Monday, March 24, 2008


I grew up listening to the oldies. Music from the 50's, 60's and 70's. When you live in the middle of nowhere that's in the middle of nowhere and detest country music, that's pretty much your only choice. The first Christian station didn't arrive until just before we moved, so I would have been about 13. By that point I had already fallen in love with The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

One song that seems to reverberate in my head is All I Have To Do Is Dream. It's the refrain that I can't ever seem to shake. I have a novel named Dream. The title is after the horse in the book, but it also fits the theme of the novel very well. Broken dreams and finding the strength to dream again.

One of the side effects of a medication I take is weird dreams. Let me tell you I have had some doozies! Including ones that resemble acid trips or I wake up so mad that I could hit something. They're always in vivid color and full of details. I don't remember most of them, just fleeting impressions. I've dreamed about my characters before, but last night I dreamed about one of my characters going to Russia. That was a first. It definitely falls into the weird category and isn't anything that I can use in this person's story. Michael, kids on roller skates, glass hotel lobbies and a hot mineral spring in the middle of Red Square are not things that one should use in novels that are set in the real world.

Every character needs to have some big dream. It makes them real, makes them human. In the horse novel, Evan had dreamed of competing at the Olympics, but a false accusation and a monkey trial left him in jail and he was stripped of all the medals he'd won in international competition. He lost his dream, the driving force in his life, the one thing that might make his father see that he really was worth something. So he has to find a new dream. Without Windswept Dreamer, his beloved horse. His is a story of a young man who refuses to grow up, and then is forced to grow up and start over in a totally foreign way of life. Imagine a lad born in Ireland the son of a filthy rich businessman who runs the family empire. Then take this spoiled rotten kid with a too big ego who grew up just outside NYC, and stick him on a Colorado cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, he has to grow up whether he likes it or not.

Nick dreams of having his own large family, providing the same type of safe haven for troubled Russian orphans that his own adoptive parents provided for him. But his past haunts him, both literally and figuratively.

Michael dreams of being the next Bing Crosby and taking Broadway by storm. He does, but he's haunted by a lost love and the tragic death of his best friend. His dreams come true, but they're empty without her.

A character's dreams are so very important. Everyone has dreams and desires. These need to translate into our writing and make us root for the character, make us want to see the dream come true. But it can't just happen, they have to work for it and strive for it, make the reader believe that this is what they truly want.

What's your character's biggest dream? The one thing they would give anything to have happen?

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