Friday, August 30, 2013

ideas in the blender

The 3-Day Novel Contest looms above me, scarcely an hour away. In other time zones, 3-Dayers are scribbling happily away, having started as the stroke of midnight wavered away to echoes. But I'm going to go to bed right after this blogpost, and start fresh in the morning. I'm too old for those all-nighters.

What with one thing and another, I haven't done any outlining, research, character creation or, well, anything. The most I can say is that the house is well stocked with Healthy Snacks, veggies to take for lunches, oatcakes and scones and such. And tea. There's lots of tea.
In desperation, I'm pulling out a number of half-formed ideas, themes, tropes, characters, situations and images that I've meant to do something with at various times, but which never gelled.

-The decaying Gothic (or carpenter Gothic) mansion or castle, with unnumbered rooms
-An old woman with memories unstuck in time
-A neglected young girl in an empty house
-The heroine's journey, encountering avatars of the masculine (I've joked about this before - the Mary Sue's Journey).

So I'll see if something comes together from this. It's likely to be a Big Bag of Tropes, so I may throw in interludes with undergrad students discussing symbolism and motifs if I can remember enough of the jargon from my two years of English lit.
Now I'll go to be and hope that I dream a good opening scene. If I can work the Lovecraftian archaeology dream into this, I will.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cyclopean dreams

Warning! The following blog post contains references to a dream that I had, though I attempt to avoid a full narration of it, because other people's dreams are boring.

I can tell that I've been away from steady writing for over a week, because my dreams are getting more complex and plotty and the sets are more elaborate. When I'm writing every day (as I should) my dreams are more fragmentary and disconnected. Or at least I remember them that way. The other night my dream segued from a jumble of recent events into something fairly plotty, with impressive matte-painting sets.
The setting was an archaeological dig along the ridges of sharp mountains, with dozens of small teams excavating particular areas. I was part of a three-person team, two dark and dour scholars (male and female) and one fair and lively one (female). All three were in their twenties and had been involved with each other in ways that caused underlying tension during the dig. They worked in a hollow of crumbling earth (presumably once fertile but now barren) set amidst sharp rocks that rose up like a spiked crown around them. They must have been close to the top of the ridge, because they could look across and down at the other teams scraping away.
The excavation was of a long-gone city, and it was becoming clear that the builders had not been human (size and shape of doorways, etc.). The life of the city had abruptly stopped; there was no evidence that the builders had migrated or resettled, and it was unclear what had caused the change.
Our team had unearthed a cache of small oval objects, about the size to fit in your hand, and had laid them on a tarp below their site. My dream-character then had her own dream, in which she understood that these objects were eyes, open eyes lying there helplessly, and it would be a terrible thing if dirt fell into them. She got up and moved the tarp to a safer place, and began cleaning the objects. This activated one to display a stored memory--like a film, but surrounding the viewer rather than in two dimensions.
The memory was of several non-human, vaguely octopodish creatures playing a game that was oddly similar in look to Oranges and Lemons. The two tallest picked up the smallest (which my character understood to be the youngest, although it looked much more like a fat starfish than an octopod) and held it up between them while the middle-sized ones processed under it, singing.
It all seemed very happy and homey, until they paused and 'looked' up. The song changed and was understandable as 'He is coming'. The octopod-people rolled up and shrank into the eye-objects, and my character understood that they stopped themselves to freeze the moment so that He never arrived.
Looking down across the excavation site, she realised that all the teams had stopped what they were doing, and were looking up as the octopod-people had. At her feet, the eyes were extruding little feelers from one end, like sea-anenomes tentatively opening, and 'He is coming' was singing across the mountains.

I woke up then, thinking how Lovecraftian that was, then fell asleep again and dreamed of a zombie outbreak at an airport.
Maybe my subconscious is reminding me that the 3-Day Novel Contest is almost here and I don't have a plot, characters, or opening scene yet?