I was wondering today if it’s at all possible to write a story about dreams without sounding cliche’d and evoking the work of another author. In my case the Author I’m worried about evoking is Neil Gaimen and his work on the Sandman, but I’m sure there are others. I know that Avarinne has found it very irritating that she’s found parallels between what she wrote in her NaNoWriMo and both the Sandman and American Gods, despite the fact that she hadn’t read either at the time she wrote (and finished!) her NaNoWriMo Piece.
I’ve been drafting and redrafting in my head the premise for a book based in the world of dreams, and the more Gaiman I read the more I think I get influenced by it. Is this a good thing, I do try to be conscious of the influence and keep it to a minimum, but the more I read Sandman in particular the more I see that he’s actually explored the dreaming from so many angles that I’m finding it impossible to stay away from it.
I do have my own ideas, I’m trying to take inspiration from other angles that I’m more familiar with, namely drawing metaphors from computing with both the brain and the dream realm, but I do keep coming back to Gaiman-esque ideas. I’ve also got a theme which was the main theme of my story which I think differs from Gaimans idea, there is no (As far as I have thought up at least) single entity which controls the dreaming. I have no Sandman as it were. Although I may have sandmen (Note the lack of capitalization) in the story, they will probably bear little ressemblance to THE Sandman.
I’ve taken a cursory look into the mythology of dream and I’ve found that Gaiman has mined that quite extensively for the sandman, so I’ll try and either explore things he hasn’t, look at it in another way, or just avoid it all together. In a way it makes me wish I’d not read the Sandman, but I have and am still reading it and I’m enjoying it, so there is very little I can do.
The premise of my story mainly involves pirates, which in what I’ve read of the Sandman aren’t a big feature. I think that the way that the metaphysics of my DREAM will work is that dreams are like islands and there are creatures of dream that live on these islands. In the sea between the islands there are dream pirates. I’ve not thought up the motivation of the dream pirates, however they are pirates of the pirates of the caribbean vein rather than Somalian oil raiders.
I think in my head I’m going to look at the dream realm as a connected world which is distributed accross the collective subconsciouses of all the dreamers in the world. Think bit torrent meets world of warcraft but in your head. The dream world can only exist so long as people are still dreaming, and that they believe in the power of dreams or some such twaddle. So if everyone in the world were to stop dreaming then the world of dreams would cease to be.
In my head I’ve just come up with the concept that in order for people to dream they have to be visited by a “Sandman” who are like faeries and they make people who are asleep enter the dream. Something in the dream world is capturing the sandmen, which is threatening to destroy the dream world.
Who would want to do this, well the nightmare folk of course. I had a name for them but it’s stored in the notes program of a phone I’m not using anymore, so I’ll have to dig that up. I am aware something will have to happen to get the main character into the dreaming in a lucid state, my main character is a boy who recieves a gift from his travelling uncle whom he’s not seen since he was very little. The gift allows him passage into the dreaming.
Maybe his uncle is a retured sandman, maybe his uncle has gone back to see what the hell is going on in the dreaming, I think he’s been captured but I’m not sure.
The gift is a ship in a bottle and a book the book is empty and it seems that it cannot be written in, the ship in the bottle seems to be a pirate ship. Here is the cliche bit, when the boy goes to sleep he wakes up on the ship as in the bottle, and when he wakes up what happened to him is written in the book. It’s a bit never ending story I know, I’m thinking I may actually ditch the book idea and just keep the ship in a bottle. The only purpose of the book is to mess with the boys head, so he thinks it’s all a dream but when he looks at the book he finds it there. I’m sure I can achive this some other way though…
I want to have a battle with a giant sea monster, which (and I can’t remember why this is relevant) was turned into a nightmare beast by having a gem stuck to it, the gem was some kind of nightmare gem or something like that, and it’s the first clue on the trail to the big bad. Who for want of a better name we’ll call the lord of nightmares.
If anyone is aware of any interesting dream/nightmare related mythology I’m interested. I’m aware that Nightmares are called nightmares because people used to believe that demons called Mares or Maers used to posses people as they slept, I may or may not use this…
Anyway I welcome any thoughts or ideas on this topic, this may form the basis of my NaNoWriMo this year, the idea is to write a story aimed at either children or young adults, maybe…