Saturday, September 5, 2009

How Strange...

By Amber Hipple

Dreams are the soul made manifest, populated with things that our waking minds touch upon fleetingly. Only upon sitting up in bed, rubbing our sandy eyes, do we remark upon how strange a dream was. They are filled with all the joys, wonders, and tears we are capable of. Our dreams bring to the surface all the strangeness within. And strangely, we need our dreams just as we need food and air. Do we need strangeness then?

Think, dreams are fiction and our everyday lives are populated by fiction. We wander through fantasies, romances, mysteries, dramas, and action stories daily, whether on television or in a novel. All are populated with the something extraordinary. This is why we bother to write. Authors have something unusual to share or else there would be no point. This ‘unusual’ aspect is what compels us, making writing a necessity for some as much as dreaming is a necessity for all.

Lisabet tells me she sometimes dreams whole stories, and I write my best while in a trance-like haze that leaves me feeling neither here nor there but elsewhere. These two things are not so different. Each story is crafted not by our waking minds, but through the eyes of wonder and awe that characterize a dream and a dreamer. If we capture this essence, the reader is transported and absorbed.

This is the mark of a good writer. Not only can they write their dream, but they enable others to see their dream as they write it. They do not tell us of the ‘dream-like quality’ or how they ‘moved as if in a dream’, but they show us these things. Details become stark and time flows in its own way. Things are so vivid, yet misty and worlds away from our own experiences.

A good writer does not tell you how her characters feel, but lets you feel with them. You do not have to suspend disbelief in flying giraffes or extraterrestrials. You ride the flying giraffe and make love to the extraterrestrials. You have the same sense of acceptance as a dreamer but none of the disbelief of waking. The good writer makes her story seamless and delightful in this aspect even though the plot may be harrowing or heart wrenching.

Acceptance is brought on by a sense of immediacy. Whether it’s from first person or third person, regardless, the dreamer and the reader knows exactly what is happening and exactly what is being felt. We are there, we are living it. Thus, in writing, one must give their characters a three dimensional personality. They must be lifelike and flawed. The anti-hero is a perfect example of this. Even dreams are in shades of black and white.

In the knowing, and in the acceptance, there is simplicity. Everything is taken at face value. Don’t complicate a story with so many details. You don’t have to convince the reader. You must convince yourself because you are a reader. Think of it this way, if you write then you can read and most likely do so. The two are intertwined and if you, the writer, can reach that level of belief, that same characteristic found in dreams, then you are convinced.

At the end, as if waking, we set the book down. Hours have passed and daylight has dwindled to dusk. Our minds whirl and our hearts are full. We somehow feel different and disoriented. (As if in a dream) Wonderingly, we exhale one phrase. “How strange…”

Amber Hipple is a frazzled twenty-something Texas native who writes about intense emotions when she finds time in between working two jobs, going to the gym, crocheting, a demanding cat named Baloney, reading, playing video games, and her fiance. Her hobbies include collapsing from sheer exhaustion, eating over the sink, and bubble baths. She currently resides in Fort Worth but hopes to the live in Nowheresville, US at some point in her life.


  1. Hello, Amber,

    Welcome to the Grip! I just reread your post, and I love your message. Sometimes I wonder whether there is a connection between my vivid dreams and my urge to create stories. Maybe the dreams aren't always necessary--but for me, I think they are.

    Thanks again for joining us.


  2. I was keeping a dream journal for awhile earlier this year in the hopes of finding good stories. Most of my dreams were very weird and tiny snippets that jumped from one thing to another.

    I should revive the habit and start tracking my dreams again.

  3. Hi Amber,

    Wonderful post, and a great way of looking at the way some of us create our fiction.


    Ashley Lister

  4. Hi Amber!

    Welcome to our blog.

    You have a wonderful voice. I enjoyed reading your blog. I agree with what you were saying about character. I think character is the whole key to a story and how much we share in the dream of the characters life. the world of the story. And the need for strange, something larger than life.

    Hope we see you here again.


  5. Amber,

    Welcome to OGG! Good to see you here this weekend. The comparison of dreams to fiction is wonderful, and you are right. Writers create dreams that readers can easily accept. It's a wonderful, strange process, and you've captured it perfectly here.


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