I’ve been cooped in at home all week with a sick child. Today, Pearl is on the mend and I had the chance to hop on my trail bike and take the dogs out for a ride. When I haven’t been on the trail for awhile, I’m always amazed how the New Mexico sky and landscape ground me, and how bike riding fires up my imagination. Along the way, I came up with a writing exercise. If you feel so inspired, try it and let me know what happens.
1) Invent a new character or choose one you’re already working with. Let him fall into bed at the end of an exhausting day. As he sleeps, he has a dream. In this dream he enters a confessional–he may or may not be religious. He begins to speak to the priest on the other side of the curtain. He explains to the priest that he has discovered his three deepest yearnings. These are desires he has never admitted to anyone–including himself! He now confesses all three yearnings. Whatever these may be, they are all tied to his core sense of self, his psychology.
2) Now, wake him up.
3) He feels odd–different somehow. He knows he had an interesting dream, but he can’t remember one clue about it.
4) Put him in a situation with another character. Make sure the situation demands action, reaction, and reflection. If he recalls the dream in any way, his recollection is oblique and far less-than-conscious.
5) Finally, give him the last word and last action in the scene–in a way that expresses at least one of his yearnings–although he remains unconscious of this desire. This unconscious expression should produce some surprising results.