Writing: What Dreams May Come?

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…

Story Idea: The End of Immortality

I had a dream two nights ago which could be turned into a science fiction short story, maybe even a novel. I the Dream I was one of a race of Immortals (I think in the dream we were Humans who had just solved death, like in Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which I’ve only listened to the first couple of chapters of as a podcast), In this society no one worked, all menial labour was done by clones who were treated a subserviant race.

Also in this society criminals rather than being incarcerated were just paralysed from the neck down, for the duration of thier sentences, they were walked about in wheel chairs by clone servents.

At some point in the dream it became apparent that we were no longer immortal, this meant that people who had no need to worry about death suddenly had this enormous shadow looming over them.

I think there a multiple facets to look into in this story, I think the Immortality bit is a bit Down and Out and a bit BSG. It would also be interesting to look into how the same circumstances would effect something non human, like the Endless from the Sandman, or more traditional dieties (I guess this is probably what the plot of American Gods is about, I’m only hafway throug it though), it’s also a bit Highlander I guess.

The treatment of criminals is something I’ve never encountered before, most science fiction seems to assume either incarceration, freezing, some form of game where they fight for thier life/freedom/fame, or just the death sentence for everything, not very many take the view of a more lenient society… Arguably paralysis is not nessisarilly more lenient, at least in prison you can move your own body even if it’s within the confines of your cell. When your body becomes your prison I think thats possible a worse punishment.

The third aspect of the dream, the subserviant clones echos my blog post from a few months ago, maybe the clones will notice that they are treated like shit, and rebel. Maybe it’s a criminal who is being served by the clones who makes them realise this fact? It wouldn’t be the first time a criminal sanctions criminal acts while imprisoned, then again is freeing a race who are subjugated and treated as slaves really a criminal act?

All food for thought.

MyNoWriMo Update

Just a quick updatre on the status of MyNoWriMo.net I’ve started development work on it. Kinda… I’ve finally managed to get access to the databse that it’s going to be run on, and I’ve created the base tables that I will need to start development.

I’ve got a hectic week ahead of my so it will be at least a week before I actually start coding up the interface code for it however here are the features I plan to support in the first iteration:

1. Create a user account.
2. Log in with user account.
3. Start a project.
4. Add a word count for project.
5. View project status.
6. Search users
7. Add user as friend
8. Become Fan of Authors work

I’ve got a few other ideas.

For the uninitiated MyNoWriMo.net is my attempt at making a platform for people to do what NaNoWriMo lets you do but at any time during the year. I’ve got a few Ideas that will hopfully make it stand out, but the main goal is to give people a place where they can have a public target that they can work towards.

It’s looking like MyNoWriMo will be developed in PHP, because that is what my web hosting company supports, It may not be at first written in very good PHP as I’m not a PHP developer, I’m evaluating AJAX frameworks at the moment, leaning towards jQuery, assuming I can find a good charting libray for it, otherwise I’ll use the charting in Dojo, which I have had experience writing code in.

Story Idea: 100 Times

I basically dremt the entire plot to a horror movie last night. The basic premise was that somone cursed a neighborhood so that anyone who performed any action 100 times would die.

I don’t remember much more about the dream other than that the only way the curse could be lifted was by killing the person who had raised it. Which lead to mobs of people accusing each other of being the person who raised the curse, and killing each other.

People also had to avoid repetition in their actions because if they did anything too often they they’d die. I can’t remember exactly what the dreams definition of a thing was.

In my dream it turned out that the curse had been raised by some kid who with an electric guitar (I love the way dreams give you so much detail in for some things but the most absurd things can also just make sense) I think we found another way to lift the curse I cant remember.

