The Four Rules of Dreaming

A good story is like a good dream. When the sandman sprinkles his pinch of dust, it’s all we can do but to sink into sleep. Yet that magic is only so powerful. One bad beat is all it takes. Then we wake up, rub our eyes, and never return to that dream again. As sand-smiths ourselves, the question is ever: How do you keep your dreamers from waking?

Well, the first rule of dreaming is you don’t talk about dreaming. The second rule as well. Do nothing to remind dreamers your set only has three walls and no ceiling. Rewrite cardboard cutouts. Reinvigorate tropes. Don’t pause for a laugh track either—never try to convince your reader how to feel. Use your illusions, and let your story do the work.

The third rule of dreaming: Someone yells “Stop!” and the dream’s over. Give them no such reason. Don’t make dreaming painful, tedious, or boring. Reread slowly, and check your gut often. In every sentence, does your story engage? Does it engross? Does it enchant? Cut what bores. A good sentence is worth a thousand bad words.

The fourth rule of dreaming: Only two people to a dream. You and the dreamer. Not your mom. Not your critics. Not twitter. Just you and the person who pays for all that dream dust.

Above all, leave your dreamer wishing they could have that dream again.