Welcome back to the read of Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland where we get to know an interesting book and learn writing techniques using it as an example.
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Chris wakes up in a Chicago psychiatric hospital with Brooke trying to convince the nurse how crazy he is and Mike trying to slow the insanity. Because Chris must voluntarily commit himself, he leaves, despite Brooke’s protests. Mike informs him that Harrison Garnett has vanished from the hospital, so Chris and Mike track him down. Harrison rants and raves about how they’re going to kill him and Chris, so Chris hides him at his dad’s. Paul is stunned but eagerly offers to help. Unlike other times, Chris feels bad for his father and makes him a deal. He will make his dad’s nightmares go away if his dad stops drinking.
Reader Comments: I’m glad Chris might be making small progress with Mike; though, Mike clearly doesn’t believe him. But his dad, that’s an even more tempting morsel. It’d be awesome if Chris and Paul can make headway.
Writer Comments: Weiland does a great thing in this chapter. After everything, especially when Chris brought her car to Lael, it would be easy to have Brooke start to believe. But she doesn’t. In fact, she seems even more adamant that Chris is insane. A lot of authors would have her start to believe. Not Weiland. Often, like in life, the wise choice is not the easy choice. We’ll see how it plays out in Dreamlander. I have high hopes.
Chris wakes in Lael in the midst of an earthquake that crumbles the palace, rips a fissure through the hill it sat upon, and topples the city walls. Mactalde and the Koraudians charge the defenseless city. All Lael can do is flee. Chris manages to get some people into skycars, but at Thyra Junction, they’re attacked again. The Koraudians also use skycars and ram them, then lower to the ground to attack the city. Again, all they can do is flee. Allara takes the people to the Cairns where they might buy some time, and Chris leads troops to occupy the Koraudians long enough for the people to escape.
Reader Comments: Sweet, everything is falling apart. I have no idea how Chris and Allara are going to pull out of this, but Weiland is not disappointing. It’s going to be a huge fight to victory.
Writer Comments: In this chapter, things happen very quickly. Chaos reigns. Descriptions come in vivid snippets. Narration should mirror character experience. In the midst of frantic, world-falling-apart moments, the way the story is written should represent that with shorter sentences, vivid but brief snatches of description. The story should remain clear, but play with sentence construction to match the feel you wish to evoke.
In Thyra Junction, Chris finds himself the one man the weary and wounded soldiers will follow. Through the smoke and gunfire, he leads them to the king. But when he spots Mactalde descending from a skycar in the distance, he races away to kill him. Orias stops him as the Koraudians cut the skycar cables and send the massive glass vehicles crashing down onto the city. Then the Koraudians close on the king. Chris races to rescue him, one man against a whole army. Orias demands he retreat so he too will not fall into enemy hands. But after Chris’s dad walked away when he was twelve, Chris swore he would never walk away. Reluctantly, he leaves the king to the Koraudians and flees to Allara and the Cairns. Hot on his heels the Koraudians come with the king, and Mactalde gives them one choice: They can have their king if they give him the Gifted.
Reader Comments: I love how everyone is actually starting to follow Chris and believe in him. I suspect this is due to the fact that they have to believe in something, and by this point, Chris has proven courageous and good. But here soon, Chris is going to have to accept all this. He’s going to have to stop thinking like a desperate man and start thinking like a leader.
Writer Comments: Some of my favorite writing books are written by agent Donald Maass. In one of them, Writing the Breakout Novel, he advises figuring out the one thing the protagonist would never do, then finding a way to make him do it. What is the one thing Chris would never do? Walk away. What is the thing Weiland forces him to do in this chapter? Walk away. I suspect the emotional impact will be significant.