Saturday, July 18, 2009

Do you trust your dreams?

This post is about dreams.

Oh, not those dreams about getting an offer for a movie deal while sipping margaritas by the pool. I mean the actual confused dreams of sleep and whether the dreaming mind has anything of value to offer in the way of stories. I say this because yesterday morning I woke up early with a dream-story in my mind. It seemed so perfect: unique and (almost) complete as a story. An hour later, I wasn't so sure about it anymore. Two hours later, Bah!

Now today, with some perspective, I'm interested in it again. I think what the dream gave me (that is, what I can actually remember of it) is workable as the seed of an idea, but it needs... well, it needs an entire story to go with it. Ahem.

Anyone here ever find inspriation from a dream? Real inspiration that lasted after waking up?


  1. I've been thinking about this a lot, uncanny. I had a dream this last week that was a perfect story, I could recognize in it in that half lucid state as a real humdinger. Of course, as is usual with me, within a minute after opening my eyes I could remember nothing of it at all, only that it was a story. To dream in terms of writing is, well, how you know...

    It was a moment, if nothing else.

  2. I spent some years going to a dream group. Kept a journal and talked about dreams a lot. When you make yourself wake up and write them down, you find yourself remembering them more and more. It was fascinating, illuminating, etc.
    And I did paint some of the dream images. But writing them requires altering them. There is nothing wrong with that but a dream is not a full-fledged, linear story. It's a surreal collage that is hard to put into words.
    That said, my current WIP, a YA fantasy, is based on two characters in a dream and a singular thing one of them did to the other.
    Thanks for bringing up this topic. I enjoyed it.

  3. For me it's the time just before I drop off to sleep. Right then I get these ingenious plot lines and character ideas. Sometimes I write these down. Then after a good night's sleep I examine them in the light of day. Every now and then an idea stands up to the scrutiny.

    I don't use my dreams. That's the place I usually resolve problems of the previous day. Like arguing with the agent about why they should have taken the ms ;-}

  4. Aimee: Remembering dreams is a real problem!

    Tricia: Interesting to hear from someone who is actually using dream material in their fiction. Did you find you had to make significant changes?

    Stephanie: I've heard that dreams are the mind's way of cleaning house and organizing. It produces some interesting fall-out, though, you have to admit.

  5. Yes, Diane, I did make changes in the material. But the essence of the two characters and the event as dreamed are key to how the novel is written. You might say it is the seed from which a much larger story grew.
    Much later in the process, I interviewed the characters, asking each to tell me about his/her childhood, and learned a great deal more about them. Perhaps that would be a good exercise with dream characters to see how they flesh out as story characters. Hmmmmmm, maybe I'll read back through those dream journals, searching for material......

  6. Usually, I let my dreams fade away when I wake up. Recently, though, I held onto one and based a short piece on it. In the writing, I discarded some key aspects of the dream, and added motivations and character development, but the end product wasn't bad. It makes me think about using this as a possible source of future ideas.

  7. dreams are so vivid, so realistic, because they engage so much of us: our senses, our emotions, and bits of our memories. There are times (should I even admit this?) that I don't even know it was a dream until I've confronted it a day or two later and had to stop and distinguish dream from reality.

    what's real to me, sadly, doesn't necessarily make a full-fledged story. but i do jot notes, saving them for a moment or a story-line or a scene that calls for one.


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