GENREALITY


June 4th, 2012 by Carrie Vaughn
Mining Dreams

Another question from Facebook:  Gregg Chamberlain asked about the “benefits and drawbacks of keeping a dream journal as a source of ideas?”

A deceptively simple question, because this topic actually comes up a lot.  Do writers dream about stories?  Do we get great ideas from dreams?  If dreaming is our subconscious mind talking to us, then it ought to be just full of strange and beautiful images, ideas, connections, and characters.

Alas, I’ve found it isn’t so.  I kept a dream journal for awhile when I was in college, but this was mostly to keep track of my intensely bizarre and detailed dreams for my own edification.  Because I do have intensely bizarre and detailed dreams, filled with medieval wars and alien invasions, magical powers and deep conspiracies.  But I’ve never knowingly based any of my writing on my dreams.  Because my dreams don’t make a whole of sense, and trying to make them make sense, enough to build a story out of them, isn’t a project I’m willing to take on.  I like writing about the world as I see it.

Dreams — even my long, detailed ones — are not narrative.  They’re chaotic, they jump around in space and time, characters change identities in the middle of them.  So while dreams may be a rich source of images or feelings, or snippets of ideas, they’re not actually a good source for stories.  An idea gleaned from a dream would have to be adjusted and manipulated until it was unrecognizable for it to make sense as a story.  And if that process works for you, that’s great.  But ideas aren’t stories, not by themselves.

So, that’s my answer, but I know other people have different experiences:  do you remember your dreams?  Do you write them down?  Do you mine them for stories?

Be Sociable, Share!

2 comments to “Mining Dreams”

  1. A. McKay
    Comment
    1
     · June 4th, 2012 at 8:57 am · Link

    Can I say yes and no. I don’t base a story out of my dreams, but I have occasionally dreamt of the story that I am writing. Then it extends the dreams. It is different for me though, because I can control most of dreams then keep them from becoming chaotic. :evil:



  2. Tobi Summers
    Comment
    2
     · June 4th, 2012 at 9:13 am · Link

    Once. I had a dream that I thought would be the perfect beginning to a murder mystery. It would have been maybe the first chapter and a half. I used it as the opening for a project in my scriptwriting class in college. Most of the time, my dreams don’t make much literary sense though (they do, however, make plenty of psychological sense, lol).



Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe without commenting