream sequences are not as well received nowadays, but if you like it and feel the need to cut it out, make a “Just for me” file and put it in there. 🙂

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    1. Dream sequences are not well received? That is interesting. Why?

      I have always loved a good dream or flashback. It makes the reader think beyond the main plot. I would like to hear your take on why dream sequences are not popular.

      Thanks for visiting City-State! Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I cut and slash. If a scene doesn’t fit and/or move the story along, it has to go, no matter how difficult it is to ‘kill your darlings.’ Though it doesn’t get completely binned – I keep deleted scenes in a separate document – you never know when they might come in handy again! And I’ve just realised I have not yet got back to you about the beta read – apologies! Will do so soon x

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    1. Hello Helen!

      James and I do the same thing! We have a nice handful of stories that are laying low in a few places just waiting to be brought back to life. There are a few that I love, but they will have a purpose in due time. 🙂

      Have a great day! Thanks for visiting!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Unfortunately, as writers one tip we all have to look at is… Have you heard the term ” kill your darlings” It means no don’t throw out the work save it somewhere you never know when it may be useful in the future BUT yes sometimes we writers must… Bite the bullet and chop, chop, and chop some more to make it work. If that makes sense?

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    1. Hello! Thanks for commenting!

      When James and I began writing our first novel, StarChild, it was a complete mess. I loved it, but there were way too many things going on. We decided to put it into one character’s point of view. This helped out a lot, but a few kick ass fight and chase scenes had to go. I spent a lot of time on these scenes with my favorite characters, but I know we will be able to fit these scenes in later in the same novel or the trilogy – or as a stand alone short story (in some fashion).

      Thanks for visiting! Have a wonderful day!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What Rareity said.
    I have one story in particular where I went 20 chapters past where I zigged when I should have zagged. That was NOT a fun time for me. It meant a ton of rewriting.
    How did I know that section wasn’t going to work?
    I reached a time where I couldn’t see my way forward, I was stuck and couldn’t figure out how to get past it.
    Finally I ended up reading up to the point where I finally recognized what had gone wrong and started anew. It’s a pain, yes. Unfortunately if you want a story to flow the way it should and your readers to not start throwing rotten tomatoes and pitch forks you sometimes have to do the unthinkable and nix what isn’t working.
    Do keep it though, you might be able to use it later on.

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    1. Hello! How are you doing?

      Wow! Twenty chapters beyond, that sounds very cool, but yes, very time consuming! But, as I tell my students, it’s better to have more to work with then have to scrape to find material. 🙂

      Have a great day! It’s good to hear from you! 🙂

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      1. Thanks :).
        Yup, 20 chapters! lol
        It just about drove me bonkers
        It’s up on my WP if you want to read the story it’s on my site, under My Stories, True Blood Stories and is called The Other Road Home.
        I am looking forward to the next read through of The Committee though :D.
        I know I’ve said before that Dystopia isn’t usually my cuppa but I am enjoying City-State :).

        Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s a tough decision, but the right one: cut good writing if it makes a better story.

    I remember an anecdote from a film editor making cuts to some film (I forget which). He came to a scene and told the director, “This should go; it doesn’t fit.”

    The director protested: “But this is the one shot that inspired me to make this film.”

    Editor: “Yeah, but it doesn’t *fit* – it needs to go.”

    So it did.

    In the same vein, I find similar trends in watching deleted scenes from films. More often than not, they’re interesting, but it makes sense in the grand scheme where, even if the scene was great, the story bettered in its absence.

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    1. Hello! I always wonder the same thing about books, novels, and films: what if the editor listened more intently to the director? And that is very interesting – who has the final say? If the director wants a particular scene, why not keep it?

      I once read a novel where the author noted (in the “end credits”) that the plot line was very different until an editor got his hands on it. The editors were from a big publishing house, and they basically said, “If you want this to be successful under our name, there will be major changes.”

      I would have loved to read the original plot. The newer version was just okay.

      Thanks for visiting! Have a great day!

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  7. It depends on your level of love. I think if the sequence lacks relevancy but does little to derail the over all story, then by all means keep it. However if the dream makes the chapter disjointed it would have to be sacrificed.

    Just my opinion, your writing is brilliant. I am confident that whatever decision is made it will be the right one.

    Paul

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  8. Connecting the stories seems like a good plan, in which case keeping your dream sequence would work. Maybe if you moved it – try different places in the story. The beginning? As to the question whether to keep pieces you love or cut them for the good of the story, sad to say cutting works best.

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      1. Oh, got it! The dream doesn’t really stand out when I read the story as a whole. James and I are at the last stage of the editing process, and one of our betas suggested cutting it.

        So, this is the last elements we are struggling with.

        It’s the ending that stands out 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello!

      Funny thing – I am the editor. My writing partner and I are total indie authors with no active publisher (hopefully that will change in the near future).

      And in reality, I am deathly afraid of a real editor… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Two points. Dream sequences are time shifters and usually confuse the reader. Two, after working as a picture editor for years and years (old school use — not photo manipulation, but building and shaping stories) I know two things. Take the emotion out of the edit (liking it is not a reason to keep it) and the writer should never ever edit him or herself. They shouldn’t even be in the room when the editing is being done. Maybe, not even the same town. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Ray! Thanks for reading my post.

      If done correctly, dream sequences and flashbacks should not confuse the reader. Look at “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce – this piece is brilliant in regards to dreaming.

      A quick trip back into time allows the reader to critically think about the piece and all of its layers. Dreams and flashbacks should not confuse readers – and this one in City-State develops a deep sense of anxiety for the main character, Tyler.

      Thanks for visiting! Have a great day!

      Like

  10. See if there’s something in it you want to keep, but maybe don’t keep the whole sequence. If it isn’t working then it isn’t working. If nothing else, copy it into a separate word document and that way if you want to revisit in later drafts you still have access to it. Hope this helps.

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  11. Gotta go with Steve (n King) on this one: “Kill your darlings”. It’s hard. This is something a really good editor can help you with. But in this case, since you yourself have identified that the element is extraneous, you’re in luck. Just follow Bill Strunk’s advice: “every word must tell”.

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  12. Cut in favor of a tighter story line. Hard to do, I admit, but usually freeing in the end. And sometimes you can save the elements you love best and use them someplace else with a little editing.

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  13. From my perspective, the events that occur aren’t really the story. The story in this piece is about Tyler’s emotional development from an aloof elitist doctor “daddy’s boy” to someone who cares about the plight of the people of City-State. The dream is important to that end. The dream sequence puts Tyler in the middle of the game and allows him to experience the terror the contestants felt. It does move the story along because it give him that epiphany.

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  14. I have always heard that we shouldn’t get too attached to a great scene or fancy turn of phrase. If it doesn’t fit, out it goes. Easier said than done, no doubt. Maybe you could use the dream sequence somewhere or somehow else– as a promotional supplemental piece somewhere perhaps. Best of wishes for your work.

    Like

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