Critique Group – Dreamer

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Dreamer – by Tyler

The day was aged.

The sun hung low on the horizon, like a golden teardrop waiting to drip off the edge of the earth into the dark abyss below.  I watched trees dancing in the wind and the grass flow in ripples through the park.  Children screamed in joy, bouncing across the playground in a lively game.

I sighed, leaning back against the old, wooden bench.  The sweet scent of honey filtered into my nostrils, and I smiled gleefully.  Life was good.

It was a pity this was only a dream.

My eyes were wide, but they didn’t see.  They were blank orbs floating in the vacuum of space, useless.  My surroundings encroached on me, seeping into my hollow body and filling me with life.  It was omniscience… the thrilling sensation of knowing and seeing all.  I saw without sight… I felt without fingers.  I was, but I wasn’t.  It was the mystery of the unconscious.

A man in a stylish, black fedora lounged on a bench several meters in front of me.  I had been following him all day.  He fingered his sharp, ironed suit coat nervously.  A pigeon landed on the back of his bench, startling him.  It cooed and cocked its head, as if questioning the man’s existence.  It only lived to feed and be fed.  How was it supposed to understand?

The man turned his head to look behind him.

I covered my face with my hood.  I couldn’t let him know my identity.  From above, I watched myself hide.  I was huddled in a ball on the bench, a blob of clothing unseen by any except myself.  I waited until the man turned back before looking up again.

Shrugging his shoulders, the man stood.  I copied his movements, preparing to keep up the chase.  He strode down the narrow path toward his apartment in the city.

I followed him closely, stepping through his door just before it closed.  I surveyed the room in a split second, though it felt like an hour.  It was large… larger than I had expected.  A glass chandelier dangled from the ceiling, casting bright light into every corner of the room.  It twinkled like the stars in the heavens.  The round, glowing moon nestled itself amidst the stars, bringing life to the world below it.

I watched the man walk into his kitchen.  He tossed his green overcoat onto a brown sofa and disappeared from my view.

I waited in that room for a long time.  I was waiting for him to come out, to acknowledge my presence.

He never did.

The child walked out of the bedroom and picked up his green overcoat.  He hid his face from my view, approaching me with the caution of a rattlesnake.  He handed me the coat as a token of friendship and ran away.

This dream was becoming confusing.  Now that I thought about it, I realized that this really was a dream.  Things were too abnormal to make sense.

I stood up and walked into my kitchen.  I opened the fridge and grabbed a big, white cake.  Licking my lips, I set it on the table and cut it into sections.  I carefully extracted a fat wedge and laid it on my plate.  I was just about to indulge my ravenous appetite, when the man walked into the room again.

He faced away from me, still hiding his face.  Deciding that the time for confrontation was now, I tapped him on the shoulder.

“Excuse me… what are you doing here?”

He replied in a garbled voice, as if he was gurgling caramel.  “This is my house.”

“No!”  I shouted.  “You can’t come into my house and claim it as your own!  I own this place!  It’s mine!”

The man turned around and stared at me.

He was me.

My face was a vacuous void, swirling in both directions.  I could not see my face, but I could see myself.  My soul was in him, my mind was his mind.

I was him.

“You villain!”  I screamed.  I grabbed a knife from a sheath on his belt and plunged it into his chest.  He gasped, falling to his knees.

Suddenly exhausted, I released the handle of the knife, staring at his fallen body.  A thin line of blood trickled from the wound.  A ring of keys hung at his belt, glinting in the light of the sun.  I reached down and yanked them off his belt.

I fingered them excitedly, shuffling over to the door.  Finding the correct one, I inserted it into the lock.  A loud click sounded, echoing through the hallway.  I peeked out, and not seeing anyone, I dashed away as fast as I could.



“Hello, my name is John Judson with Vision Central News, bringing you the most talked about topic of the day.”  The handsome man on the screen grinned, his teeth gleaming white.  His face quickly melted into a grim visage as he continued speaking.
“We have recently been informed that a convicted serial killer has escaped from maximum security at Ipsol Prison thirty minutes ago.  The man goes by the name of Simon Ash and was last seen climbing the fence at the prison and disappearing into the woods, shortly after stabbing a guard to death with the fork from his evening meal.  Security footage at a nearby seven-eleven shows him hijacking a black Toyota Camry, license number unknown, and driving away.  Police authorities are still investigating this man’s history, but it appears he was convicted of multiple murder in 2021 and sentenced to life in prison.  According to the medical practitioners at the prison, he suffers from several psychological disorders, which…”

I giggled, staring at the TV with the fascination of a five year-old.  A picture of a man appeared in the corner of the screen.  I stared at it, struck with sudden intrigue.

