Monday, May 31, 2010

Guest - Cate Masters

Good morning, everyone! Today's guest, Cate Masters, will be discussing how we create the 'reality' behind our stories. And she has a Giveaway so you'll want to read down to that section. Enjoy!

Oh, and here's another way to be a winner. If you're a member of my newsgroup OR if you join my newsgroup you can have your name entered in a special Grand Prize drawing for my soon-to-be released book, Heartstone. Just follow the directions in the  -- Lynda Again section to see how to enter and what the prizes will be.
Thanks so much for having me as a guest on Star-Crossed Romance!

Creating the Fictive Dream

The best writing creates a continuous, seamless, alternate reality for the reader. What James Frey calls the “fictive dream.” How do we, as writers, find that dream world, entering and re-entering as we write and revise? How do we translate it to story?

In “Plot and Structure,” James Scott Bell said, “A good story transports the reader to a new place via experience. Not through arguments or facts, but through the illusion that life is taking place on the page. Not his life. Someone else’s. Your character’s lives.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

John Gardner’s “The Art of Fiction” delves further into this notion: “In the writing state—the state of inspiration—the fictive dream springs up fully alive: the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols. The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it, so that when the dream flags he can reread what he’s written and find the dream starting up again. This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things—sees them clearly—and in the act of wondering what they will do next he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.”

Whew. I’m so glad to know other writers feel the same as me. Ever start writing and not want to come out of that dream state? I have. The obligations of real life take a back seat to story when the fictive dream is flowing strong. My dog Lily will stand beside me in vain, trying to will me to take her outside to play. I tell her she has to wait, like the dishes and laundry and sometimes the cooking. When I’m deep in the flow, it’s difficult for me to find that exact wave again.

Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes the flow slows to a trickle and strands me on a rocky bed. So getting up and walking away can be a good thing. It can lend perspective, so that next time I dive in, the flow will be stronger.

But I want the reader to be right there with me in the flow, thrilling to the ups, gasping at the sharp turns, despairing at the downs. How can I grab that reader and leap from the hold of the Reality Plane into the realm of the Fictive Dream? Better, how I can make that reader want to leap with me?

The simple answer is: write a great story. James Frey said, “The power of stories is without limit.” The more complicated question is: what constitutes a great story? While different readers will have different answers, great stories share common elements: a strong lead to hook readers, a dominant objective for the main characters (even better if it’s an objective to which readers can relate), hurdles for the main characters in the form of conflict and confrontation, and an ending that will leave the reader satisfied.

Four simple components James Scott Bell refers to in “Plot & Structure” as LOCK (lead, objective, confrontation, knockout ending). An oversimplified idea for a complex process, obviously, but writers who stick with their craft will eventually learn to master these components. The journey can be long and arduous, and the best writers retrace their steps again and again through revisions. Why? To get the flow on the page to be as seamless as the imagery flowing through the writer’s head. To bring readers into the fictive dream.

My latest release reflects this idea on two levels. My contemporary novel, Fever Dreams, available from Eternal Press on May 7, carries readers into the fictive dream of the story, which further leads into the dream world of the heroine. Dreams allow us to delve deeper into our subconscious. Most importantly, they allow us the freedom to explore our most basic desires, and to set our imaginations free. Fever Dreams was a fun way to explore these concepts. The novel contains many fantasy dream sequences that allowed me to delve into the subconscious of the heroine, Diana, in a unique manner. Through her dreams, she recognizes her feelings for Cal overwhelm her reason and better judgment. She knows the relationship has wonderful elements, but in almost a sensory overload way.

Book Trailer for Fever Dreams:

When Diana Taylor changes jobs, she doesn’t expect it to change her life.
Meeting Cal
opens up a new world of passion. He encourages her to pursue her passion for photography. Her love overwhelms her, blurs the line between reality and dreams. But is it love or obsession?

Buy Link: Click on the Title Fever Dreams: OR copy & paste

I’ll give away a PDF of Fever Dreams to a commenter. If you like, share your own technique for bringing readers into the fictive dream. Or share if you’ve ever had Fever Dreams about someone you loved. :) I’ll pick a winner at random on Friday, June 5th. Please be sure to include your email address so I’ll know how to email you the PDF if you win.

