I tried to write this post once already, and it ended up longer than my average post before I was even halfway done. So now I’m going to try to do the super abridged version of it.
INSPIRATION – I got the idea in 8th grade Lit class after daydreaming and thinking about how weird it would be if all the things I’d just imagined appeared in the classroom. Then I thought that bringing dreams to life would be a good book idea and it all went from there.
PLOT (as it was then) – Shauna Clay unwittingly buys a magical dreamcatcher from a hippy named Sunny. The dreamcatcher transports Shauna into her dreams every morning, and she can’t find her way back to the real world without seeing the dream through to its conclusion. The dreams challenge her stuck-up ways and cause her to rethink her priorities and learn a huge lesson, etc.
PROBLEMS – Shauna’s name has since been changed to Shaina McKay since I realized that “Clay” seemed like I was trying too hard for literary meaning. Clay being a moldable, changeable substance. The real problem was that I did mold Shauna to my liking, making her the person I never thought I could be. As a thirteen-year-old girl who was teased a lot for being “gross” and “ugly,” I immediately attempted to live through my character:
The three girls visited tons of shops, but Shauna still didn’t see anything really amusing. They began to talk about her upcoming date with Jason.
“He is so hot. I can’t believe your mom said yes,” said Paige.
“Yeah,” said Carrie, “But I’m not surprised that he asked you out. You’re, like, the prettiest girl in school.”
There were two things about Shauna Clay that were undoubtedly true. One was that she was very pretty. She had shoulder length brown hair, green eyes, a perfect complexion, and she was in good shape. The other thing was that she’d never broken a sweat. She wasn’t athletic at all, in fact it was just the opposite. Shauna was laid back, and had no interest in sports. Studying was the only thing she was really good at.
The Dreamcatchers, First Edition (2004)
Beyond the bad writing and the attempt to live vicariously through my character, there was also the plot. There is a word for it that I didn’t know existed at the time – Formulaic. The book worked like this – Shauna woke up, lived through an exciting dream, did some stuff, went to sleep, had a dream, lived through the dream, did some stuff, repeat, repeat, repeat.
HOW I’M FIXING IT – Well, first off, I became a better writer. I learned to Show more and Tell less. But the book was still formulaic. In my current rewrite, I’m working more on having Shaina’s waking life be just as important and eventful as her dream life. That way the two can parallel each other instead of her waking life being filler between dreams.
“Yeah,” said Shauna. She went upstairs to read.
Later that night, after dinner, Shauna went up to her room. She lay on her bed and stared at the dreamcatcher. After a few minutes, she dozed off because she hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. She woke up in the morning, apprehensive, because she couldn’t remember her dream and didn’t know what to expect.
There are a lot of things I changed in the first rewrite, too, like making Shaina a person who sketches all the time. In the newest rewrite, her drawings literally wallpaper her bedroom, and they relate to the quirky, crazy dreams she has. In the older versions, Shaina’s real life affected the dreams she had more than the lives of the other two people she meets – Cady and Eric – even though all three of them share the dreams and learn from them. In the newest version, I will be attempting to work Cady’s and Eric’s lives into the dreams more, so there’s a balance.
We’ll see how it goes! If you managed to read along this far, then you deserve a comic as a reward. One that fits into the post without the need for click-to-enlarge technology.
Nifty, no? This new format will allow me to provide you with in-post comics from now on. Hooray!
Tune in next time for a look back at Familiar.
Word of the Day: Cumbersome (adj) – burdensome; troublesome.