Friday, June 4, 2010

Black Smoke and Death - Dream Sequence Blogfest

I love entering blogfests because it gives me a chance to stretch myself as an author.  Scenes that would not occur to me, or techniques that seem too hard challenge me to break out of my normal style...and that's a good thing.

Amalia T. over at Good to Begin Well, Better to End Well, thought of an interesting and difficult challenge. Today is the Dream Sequence Blogfest. I only have one dream sequence in anything I've written and I spent days on it.  I'm still not sure if I like it.

The excerpt is from my novel, Ruby Dawn. The heroine has been fighting for her neighborhood against a ruthless gang member.  He started out with vandalism, her car and clinic and when that didn't work...he tried to kill her.  He firebombed her clinic when she and Tom, her love interest were inside.  Paul and Tiny are street kids who abduct Ruby from a women's shelter to help their hurt friend, inadvertently saving her from the gang member coming to get her.  Sheila is her foster mother who died. The bowl of sea glass...represents Tom, his eyes are that color green. The dream is an a-ha moment...the character's epiphany when she realizes that through all that has happened...she wasn't alone.

Ruby Dawn
Chapter Thirty-Eight

The scenes in my dream flipped in rapid succession, like a movie on silent fast forward. I saw myself in front of my ruined car, walking through the wrecked clinic, and nailing up the plywood over the front windows. Talking to Mike in the parking lot with the paint splashed everywhere, glowing red under a bright yellow moon, I watched the flashes with startling calm.

I turned my head and I was in the clinic with Tom, watching in slow motion, as his face registered shock at the fireball flying at us. I felt the room jerk and swirl around me and suddenly I was outside the clinic, watching fiery bottles slam against the plywood windows, not going in. Then Tom and I were running down the hall, the fire licking at the walls but not touching us, never coming close.

An intense wind swirled around me, a silent tornado spinning me in circles. I stopped on a dime, instantly still, I watched two boys going through Dakota’s car, looking for something. My address. Angry, they brought guns up and fire flew out of them blinding me to the scene. I covered my eyes.

Another pull, deep in my core, and I rushed through waves of heat. I opened my eyes and saw that I stood in the shelter. All around me, mothers and children moved in slow motion, silently laughing and heading towards the back of the building. The front door opened achingly slow and I stared, panting at an approaching dark cloud.

Fear boiled in my gut and I felt a scream well in my throat, but a hand wrapped around my waist pulling me away. Tiny’s hands yanked me from the cloud, pulling me toward another door, a bright light. Behind us, the cloud receded. Billowing backwards frantically, it sucked itself back out of the door of the shelter.

Tiny walked with me and we took the room with us, spinning it like a whirling merry-go-round. Faster and faster we twirled, making me dizzy. Stopping suddenly, we stood in the Emergency Room. I saw myself wrapping Darnell’s arm. Beyond me, a dark cloud churned and slid across the walls; hungry for me.

My heart ramped up, dread squeezing my heart as I watched my dream self continue, oblivious. The cloud coalesced into the form of a man. Running he fired his gun at me. The scene jerked forward in flip book snapshots, the bullets tearing through the room in clear, rippling paths toward me. They missed as Paul pulled me down. I stared shocked as the rounds hissed by, a hair’s breath from my temple. The cloud receded again, swirling violently away, chased by Paul.

I watched, my heart ramming in my chest, as the room spun again. The wind whipping me in circles as walls rose up from the ground around me. I stopped abruptly, everything silently still. I heard my breath in my head, rapid, uncontrolled. Looking around I saw Sheila sitting at her desk in my old home. Her body lit from within. Next to her, a bowl of brilliant green sea glass sparkled with reflected light. Longingly, I walked towards her and she looked up at me and smiled. Overwhelming happiness washed over me and I reached my hand out to her.

Her voice echoed softly in my head. “This is a choosing moment, Ruby.”

I hope you enjoyed my dream sequence. Please check out the other entries at Good to Begin Well, Better to End Well.

Photograph by molesarecoming, Uploaded on September 19, 2009.


Amalia T. said...

