Welcome back to our read of Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland where we cover the events of a great book and use them to highlight what works in writing. When last we left Chris Redston, our hero who can cross between our world and the world of dreams, Chris had decided to find Eroll, his first friend in Lael and the man Allara loves.
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Allara, Chris, and their party reach the spot behind Koraudian lines where Eroll fell, but something doesn’t feel right. As Chris and Quinnon search among the dead, Allara spots Orias, the traitor Cherazim, in the trees. As they find Eroll, who is still alive, Orias charges forward with a band of Koraudian soldiers. Quinnon flees with Eroll one way, and Chris and Allara flee another as their men die. Into the woods, Chris and Allara plunge, Koraudians at their heels. Then Allara turns and smacks her head right into a branch.
Reader Comments: Sweet, Eroll is alive. But I can’t help thinking of what Allara’s father told Chris, that eventually he’ll kill more people than he saves going about things this way. Yet it’s heroic, and right now, I’m loving the heroism.
Writer Comments: One of the things that keeps characters and a story interesting is when the status quo shifts. For the most part in Dreamlander, Chris has followed and Allara has watched over him. Now, that is shifting. Chris is calling the shots and protecting her. Challenge the status quo.
Chris sweeps Allara’s unconscious body out of harm and rolls them both behind a log to hide while the Koraudians thunder past after his fleeing horse. Her horse returns, and he mounts up with Allara. They escape, but in their flight, while Allara lies helpless in his arms, something magical happens. In her unconscious and later semi-conscious state, her walls slip, and he sees the vulnerable woman hiding behind them, the woman he’s fully aware he could irrevocably fall in love with. But she wakes, and the spell is broken. They catch up with Quinnon and the few surviving guardsmen. Eroll is with them, barely clinging to life. Allara has a terrible feeling she said something truly regrettable and dangerous to Chris as she came out of her faint, and she tries to take it back, for he could hurt her. She may not recall exactly what she confessed, but she remembers his tender expression. Tenderness above all else, pain, death, cruelty, hate, is the one thing that can undo her.
Reader Comments: Ah, the romance stuff. They’re both already in love with each other, but neither dares admit it, especially Allara. I’m willing to bet that the next time her walls get rattled, she’s going to fight like mad to keep them up and lose somewhat too. They so need each other.
Writer Comments: Word choice is a key consideration in the type of scene written and the sorts of things an author wishes to imply. Word choice, when done well, slips by undetected. Some of these in this scene are a bit grisly, like blood running in lines down Allara’s face from the cut she receives to the forehead, but there are a few key words Weiland slips in to imply romance. Some examples: lips, hipbones, feathered, softly, tongue lingering, trembled, mingled, sway. Words that draw attention to intimate parts of the body or imply tenderness or closeness help too.
Additionally, she places Chris and Allara in closer physical proximity than normal. He rolls with her against him to evade the Koraudians. She rides either in his arms or clinging to his back as they flee. He lays his bedroll near hers that night. Overall, they touch more, a major, though sometimes subtle, shift in the relationship.
Chris wakes in the hotel he’s hiding out at in Chicago. His dad calls because he had a dream where he was worried for Chris and wanted to make sure he was okay. For the first time in years, Chris lets himself feel something for his dad. Then Brooke drags him off with Mike to meet with Kaufman the hit man, who she used to date and who swears that Chris got the wrong idea. She doesn’t tell him this, however, until they’re almost there. Chris hijacks the car from her and frantically drives them away as Kaufman goes after them. Then, with Brooke and Mike on the verge of breaking with him, he finally confesses that the dreamworld exists and he took Mactalde there. They naturally refuse to believe him.
Reader Comments: Oh, Brooke, Brooke, Brooke. She’s going to be the death of Chris, I fear. His father, in Chicago, may end up being his salvation. At least, it would be awesome if he played some part in helping Chris in the end.
Writer Comments: A story becomes strong with more internal connections. In this chapter, Weiland forms another connection: Brooke. Brooke is Mike’s sister, the girl who’s been crazy over Chris for years, and now used to date the guy who is trying to kill Chris. The effect of drawing these connections creates a tighter more tense and compelling tale.