It was the man!

I patted my face restlessly.  I needed to see him again.  I had to warn him of this murderer that was on the loose.  The streets wouldn’t be safe until he was found!

I wasn’t worried, though… I knew I would see him soon…

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12 replies

  1. Tyler, I read down to the break – I am short on time. You have a gift for painting a picture. You did a beautiful job of it. The dripping sun is a work of art.

    Two VERY minor things:

    “In the city” seemed superfluous. I think it disrupts the flow of the sentence.

    “Villian” seemed archaic and brought to my mind the Rocky and Bullwinkle show.

    You did a great job on this piece.


  2. Tyler,
    Intriguing but confusing.
    I get that dreams are more subconscious images than plot but maybe try to explain a bit more so that the reader doesn’t lose interest. I was kinda tracking with you until the child came out of the bathroom. At that point I decided to forget story and just figure out the images you were depicting. It became too abstract. Hard to follow. Maybe describe it like you were trying to explain your dream do someone, it would help the reader.

    The second part was easier to understand but the last few paragraphs were hard to understand. Is the ‘I’ the same man from the dream or the serial killer or another person entirely? I love mystery but clarification would help.

    Great details and imagery in your writing though it tends to get almost poetic especially your first few lines. Take it from a reforming over wordy writer, simple is often better.

    Good stuff, can’t wait to see where you take the story.

  3. Tyler,

    I think I understand your piece, but I’m not sure and (from what I’ve read) you don’t intend for the reader to understand. It’s supposed to be confusing here at the beginning, but I would be careful if I were you. Keep a reader confused too long and they will lose interest and quit reading.

    Great imagery and feeling. I also like how you are portraying the dream because, as you say, it isn’t rational/shouldn’t make sense. When have dreams ever made sense?

    Love it and keep going!!

  4. Tyler,

    You write excellent prose and vivid scenes, so I won’t comment on detail issues.

    My problem with the story is that it had no hook for me. I don’t mind starting with a dream scene as long as it has some kind of real-feeling story aspect, that is, a character doing something that interests me. In the case of your story, I couldn’t detect any part of the dreamscape that I could follow.

    In the final section, one part confused me – “It was the man!”

    What man? The only man in the dream was the dreamer, which I assume is the same as the person watching the TV.

    In any case, my advice is either to start at another point in the tale or else make the dream more concrete.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. Review of “Dreamer” by Tyler

    “The day was aged.” I think the fact is that it’s late in the day, which is confirmed by the next sentence. But the phrase makes cheese come to mind, which may not be what you intend.

    In his book “The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (And How to Avoid them),” Jack Bickham says “Don’t describe sunsets.” That may apply here, but since it’s only a single sentence (and a beautifully poetic one at that), I have a hard time saying you should nix it. Perhaps it should stay, to help set the tone, if the remaining text is meant to be beautiful and dreamlike. (Post-script: Perhaps you are showing the beautiful mind of one personality, in which case this sentence may be crucial to keep.)

    I’m several paragraphs in, not yet sure what the story goal is. To follow the guy? To kill him?

    What the heck? I’m totally confused. “He is me”? I personally get confused by psychological twists. (For example, Ted Dekker’s “Thr3e” really messed me up and I felt cheated at the end.)

    OK, now that I have read to the end, I understand the initial passage. Personally, I probably wouldn’t read a book like this, because it’s just not my favorite genre. (See comment about “Thr3e”.)

    I still am not sure what the story goal is.

    Writing is hard. Submitting for critique is harder. Thanks for bringing this to us. (My favorite part was, incidentally, your beautiful description of the sunset. How’s that for irony?) 🙂

    PS-I like small books with lists. has helped me grow a lot as a writer, and it’s short, which is good for my distracted brain. 🙂

  6. It was good. Nothing I could see or struck me needed my help of course I do have migraine because of my puppy so it hurts to think but nothing stood out too me. So I’ll reread it tomorrow after school and give advice if i think it needs it

  7. Alright reread it nothing stood out i was confused yesterday but that was from my migraine (can’t think at all without feeling sick) but I can follow and understand it now

  8. I love the sentence about it all being a dream. It was a nice shock. However, I found myself confused about how each of the parts connect, and about who’s who. And the description of the sun made it seem like you were starting on a sad note, but then the other descriptions were positive and your character was enjoying the day. So maybe “teardrop” isn’t the best way to set the mood of the first scene. But I like your idea. If you keep at it, I can it’ll make for a fine story.

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