Sunday, April 7, 2013

Idea Garage Sale: Half-sibling Hurricane

So I had one of those dreams, the ones that are clearly a story and they all hang together and you can work this but by the time you get to the notebook all the connections have fallen apart. The notes look like this:

Hurricane. Connections. half-siblings, but how was this figured out? He rescues his half-brother and sends him off to their mutually unknown father but how is this discovered? Purple woven-plastic strap - held a pager - protagonist scavenges it off of the street after his brother loses it - connection not made till later - only one it could have been in that area, the purple indicates a hotel in another part of town. Protag is frustrated, angry, keeps rescuing people but doesn't know how big a difference he's making - because it's all incidental to something else he's trying to do, and failing. In the dream, everyone was male but the woman who lost her dog. Even the dog was male. Why?

I'm tolerably good at remembering my dreams, compared to most people, but as you see, that's still not very good. And it leaves out the storekeeper running after the dog yelling "Cumin!"

The trouble, of course, is that these dreams don't make as much sense when you have them as they seem to at the time. Your brain isn't working the same way it does when awake, so connections are made differently and sense doesn't mean the same thing. It is as much a myth that you can take your dreams and transfer them directly to stories as it is that you can do so with your real life. Both require a lot of organizational work before they can be useful.

Even, I suspect, if the plan is to be deliberately surrealistic and dreamlike.

The purple pager strap is the most vivid image from the dream, so I could start organizing with it; but that quickly grows frustrating as it's not in itself an evocative thing and I am immediately bogged down in logistics, maps, timing, and such issues before I have any idea of the important parts of the story: i.e. What the protagonist was trying to do when he incidentally rescued people; and What is the deal with the half-siblings and the unknown father? Because though only the protagonist and one half-brother are indicated in those notes, in the dream there were definitely six.

That six is almost certainly derived from the Sims2 Tricou bastards, so I would have no solid reason to retain that specific number if I went with this as a story; but the sense of this poor desperately solitary boy, able to help everyone but himself although he has a family he's already interacting with is the emotional core of the dream, so he's certainly got more than the one half-sibling. And it's not like that's a story that wraps up with a happy reunion, either. No matter how much a kid with an unknown father wants to meet him, the reality of doing so has to be full of resentment by the nature of things.

So who is this kid?

Why is he so good at rescuing people from hurricanes?

What/who is it he's so desperately searching for? There must be some stable, loved figure in his life, someone he depends on or who is dependent on him. Someone who is now in jeopardy, or at least lost in a situation in which jeopardy is imminent. Someone who can get the credit for the kid's being so much more responsible than his father was that his actions allow something coherent to rise from the chaos of the storm.

Figure that out, everything else follows, and you've got yourself a story.

Don't figure it out, and all you've got is another mess of a dream.

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