I am one of those people who get great story ideas from dreams. Path of Angels is due in part to a dream I had. Of course, it wasn’t cut out of whole cloth, because my dreams are strange. Scenes will happen in places that I’m familiar with, but with people that have never been to those places. Or I’ll be running in a parking ramp that’s underwater, which is filled with huge angel fish, one of which sucks my leg into its mouth. (Ya, that kind of strange.)
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, my dreams have been filled by conversations with a friend as we work through a story idea I have. These conversations have taken place in a hotel room, an abandoned warehouse, my childhood bedroom, my friend’s home, etc. Sometimes my friend looks like they do in person and sometimes they are a completely different person. But, what remains the same is this continuing conversation about the story. When I get a free moment, I’m going to start putting these ideas into Scrivener so that when I’ve completed some of my other projects I’ll be ready to write.
So this gets me to my point. Dreams can be useful, not only for story generation, but for putting life into your stories. Here are some examples of how I use dreams that aren’t necessarily story material.
Dream: When I was young, I would dream of dinosaurs walking down the alley behind my grandparent’s house. On occasion, the T-rex would try to get me and I would go up to the third floor to get away from it. The real house was only one story.
Use: Believability/suspension of belief. When reading, believability or at least suspension of belife, are big for me. Facts, especially ones I can easily Google, have to be correct or I start questioning everything about the story. A T-rex is 3 stories tall. I shouldn’t be able to look down on it from a third story window, I should be looking straight at it.
Dream: Running through an abandoned house trying to escape an unknown/unseen horror. I have this dream quite a lot actually. It involves a dilapidated house or building that I have to get through in order to find a place to hide or to escape. The structure changes from time to time. Stairs will have fallen down, doorways will be blocked off, etc.
Use: Problem solving/plot structure. These dreams are all about getting around obstacles, which sometimes pop up out of nowhere. It’s very much an exercise in problem solving. Being able to problem solve helps with getting past obstacles when plotting.
Dream: Being cheated on or cheating on a boyfriend/husband. These usually involve very heated arguments and or emotions.
Use: Character development/scene development. While I would never even entertain the thought in real life, but my characters would. These dreams help to bring scenes with strong emotions to life. My stories would be totally boring if my characters only ever thought and acted like me.
Dreams: Quite often I have the same or similar dream multiple times. Sometimes they pickup where they left off and sometimes they restart from the beginning. The dinosaur dream was one of those dreams that reoccurred, sometimes with gaps of months in between. Usually, they stop when I’ve found a “solution” or worked through every possible scenario.
Use: Continuity/plot development. Reoccurring dreams are some of my favorite, because I can “direct” changes and try out different scenarios. It helps to see what pieces are missing, what works and what doesn’t and allows for lots of do-overs.
Your turn. Have you had a dream that turned into a story idea or helped you in another way with a story?