Catching up with Cate!!!

I am pleased and happy to welcome back one of my favorite author friends, Cate Masters, YAY!!! Not only is Cate hugely active on the writing loop circuit, she is also one of the most generous writers I have met with her encouragement and advice to other writers....and on top of that? She can still produce books like the rest of us produce pounds!!

Thanks so much for having me as a guest Rachel!

Creating the Fictive Dream

The best writing creates a continuous, seamless, alternate reality for the reader. What James Frey calls the “fictive dream.” How do we, as writers, find that dream world, entering and re-entering as we write and revise? How do we translate it to story?

In “Plot and Structure,” James Scott Bell said, “A good story transports the reader to a new place via experience. Not through arguments or facts, but through the illusion that life is taking place on the page. Not his life. Someone else’s. Your character’s lives.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

John Gardner’s “The Art of Fiction” delves further into this notion: “In the writing state—the state of inspiration—the fictive dream springs up fully alive: the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols. The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it, so that when the dream flags he can reread what he’s written and find the dream starting up again. This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things—sees them clearly—and in the act of wondering what they will do next he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.”

Whew. I’m so glad to know other writers feel the same as me. Ever start writing and not want to come out of that dream state? I have. The obligations of real life take a back seat to story when the fictive dream is flowing strong. My dog Lily will stand beside me in vain, trying to will me to take her outside to play. I tell her she has to wait, like the dishes and laundry and sometimes the cooking. When I’m deep in the flow, it’s difficult for me to find that exact wave again.

Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes the flow slows to a trickle and strands me on a rocky bed. So getting up and walking away can be a good thing. It can lend perspective, so that next time I dive in, the flow will be stronger.

But I want the reader to be right there with me in the flow, thrilling to the ups, gasping at the sharp turns, despairing at the downs. How can I grab that reader and leap from the hold of the Reality Plane into the realm of the Fictive Dream? Better, how I can make that reader want to leap with me?

The simple answer is: write a great story. James Frey said, “The power of stories is without limit.” The more complicated question is: what constitutes a great story? While different readers will have different answers, great stories share common elements: a strong lead to hook readers, a dominant objective for the main characters (even better if it’s an objective to which readers can relate), hurdles for the main characters in the form of conflict and confrontation, and an ending that will leave the reader satisfied.

Four simple components James Scott Bell refers to in “Plot & Structure” as LOCK (lead, objective, confrontation, knockout ending). An oversimplified idea for a complex process, obviously, but writers who stick with their craft will eventually learn to master these components. The journey can be long and arduous, and the best writers retrace their steps again and again through revisions. Why? To get the flow on the page to be as seamless as the imagery flowing through the writer’s head. To bring readers into the fictive dream.

My latest release reflects this idea on two levels. My contemporary novel, “Fever Dreams,” available from Eternal Press on May 7, carries readers into the fictive dream of the story, which further leads into the dream world of the heroine. Dreams allow us to delve deeper into our subconscious. Most importantly, they allow us the freedom to explore our most basic desires, and to set our imaginations free. “Fever Dreams” was a fun way to explore these concepts. The novel contains many fantasy dream sequences that allowed me to delve into the subconscious of the heroine, Diana, in a unique manner. Through her dreams, she recognizes her feelings for Cal overwhelm her reason and better judgment. She knows the relationship has wonderful elements, but in almost a sensory overload way.

Here's the book trailer:

Other upcoming releases include a fantasy novel with romantic elements called Surfacing, about a mermaid and an indie rocker. Also, a short story with magic realism elements called Winning, and two historical novels: Angels Sinners and Madmen, set in 1850s Key West, and Follow the Stars Home, centered on the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Follow my blog at for the latest news! Thanks, and sweet dreams!

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

If you can’t use the trailer, here’s the story blurb and trailer link:

When Diana Taylor changes jobs, she doesn’t expect it to change her life. Meeting Cal opens up a new world of passion. He encourages her to pursue her passion for photography. Her love overwhelms her, blurs the line between reality and dreams. But is it love or obsession?
I hope you’ll view the trailer at

Wonderful post as always, Cate! Bring on your questions and comments, people....


  1. Great post, Cate. When you get into that state of alpha your writing is wonderful. I've used dreams to good effect with plots. Some say if they go to sleep thinking of a plot problem, they wake up with the answer! Your book sounds wonderful.
    Maggi Andersen

  2. Hi Maggi! Yes, that state is almost addictive, isn't it? I could live there. :)

  3. Excellent post, Cate! I love it that you're still studying your craft, even as you're producing fabulous work. Can't wait to read your new releases!

  4. There's always room for improvement. :) Thanks so much Susan! I so appreciate your support. You're an amazing editor!

  5. Wonderful post as always, Cate. The dream state often follows me through the day when I'm not at my computer. Consequently, being so immersed in my story, I find myself walking into furniture and almost unconsiously tending to chores. Shaking off that state once caught up in the flow is something I'm reluctant to do. So, yes, I find it very addictive.

  6. In my line if work, when I'm not writing ;-), the dream state of mind is very important. If you can bring it forth in your writing, it can be a powerful influence. Love the post Cate.

  7. I know what you mean, Lorrie. Driving can be hazardous in that state! :) But sometimes mindless chores can bring it on, which sends me scrambling back to the computer.

  8. That's always the trick, Margaret. How to grab hold of the readers and jump off the cliff with them!

  9. Hi Cate,

    Great post. Here's to grabbing those readers with a great story. You've definitely mastered that!

  10. Wonderful information, Cate! I can relate to being so caught up in my writing, the real world falls away and I am completely in my made-up world. My poor husband grumbles that I'm off in Regency England again. *snicker*

  11. Aw, you're making me blush, Debra. Thanks so much.

  12. I'm lucky my husband has lots of hobbies, Tiffany. And is so understanding! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  13. Hi Cate -- always great to see you! Fascinating topic, too :).

  14. Hi Helen! Always happy to see you. :)