There were other sinister things going on like there was a woman with loads of kids and she was using them to experiment on the cause of the curse, I think in the dream she was Indian but I’m not sure (Go my rascist subconscience and it’s adherance to stereo types)…

The rest of the dream is a bit fuzzy im my memory now, and I think it’s intermingled with another dream I had about the army invading the neighborhood I live in and the whole neighborhood turning out to be a test bed for experimental super soldiers…

The dream has just given me an idea for a satyrical game show though… Just a minute: extreme you have a minute to talk on a subject and if you repeat yourself or hesitate you die…

Anyway, I thought I’d blog it as the premise of a curse that killed anyone who did anything 100 times sounded interesting.

Story Idea: What ever happened to the end of the world?

I went to a Camille O’Sullivan Gig on Sunday with Annabel, and one of her songs put a short story idea in my head.

It was her song 5 Years, which is off of the album Live at the Olympia. Basically the premise for the story is that 5 years ago something happened that meant that humanity that the end of the world would be in 5 years time, there was nothing that could be done about it, the world was just going to end in 5 years. The Story would be from the point of view of a survivor of the chaos, retelling what happened over the past 5 years.

There is a twist which should be obvious, but in case it’s not I’ll not go into it.

On another note expect a review of the Gig in a later blog post, I may try to ressurect some of my old gig reveiw blog posts from when I was a “Freelance Event Technician” or Roadie. They are sitting in the databse of my old blog which has since been scrapped.

Story Idea: Rebel Clone

This idea is roughlt based on a dream I had, in my dream I was a clone of myself and I was being forced to work writing software. As with most dreams it was a bit vague. But it spawned and idea in my head.

The idea has evolved into a much bigger idea of a group of short stories concerning clones. Much like how Issac Asimov covered the ethics and issues concerned in robotics the idea is to cover similar ground with clones.

The first story is about a scientist who clones himself to get more work done but treats his clone like a slave. The clone then rebels and tries to run away. Possibly killing the scientist in the process. I’m unsure of how the rest of it pans out.

Other ideas I’ve had involve clons with shared consciesness all controlled by whomever is cloned, and the issues that would arise when one of the clones became self aware.

I’ll have to spend some time thinking on this to see if I can formulate some bettter Ideas for the more short stories. I just wanted to get the idea down, now before I forgot about it.

Story Idea: I for one welcome our <x> Overlords

So I’ve thought up an idea for a seris of short stories that I’d like to work one. The basic premise is things that seems totally harmless rising up and taking ove the world.

I’ve so far got an idea for two of these, one is based partly on a dream I had a fewweeks ago and partly on a Poem/Song I wrote when I was 15 (I’ve got no idea where the poem is now, I may have a copy on my web server), the other is based on a random thought I had yesterday while tidying up the house, which as I was tidying just grew and grew.

I’m going to try to write these up as soon as I can, they shouldn’t come to more than 1k words.

But to give you a teaser The working titles are:

“I for one welcome our Faery overlords” and “Rise of the Butterflies.”

I’ve scribbled down the opening sentence of each of them on a scrap of paper, because I know that for me that is the hardest part.

Anyway I’ve got paid work to do at the moment.

Story Idea: Judge Dredd Re-Imagined

I had the oddest dream last night, I was a super hero, who was a Judge, and I fought crime using Implements that a Judge would have. When I say a Judge, I’m not refering to a 2000 AD Judge like Judge Dredd I mean a regular Judge with a wig, robes and a gavel.

In fact the only thing I remember about this dream was that I had Gavel-rangs, which much like Batmans Batarangs were Gavels that I threw at villains and they came back to my hands.

The comedy nature of my dream made me think of the campness of The 60’s Batman TV series which is a “campification” of what is in actuallity a really dark and troubled character. I wonder if the same thing could be done to Judge Dredd? Or if “The Judge” with his Gavel-rangs will make an appearance else where.

I leave you with this thought…

Here comes the Judge, Here comes the judge, here comes the Judge…

Story Idea: Generation – Z

I’ve had an idea that would have made a great movie but would in implementation probably have to start out as a comic book. Mainly because it involves children doing disturbing things.