Other upcoming releases include a fantasy novel with romantic elements called Surfacing, about a mermaid and an indie rocker. Also, a short story with magic realism elements called Winning. Follow my blog at for the latest news! Thanks, and sweet dreams!

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.


-- Lynda Again

Become a member of my newsgroup, enter the contest and perhaps you'll win! You'll love the prizes, trust me :-) (Note: Prizes may not appear exactly as they are shown) You can increase your chances of winning by entering every week until Heartstone is released or until June 7, whichever is later. Remember - to enter the prize drawing: You MUST be a member of my newsgroup (see how to join below) AND send me an email with Heartstone Grand Prize in the subject line AND leave a comment here.

In addition to a free e-copy of Heartstone,

the winner will receive a LED Ear Light

and a 6-in-1 Mini Desk Tool.

You'll also receive your very own Heartstone necklace!

Wookie loves lots of names to pick from and you can increase your odds of winning by entering every week until Heartstone is released. So don't delay, join my newsgroup, leave a comment for this blog and email me with the words Heartstone Grand Prize in the subject line. Wookie loves lots of names to pick from.

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Pamk said...

Hey Lynda, Tried to send you an email last week and it said your mailbox was full. Can I get through now.

Stephanie said...

Terrific post Cate! Thanks for sharing your secrets with us. I know I'm the same about making everything wait when I'm reading a good book. lol Do you find acceptence hard for specific books from pubs or do you just keep submitting until you find someone who shares your vision for your stories?

Cate Masters said...

Thanks so much Stephanie! When submitting, I always check the pub's guidelines first, but if they reject it, keep moving on till it sticks somewhere. :)

DR. NORM said...

A well written and informative article on building a dream-world and the components of good plot structure. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Pauline B Jones said...

Great post and great insight into the process. Nice trailer, too. :-)

Lynda K. Scott said...

Hi PamK, if you try again, my email should work (You're talking about my new email addy, I'm guessing). If it doesn't work, try my fallback

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Happy memorial Day!

Alice Audrey said...

It does seem like the deeper in the flow I get, the better I can visualize my story, but a lot of the time I still have to go back and layer in the kind of detail that will make it real for the reader, no matter how real it seemed to me at first writing.

Anonymous said...

GREAT Post, Cate! Very informative and clear. I can well imagine that your book FEVER DREAMS will be intriguing and fascinating, especially using those methods!

Wishing you great sales!
Hugs, Kari Thomas,

Cate Masters said...

So glad you enjoyed it, Dr. Norm. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by.

Thanks so much, Pauline! I'm partial to the trailer too, partly because my nephew gave me the guitar music, which I love. The guy on the cover doesn't hurt! :)

Oh yeah, Alice. I call those the revision blues. It takes a few rounds of those before I'm satisfied. But well worthwhile.

Much appreciated Kari!

I hope everyone's enjoying their Memorial Day holiday!

SiNn said...

I procrastinate but when im in the flow all things tend to be dismissed and the world falls all around me

as for fevered dreams ive had a few expecially when thinking of upcoming events with my SO tends to get the creativity flowing

ty for the post! was great ur books sound awesom

Cate Masters said...

It takes me awhile to work up to the flow too, SiNn. That's why I hate to be jolted from it once I'm there! It's a place outside time and reality, which is a great escape too. Thanks much!

s7anna said...

Thanks for the interesting for fevered word WOLVERINE! *sigh*


Cate Masters said...

Thanks s7anna - I agree, Hugh Jackman's enough to give anyone the fever!

Linda Andrews said...

What a great post, Cate. The only way I get to fictive dreams is through editing. Getting those words right is hard work.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your post, Cate. I don't usually watch trailers, but I did this time and it was good. I haven't had Fever Dreams about anyone. I feel cheated!

Cate Masters said...

Thanks so much, Linda. I agree, editing's where the real story shines through. Like Mark Twain said: The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. :)

Cate Masters said...

Thanks for your kind words, Patsy. Maybe you just haven't had any fever dreams yet. :) You never know when the fever will strike!

Cate Masters said...

Thanks again for having me as a guest Lynda.
I threw everyone's names into a bowl and my daughter drew out... drum roll please.... s7anna! I will email your PDF to you today.
Have a great weekend, all!

s7anna said...

Thanks Cate for the awesome giveaway.

Hope you have a great weekend.