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Literature The "It's all a dream" and other such cop-outs

StoneWolf18

Within the Depths of a Dream
So, I had been going through Pinterest on yet another pinning spree (I really need to stop 0-0) and I came across something that sparked an old hatred of mine. I'll show the image here in a second but what can be inferred from the title is that I DESPISE with every fiber of my being.

Blaming the events of a story or any other work of fiction on a dream, drug induced hallucinations, what have you.

IMG_3990.JPG

Now, this is primarily seen, from what I have read, young adult to teen or even children fiction and it bothers me to no end. Why world build, plot, and develop characters only to toss it all out the window by saying "oh by the way, all that never really happened." Want an example? Maximum Ride. That series was a complete and utter mess in my opinion, which I can dedicate a whole other thread to rant in, but the main point is....

At the end of the first book, the author explains in a random and unnecessary twist that ALL OF THE EVENTS FROM THE BEGINING OF THE BOOK WERE SOME TRIPPY DREAM ALL THE CHARACTERS WERE SHARING SOMEHOW.

I mean, we've all most likely done it at one point or another. I, admittedly, did when I was very young and didn't know better. But what purpose does this actually serve? Getting the characters out of a situation you didn't mean to get the into? Adding some twist to spark curiosity when it was wholly unnecessary?

I'm curious what others think of this tact and if its viable in litature. Depending upon the situation I'm sure it could possible make sense, but to throw it in where it doesn't... whats the point?
 

Hall Kervean

Two Thousand Club
Because we teens think it's funny to throw you for a loop.
After all, we weren't planning to continue that world after that one essay, anyways.
And even if we were, we can just write off that essay as "non-canon."
Plus, it's an easy, cheap "plot twist."
And also realism.

But for published works, I understand your pain.
I read some book that went all over the place.
First, it was discussing some worldbuilding, Nazis won WWII stuff.
Then, the dimensions are folding in on each other.
Now, there's people who are in all dimensions at the same time, but are conscious of themselves in every dimension!
Boom! Dimension traveling; screw the worldbuilding, we never go back there anyways!
Now, stuff about the meaning of happiness!
Oh no! America disappeared!
Just kidding; everything everywhere is a simulation!

No kidding, that was pretty much the book.
It was one of the worst books I ever read.
 
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Myrta

Junior Member
I think that it's because people tend to have this strange idea that fantasy/sci-fi/supernatural settings aren't ~real literature~, whatever that means. That you can't write anything of value if you choose something out of normalcy. Yet, hypocritically, they think that it's actually fun, so they go for a cheap cop out by pretending that what happened isn't actually real. Bonus points: They also get to pretend that their work is deeper than it is by inserting some faux symbolism and psychology.

Then there are the ones who genuinely think that this is still an original plot twist which is pretty sad.

Maybe I'm just being too negative, but similarly to you, I just really really hate this trend.
 

jinkx

amateur sleuth
It's the laziest technique, used only by those that can't write a good ending or can't explain the events of their story. It's just the quickest way to explain everything without putting thought into it. That's just my opinion on the matter.
 

TheRockInception

You're literally looking at a $2,000 meme machine
Not entirely sure this counts, but one of my favorite rock anthems/operas of all time literally follows this sort of path. Either give the album a listen or read the story here.
 

StoneWolf18

Within the Depths of a Dream
Not entirely sure this counts, but one of my favorite rock anthems/operas of all time literally follows this sort of path. Either give the album a listen or read the story here.
This might be a bit different because from what I can tell, the events actually happened as opposed to being summed up as a "dream" or otherwise false experience.
 

TheRockInception

You're literally looking at a $2,000 meme machine
You know, I'm kind of interested in the dream ending though, or rather with a beginning. I think it serves as an important reminder that no matter how far from reality in our own heads we can get, we can never get away from the real world and its problems.
 

StoneWolf18

Within the Depths of a Dream
You know, I'm kind of interested in the dream ending though, or rather with a beginning. I think it serves as an important reminder that no matter how far from reality in our own heads we can get, we can never get away from the real world and its problems.
And there are a few situations where that is highlighted but I believe most boil down to what Myrta Myrta said...
Bonus points: They also get to pretend that their work is deeper than it is by inserting some faux symbolism and psychology.
 

Conflude

New Member
I think it does have it's uses. Like the example you posted said. People were afraid to commit outside of normalcy, the keyword being commit. When you wake up your character from a dream of a crazy and deadly world you free yourself from the commitment it takes to 'feed' that said world. Those universes take up so much of your energy to keep alive that most people would opt out for the simpler ending. I know this isn't Literature but you could take for example the movie 'SuckerPunch' Where it's not meant to be true, that world had some explaining to do for itself so when there is no need for a sequel or some sort of continuation it would be best to give the viewer some closure. I think it's meant to deliver quick closure not satisfaction.
 

Hall Kervean

Two Thousand Club
Had a revelation in... english class today.
What if they only half opt-out?
Say, they build a world and characters and such, then say "and it was aaaaall a dream."
Then they say "well, actually, some of the characters and whatever world was dreamed was actually real, but some of the characters and the actions that took place were fake.
Is that an opt-out? A half opt-out? Or is it just not an opt-out?
 

StoneWolf18

Within the Depths of a Dream
Had a revelation in... english class today.
What if they only half opt-out?
Say, they build a world and characters and such, then say "and it was aaaaall a dream."
Then they say "well, actually, some of the characters and whatever world was dreamed was actually real, but some of the characters and the actions that took place were fake.
Is that an opt-out? A half opt-out? Or is it just not an opt-out?
Ah, so the world is real, just the events took place in the dream or trip.

I would depend, in my opinion. Cause if something huge and character developing occurred in the false reality, then it would technically be thrown away.
 

Venom Adhamm

No one is ever going to want me
There has been only one scenario I've seen where doing something like this actually works, which is in a game called Spec Ops: The Line.

Basically, throughout the entire game the main character, Walker, is going through Dubai looking for a man named Konrad who is responsible for a bunch of really horrible stuff that happens. However, at the end of the game, Walker only finds Konrad's corpse, and it's revealed that the Konrad you hear talking to you over the radio throughout the game is actually just a result of Walker being horribly traumatized after a certain event in the game and developing a dissociative disorder. It turns out that all the horrific events in the game that seemed to be caused by Konrad were actually caused by Walker, and the events themselves were modified by his psyche so that he didn't have to accept responsibility for the horrible things he's done.
 
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Ironrot

Let's see where this leads...
Ah, so the world is real, just the events took place in the dream or trip.

I would depend, in my opinion. Cause if something huge and character developing occurred in the false reality, then it would technically be thrown away.
I quite like stories set in dreams that establish the dream at the start. It eliminates the corny twist and you can work in elements from the outside that someone's hearing in an unconscious state. It's a good setting to break reality.

That said, it should only happen when you're intending to keep the whole story there or if you can reliably bring elements of the dream back into the real world through character building
 

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