Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Notes: Dreaming up a story

If you haven't heard yet, I published my first book back in December. Of course you know, because I haven't stopped talking about it. "B-Sides" is not the only book I will ever write. I called that book "volume 01" because I feel like in a couple years I could probably release another book of similar unfinished/unprinted stories.

I have five potential book ideas in my head. Three are non-fiction, two are fiction. One non-fiction piece will likely be book number two. I have nearly 10,000 words written for that piece. Check out my Facebook cover photo, as it is printed out pages of that book. The second non-fiction book is an idea that I could easily make work; the problem is that it would mostly be made up of interviews with other people and I would just have to get that all scheduled out. The third non-fiction book is just an idea I have written on a sheet of paper.

One of the fiction pieces will likely wind up just being a short story (and probably released in B-Sides, volume 02). I have a general idea of it, I just need to write it out. The other one is shaping up to be a novel. 

I don't really write a lot of fiction. There is one fiction piece included in "B-Sides." It's called "Mr. H" and is a short story about an old man. People have told me it was kind of dark. I've been looking for another excerpt from volume 01 to post in the blog, I might do that one eventually.

I had an idea about a year ago for an introduction for a story about a slacker guy. I wrote it and realized I had no story to go with it. It was just a couple pages setting up this guy as a character. After that, he had nothing to do, so I did nothing with it.

When I sleep, I have realistic, vivid dreams. It's nothing crazy or outlandish. I dream about real things that could happen to real people. Sometimes I will wake up and have to convince myself that the dream didn't really happen. Usually, I'll say or do something and all my friends will hate me. That's the kind of nightmare I have. I wake up feeling like shit until I tell myself it wasn't real.

I had a dream a few days back and when I woke up I thought to myself, "That would be a good story." I fell back asleep and when I woke up later I couldn't remember anything past the basic details. I realized I didn't want that to happen again, so I decided to sleep with a notebook beside me. When I had a dream and woke up, I would then write my dream down and I would have it.

After I did that the next time, I realized that this guy from my dream could be the slacker character I abandoned last year. Now I have a beginning of the story. I just need to fill in the rest.

I've done this three times now, writing down my dreams, as you'll see from the picture below. My handwriting is normally passable to very good, but not when you're groggy. In fact, you can see the different levels of grogginess, as part 01 is big and sloppy, part 02 is small and sloppy, and part 03 looks like normal bad handwriting.

Take a look and then I'll explain it.


The basic plot of the novel now looks like some young journalist, either an intern or rookie starting out. There is some sort of corruption or big story that some outside force - maybe a crooked journalist on the staff - is trying to cover up. The protagonist - who, according to my notes is named Chris - is going to do the right thing. The way he does the right thing is to do the "write thing." See what I did there?

Anyway... I only understand about half of my notes. I will try to translate them for you here.

Part 01: Scene in office intern wants it --> other guy is leaving. He sets it up; other person is half listening. "He's leaving." Jeremy asks Chris if he is happy. If he wants it. Asks if he's experimented with salad dressing.

This is a big scene around the beginning when this Chris guy explains how badly he wants this break. Read into any real life parallels all you want. It's from my subconscious. I guess the guy that Chris is talking to isn't really paying attention to him, kind of dismissing him.

Then he gives Chris this wisdom about life. The thing about salad dressing is some sort of analogy about life. Do you live the same boring life every day? Do you order the same boring salad every day for lunch? And then it's going to wake something up in Chris' head. It will change how he thinks and goes about whatever he's going about. As a joke, a few pages later he'll probably order a different salad for lunch.

Part 02: Scene in bookstore exploring. "They're just books" "Don't you ever talk like that." like he has velcro on his shirt.

This would be an early scene between Chris and his lady friend interest. Not sure which one is saying what. From a personal standpoint, I would be offended if somebody said that about a bookstore. But for this story, it would probably be better if she's the nerdy, artsy type of girl who brings this guy to a bookstore. Velcro on the shirt? No idea.

Part 03: pizza place --> recognized girl, sort of. Asked about the pizza she ordered --> half b. olive, half mushroom for her & her roommate. His two favorite toppings. She took a phone call he had to leave --> wrote his phone number on a napkin & put it in her box

I was a little more lucid for that part, as I actually wrote in the lines on the page. Obviously, that would be the first encounter with the love interest. And then maybe they would start talking and they would go to the bookstore? The possibilities are endless.

That's where we're at now. I just have to figure out what the drama of the story is. Maybe the girl is involved. Have to flesh out the characters and add some new ones. And probably change the lead character's name - Chris is kind of a dumb name.

I'll keep dreaming and see if I can come up with anything else. And maybe I'll even work on it when I'm awake.

Cheap plug: Click here to order "B-Sides: rarities and unreleased works, vol. 01"

Another cheap plug: Click here to listen to episode 07 of my podcast, where I talk about the book.

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