The Idea is a cross between a Zombie movie and something akin to Children of Men, Basically at some point in the future a a contagion spreads that turns everyone under the age of 12 into a Zombie. The idea came to me after having a series of Zombie dreams last night, and I woke up with the name on my lips.

Generation Z.

It turns out that Generation Z is the term used for people born after 2001 [Wikipedia Link] so it seems appropriate that the comic should be set in 2013 (Note the relevance to tridekaphobiacs) Some vaugue connection to the Mayan belief that the world will end in 2012 could be worked in but I think it’s a tad cliche’d and by then I think that we’ll be sick to death of movies books and films who assert the end of the world will happen in 2012.

I’ve not got much more than my first scene mapped out in my head, it involves a childrens party and one of the kids who has always been a little wierd (Maybe was only invited becuase he was the only person in the class who left when all the invites are sent out so the parents of the kid who’s having a party invite him too) any way the kid starts biting the other kids, the kids get sent home the party ends, but the infection has begun. I imagine there will be a scene shortly thereafter where the birthday boy crawls into his mothers bed, daddy is away on a business trip and couldn’t make it to the party, and eats his mom.

The father will come home the next do to find the house a mess and his kid covered in gore, enter emotional scene of the father killing his own son, calling the cops, and getting put into prison for a double murder.

Shortly afterwards it will be noted that no children have been born for a while, lots of still births etc, another idea is that getting pregenant kills the mother as the zombie baby eats her from the inside, this is a bit Children of men or Aeon Flux or whatever other post apocalyptic film/comic/book that deals with us not being able to make any more people.

The Zombie baby in the womb idea would make using birth control an aweful lot more important. And if making babies kills you then you aren’t going to try, so even if there was a 1 in 1000 chance that the baby wasn’t going to be a zombie would you risk it?

I’ve got images in my head of packs of undead children running about the streets, terrorizign people (ala 28 days later zombies they become much faster and stronger and not slow corpses)

There are a few plot holes that need to be filled, mainly if the children can’t infect adults and adults don’t make new children for fear of dying then there are a finite number of zombies, however there are also a finite number of people…

One mechanism to get around this is possibly having the virus mutate midway through the plot so that adults turn into shambling zombies, the other slightly more disturbing idea would be for the older zombie children to mate, I don’t really like this idea very much… Having adults turned into child producing cocoons (Alien like) is another idea but not very viable unless the zombie children grow very quickly, which I assume is doable…

Main plotlines/themes will be something along the lines of:

  1. Getting the fuck away from the zombie children
  2. Trying to find a cure.
  3. The “Moral” dillema of killing children, when they are just sick.
  4. Trying to figure out a way to continue the human race.

I’d appreciate anyones toughts on this subject.

NaNoWriMo… Oh No…

I’ve signed up to do a NaNoWriMo… Jeepers… I’ve always wanted to do one, but I’ve never been bothered. This year I know a few people who are joining in, and I’ve convinced Annabel to do it, so she’s forcing me to suffer as well.

I’m not yet decided on what I’m going to write about, I’ve got a couple of plots bouncing around my head.

One is a Near future story about a regular guy who get recruited to an MI7 like organization because he is the spitting image of one of thier agents who goes rogue and they need him becuase their agent was about to crack a case of some kind. The idea that is gestating in my head is kind of Jennifer Government meets James Bond with a hint of I guess maybe Snow Crash

Another is based on a dream I had a few months ago, about a group of astronauts who are sent to space on to participate in some research on keeping people in stasis aboard a space station. They Awaken to discover that for some reason they weren’t woken up on time but several tens/hundreds of years later. The world has been depopulated, the space station is for all they know the last bastion of humanity, except the only people on the station have reverted to a tribal culture who shun technology and worship the ships computer, which has delusions of granduer… So I guess it’s Red Dwarf meets 2001 – A Space Odyssey.

I have a third idea for a childrens book involving pirates, but I’m saving that because It might actually ammount to something… Besides pirates are in fashion now, so I cant write about them

Everything starts somewhere…