Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dreams and Writing by Fred Lichtenberg, Guest Blogger

Today I'm pleased to welcome Fred Lichtenberg, author of Hunter's World, an upcoming release from Five Star/Cengage.

Here's a tiny bit about Hunter's World from Fred's website:

The village of Eastpoint, a close-knit Long Island community, has never been tested with a serious crime. At least, not until syndicated romance columnist John Hunter is found dead in his home, an apparent suicide. Even then, the townspeople accept the auslander’s demise in stride. But when Police Chief Hank Reed discovers a secret room filled with lewd paintings of Hunter and local married women, he wonders whether the collection was someone’s sick imagination or part of a duplicitous life.

It isn’t until the medical examiner’s official report declares that Hunter was murdered, followed by a leak of Hunter’s shocking exploits, that panic engulfs Eastpoint’s residents.

You'll find more on the website's synopsis page. There's also an excellent interview with Fred on The Big Thrill, the ezine of International Thriller Writers.


Dreams and Writing by Fred Lichtenberg, Guest Blogger

I had a dream! Actually I’ve had many dreams. Just last night I dreamt I was lost. I immediately checked and discovered my being "lost" symbolized losing one’s direction (I have a good sense of direction so I dismissed that one). The other explanation had to do with adjusting to a new situation. That’s it! Hunter’s World is being released on May 18th. I have been agonizing over the results of the hardcover, my reviews, the tour, and sales…

Last night’s dream, or rather nightmare, made perfect sense. Dreams are a relatively new phenomenon for me. Over the years, I suffered from sleep apnea. Without getting too technical, sleep apnea is a chronic medical condition in which the individual stops breathing during sleep because of an obstruction of the upper airways. Studies show that a victim of this sleep crime might have had a dream or nightmare but the obstruction of air reduces his ability to recall them. (Not bad for nightmares).

I no longer suffer from sleep apnea (a topic for another forum) and dream like crazy. I keep a pen and pad on my nightstand ready to jot down any dream that comes my way (my wife would go nuts if I recorded my dreams into my phone’s memo feature – she’s a light sleeper).

But do dreams enhance one's writing? Some of my best plots, characters and yes, names, have been created through dreams. Even dreams about our daily lives can be woven into a storyline.

So what should one do about their dreams? Don’t dismiss them. Learn to embrace your dreams. Those individuals, like me, who are curious, read about the symbolism. What makes your day tick? Sometimes dreams beat money spent in analysis.

For me, dreams unlock a host of thoughts, anxieties and creativity. I remember being stuck writing Double Trouble, a murder mystery about twins separated at birth. One brother is a hit man for the mob, the other a cop. Their meeting by chance creates tension as the hit man who stole diamonds from his boss suddenly is killed. Guess who’s on the hook for the diamonds? I was halfway through the book and hit a dead end. I mean a wall. I thought, how am I going to continue? As many writers do, I stopped, put the book aside, and worked on another, which happened to be Hunter’s World.

After finishing Hunter’s World, I revisited Double Trouble, trying to overcome my impasse. I thought about it plenty. I remember because my apneas were no longer an issue. (Ok, you want to know how I overcame my apnea. A cardiologist friend advised me to sleep on my side rather than my back – It worked!). Like an epiphany, I began getting scraps of information, albeit, in the form of symbolism, but nevertheless, enough to provide ideas for pushing the story forward. I broke through my block.

First, I added a female character who remained for most of the story. From there, I created more scenes and followed her around until I no longer needed her – how cruel! I can honestly say my dreams increased my book by a third. The story added dimension and provided me with a better night's sleep without the nightmares.

So do dreams play a significant role in writing? For me, the answer is a resounding yes. One caveat: unless you sleep alone, make sure you have a pen and pad close by. On the other hand, sleeping alone has its own benefits. Listening to your notes, rather than reading some chicken scratch, is a whole lot easier.


Thanks, Fred, for being my guest today. I love a good thriller, so I'm looking forward to reading Hunter's World.

For more information about Fred and Hunter's World, visit his website where you can read the first two chapters of the novel as well as follow the link to Fred's Facebook account. Fred is a member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Fred.

Fred - What an interesting idea: using dreams to spur one's writing. I think we often have ideas and creativity we're simply not aware of, and if our dreams help us tap that, why not? I wish you much success with Hunter's World.

Terry Odell said...

I'm a firm believer in trusting one's subconscious when writing, whether the idea comes out in a dream, or you just find something on the page and realize it's foreshadowing something you weren't even aware you were going to be writing.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good morning, Margot -- I'm have a lot of dreams (and nightmares) and have harvested a few ideas from them.

Hi Terry -- I'm often amazed at the scenes that practically write themselves...I don't know where all that comes from but I love it.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

When I taught creative writing, I suggested that students keep a pen and notebook on their nightstand. Dreams are a great source of material for writers. Good suggestion! Also, sounds like a very good murder mystery. Will definitely request it at my library.

Jacqueline Seewald

Brenda HIll said...

Enjoyed the article, Fred, and also your Hunter's World excerpt. Wishing you much success.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Jacqueline -- I keep on requesting Five Star mysteries at my library and they seem to order about half of my requests. It's always worth a try.

Hi Brenda -- thanks for dropping by.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

So far I haven't dreamed anything interesting enough for a story. And a new book release really does cause anxiety!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I hope to get another dose of that kind of anxiety someday... :)

Alice Duncan said...

Great blog, Fred! I actually took a dream workshop once. It helped me a whole lot during my life at the time. And sleep always sort of cleans out the frizzled lines of my prose, too, although I'm not sure it's because of the dreams or because of the rest :-)

Dean K Miller said...

Dreaming is a world that is completely unsensored and certainly can contribute to stories, break-throughs, and such. The challenge, if you want to use them, is to get them down without filtering the content with our conscious mind. Of course, as Fred has mentioned, you can always toss it aside if it just doesn't fit.

An interesting post to consider in our waking worlds...

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

I've been having crazy nightmares for a few weeks. I tend to dream about my fears rather than what I'm trying to create. Maybe I should write horror. Interesting post, Fred, and I like the cover for Hunters World.

Fred said...

Thank you all for taking the time to read my DREAM story. And thanks Pat for hosting the blog. I wish all of you a very sound sleep this evening - maybe we'll all get lucky and fuel a new story.

Laura M. Campbell said...

I write about the use of dreams as a writer all the time. I grew up sharing my dreams with my family, eerily similar to The Giver. It's encouraging to know I'm not off my rocker. Great insight into Fred's writing process. Thanks for sharing!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks again for being here, Fred. And I hope everyone has sweet dreams...