I think you have great imagery in this, and I see what you're saying about the realization that through it all she hasn't been alone, but I wonder if this would be more powerful if it were shorter? Is there a way to condense all of these events even further? I'm assuming this comes near the end of the book, so your readers have already seen all of these events as they occurred. Maybe you could get away with even more precise flashes. I feel like this would be a great place to use sentence fragments. But I might be a fragment-a-holic :)

I really liked the image of watching Tom in slow motion as the fireball comes toward them. Thanks so much for participating!! This was a really interesting Dream!

Lydia Kang said...

Thanks for the excerpt! You really know how to make the MC and reader feel the tension!

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

I loved the flickering concept! Like Amalia - if this IS at the end then condensing some of the segments might be beneficial, but if the reader needs this then keep it as is. Either way it is interesting and makes me want to know more. I always love to see your posts!

Such a fun blogfest day!

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Saumya said...

Wow; you are a beautiful writer and I love your vivid descriptions!! I honestly felt my own heart rate picking up during this read.

P.S. Cute blog :)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Yes, dreams often do slow motion for me as well. I didn't feel your dream was too long - it caught me up and swept me along as dreams should.

Of course, my entry is long so perhaps I'm prejudiced. Or great minds run along the same track, right?

Have a look-see at my entry, Roland

Anonymous said...

I'm back at the beautiful blog! YAY! What a great setting for me to read a dream sequence.

You capture the feel of a dream very well--shutter clicks and slow motion and whirling scene changes. There are some places I think the writing could be tightened up, but that's true of us all. :-)

Nicely done!

Iapetus999 said...

Nice and intense.
The only I'd suggest is make the narrator more of an actor in the try to interact with what's happening instead of just being a victim of all of it.
Nice job!

Tessa Conte said...

Great images you have here! I particularly like how you start the dream, scenes flipping by in rapid succession.

Love your writing!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I really need to try one of these some day...

Elaine AM Smith said...

The beginning, middle and end were all electric. So pacey it made my heart race too.

arlee bird said...

This makes me want to stop blogging so much and start writing more.

Tossing It Out

Mary McDonald said...

You have some wonderful descriptions in here like 'Fear boiled in my gut' and 'Dread squeezing my heart'. Just great use of verbs to show the fear and tension.

Kris & Kels said...

I love it! How she feels so caught up in it all... it was amazing. I also (cough cough) love your blog template. ;)

<3 Kelsey Leigh

sarahjayne smythe said...

Great imagery and descriptions, and a great run up of tension. And I totally adore that last line. :) Excellent entry for the blogfest.

Cheree said...

You have great imagery here. It moved along really well. Great dream sequence.

Erin Kane Spock said...

I can imagine that type of dream where scene morphs into scene yet somehow it all makes sense. I can feel the high level of stress followed by that moment of clarity at the end. Nicely done.

Eric W. Trant said...

I thought it was nice. Punchy as always, even in your dreams.

Italicize your dream sequences.

- Eric

Kristen said...

Wonderful descriptions! It was as if I was there with her. This was really good :)

elizabeth mueller said...

Wow, this is very well written and makes me feel the sense of urgency behind her dreams--her psyche if you will. This made me think of a dream I had--darn! I should've just written that down as my dream sequence, it was way intense... I guess I can still blog about it.

Great job, I really enjoyed your piece!

Hayley said...

I think it'll have more punch if it's shorter, but other than that I'm so drawn in. I do want to know more.

Donna Hole said...

I like how this jumps and jerks from one devastating scene to another, the same as an actual dream. Just as one scene solidifies it changes; but the character keeps moving forward in the theme.

Excellent imagery and voice.


Dawn Embers said...

Great dream entry. I loved the first line and how the character describes the dream. Very well done and a more unique way to start off a dream sequence using something sort of common but adding a twist to it. Well done.

Valerie said...

Not to be a broken record, but I'm in the same camp as Amalia... I feel like this could be shorter, more streamlined and maybe staccato. There are some great visuals but it starts to feel long, and what seems like the really vital bit at the very end gets short shrift because of the sheer quantity of other images. Good scene regardless, with some very excellent moments and strong sense of movement.