Friday, July 10, 2009

Free Plot Idea #53

Free Plot Idea #53

don_adams Has anyone else started finding themselves critiquing everything? Looking for turning points in movies? Studying the use of adverbs by their favorite authors?

Lately I’ve experienced a curious phenomenon. I’ve been critiquing in my sleep. Literally. The other night, I had a dream that can’t remember, but I distinctly remember thinking, “this would be a great plot. Good action, interesting characters, nice resolution. I definitely need to remember this dream.” Huh? Of course I didn’t remember it.

I’ve also caught myself editing in my dreams, working on my story. Unfortunately (or not) I don’t have implanted recording devices in my head like the characters in my story, so I can’t actually edit while I sleep. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to work on your WIP 24 hours a day?

Which of course brings me to my Free Plot Idea: Imagine a world where people “plug in” when they sleep, and their brains are harnessed to do all kinds of work. Think about it. You could write while you sleep, and then do whatever you want during waking hours. Basically a reversal of normal human activity. You could have a whole second career during sleep, your brain hooked up to a robot or something.

So then we throw in the requisite action/adventure elements and it’s a novel. Maybe during sleep, you’re a spy, or work in a classified position. You’ve uncovered a vast multi-layered conspiracy. During wake time, you tend flower gardens. [That means to write this story, you get to research flowers :)] One day you’re tending your gardens and you do something strange like cut off all the buds or mow a message into the lawn. It’s your nighttime self trying to contact your daytime self, but you don’t know that of course. Maybe nobody knows that they are being used this way. Your friends start acting strange. You become suspicious of people. Is your deli clerk really a mastermind of espionage? Is your spouse the enemy assassin? Is that annoying IRS agent IRL really your dreamstate lover and confidant? The possibilities are endless.

Of course things need to start unraveling. You discover that you are the enemy assassin, not your spouse. Your day and night selves are opposites. Perhaps the dream time persona is dealing with all your issues of childhood abuse or some other trauma that your wake time self has no recollection of. Your wake time self has to come to grips which who you really are, and make some choices about both your wake and dream time activities. Then the shit really hits the fan, because the conspiracy is real and they’re coming to get you. All the while, of course, no one believes you and you don’t even believe it yourself.

Wow, that was a lot of 2nd person writing there. Let me know if this inspires anything for you, because if anyone runs with this, I’d love to help. Or I may take it up at some point.


  1. Quite a storyline you have going.

    I understand what you mean about critiquing everything. Everytime I go to the movies I find myself studying characterization. I especially do it with my favorite authors.

    I remember seeing Monsters, Inc. When it was over I thought: what made that a good story, how did they get you to fall in love with particular monsters and hate others. Then there's Boo who never really said or did much, but you love her anyway.

    Will I ever be normal again and watch a movie and leave it thinking 'that was good' and nothing else? Will I ever read another book and not disect the dialogue? Probably not. Oh well I guess that's the price I have to pay.

  2. I've been finding myself unconsciously editing books as I read them. Taking out words that aren't necessary, tightening sentences, etc. It's really annoying. And that is an awesome story you have going there. You should run with it!!

  3. So you'll be writing that story then? You'd better. I'm intrigued by the premise.

    And yes, when you start reading your work with a critical eye, you start reading EVERYTHING with a critical eye. It can be very annoying :)

  4. How exhausting would it be to do all of that while you're sleeping?


    Great story idea.

  5. I watched "Taken" last night. I identified the turning points as I watched it, but I failed to identify the most important. The hero was exactly the same throughout the whole movie, the bad guys falling like dominoes before him. I never felt like he was in real danger at any point of the movie (or felt fear). There was never a point where he felt all hope was lost and then decided to persevere. The stakes were there, but I would have liked to see what he was willing to sacrifice to achieve his goal.
    What I did like about the movie was that the hero had no moral ambivalence about torturing and killing the bad guys (or his friends for that matter). Sometimes it's nice to see that.


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