Friday, February 5, 2016

Dream sequences

The last episode of The Shannara Chronicles begins with one of the main characters having some fun and frivolity with a guy she likes.  And then she gets some flashes from when the magic tree told her to not let her emotions distract her from this quest she is on.  (If you watch the show, you know what I mean; if you don’t watch the show, don’t worry.)  Anyway, this scene goes on for three minutes or so, but about five seconds in I could tell that it was all a dream sequence.  I was about to go off on a rant about how stupid and pointless dream sequences are, when that annoying bit of my brain reminded me that “Relics” – the story I just published on Kindle over the weekend – opens with a dream sequence. 

At first I argued that my dream sequence only went on for a couple of paragraphs and not a few minutes, but that wasn’t enough.  I don’t want to be the, Well, it’s okay if I do it, type, so I started wondering why my dream sequence was okay but the one from The Shannara Chronicles wasn’t.  In my opinion, at least.  My story is about a guy with an immunity to a plague that has killed almost all the human males on the planet.  He is, more or less, the only man in a world of women.  Having survived such a disaster and being in such a position, has led to some emotional and mental strain for him.  Towards the end of the story, while he’s talking to a psychologist, he mentions how his dreams fall into two categories.  In the first, he is chasing after a naked woman, which is the opening dream sequence.  The other kinds of dreams he has are where he is being chased by naked women, and he references a scene from Month Python’sThe Meaning of Life.  So, in my defense, the dream sequence was there to help flesh out the mental state of my main character.

Now what was the point of the scene from The Shannara Chronicles?  To point out that the girl needs to focus on the quest, I guess.  But the dream wasn’t elaborate or anything.  There was no rainbow unicorn, just her and a guy playing on an old playground.  Probably, if the scene had played out when she was awake, it would have more impact as she consciously tried to suppress her raging hormones to get on with the quest.  So in my opinion, it was a scene that instead of adding to the story, actually weakened it. 

What are your thoughts on dream sequences?

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