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Can Dreams Make Good Stories?
First, let us look at the basic definition of a dream as found in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary:
There are dreams as a noun and dreams as a verb. Both are valid choices here and many of us, I believe fall into two camps when it comes to dreams: Those who do and those who don’t.
I fall under the camp of someone who does dream, occasionally, but with a caveat that I will delve into in a minute. If you are like me and you have dreams while you sleep, then read on. However, if you don’t dream, do not be discouraged. You should read on as well, you’ll find the lack of dreams does not always equate to a lack of imagination or storytelling abilities.
Dreams are a fickle thing that cannot be controlled, though many will say they control their dreams all the time. I can’t speak for everyone when it comes to dreams but speaking for myself, this is what I think about turning dreams into stories.
My dreams are boring. Like, walking down the road eating ice cream or brushing my teeth in front of a mirror boring. Nothing happens in my dreams nor do I meet interesting people in them that would make me wake up in a panic from fright then think, ‘damn, I gotta write that down before I forget it.” However, I don’t think my lack of dreams that are interesting means my imagination suffers. In fact, I think it’s because I tend to either not dream at all or have boring dreams that make my brain fire on all cylinders when I’m awake. I’m over imagining and thinking during my wake-state so much so that when I sleep I’m too damn tired to do anything else but sleep! Cool, huh? Well, cool if you believe that to be true as I do.
For the rest of the world who has the kind of dream where they wake up in a cold sweat cause some demon monster they only just created in their mind was chasing them through some rain forest, if you want to tell that story, then, by all means, tell it. Just remember that a story is about more than just a dream that typically lasts only a few minutes while we are asleep. You have to be invested in the characters and plot you can build from that fleeting dream. Don’t think just because it terrified you or made you think in a different way than someone else will find it just as interesting. It might serve its purpose as it was presented to you; in dream form and nothing more. I’m not saying don’t take your dream and turn it into a story, I’m just saying don’t rely on them for your story ideas or think it’s good cause it felt that way at the time. Dreams can also be deceiving.
My suggestion would be to run the dream by a friend and then expand on that dream to inject the ideas you want to build around it to flesh it out as a story. See how they react. Do they seem as interested as you were when you woke up from your dream? Are they inquisitive about what happens next? Or do they seem disinterested and they’re looking at you with a half-raised eye-brow wondering why you’re bothering?
A facial expression or vocal inflection is worth a thousand words or can save you a thousand words. See what I did there?
As to whether or not a dream turning into a story can be good? That is purely up to your ability to take a very short dream and give it structure (meat and bones) that will turn it into a story that others will want to read. If you can do that, then sure, a dream can be a good story.
Have you written a story that came to you from a dream you once had? I’d love to hear about it and if it’s available to read somewhere, let me know, I’d love to read it as well.
Great ideas can come from anywhere, we just have to have our minds open enough to receive them, recognize them, and for heaven’s sake, write them down immediately! I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve had one second that was gone out of my head the next because I thought I’d remember it later. Don’t wait till later on an idea. The few seconds it will take you to jot down that idea will be worth its weight in gold when you can go back to it later and it’s there waiting to be written.