Dreams can range from the surreal to the fantastic. Your nightly travels can be frightening, exciting, depressing, and engaging. Whatever theme your dreams have, the concept of dreams can be an excellent motivational tool for your fiction.
Dreams work well as tools within your fiction for quite a few reasons. For example, well-described dream can help set mood and tone of any fiction piece. Take Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, for example, where Harry’s inner turmoil was accentuated by Voldemort’s pursuit of his inner consciousness. A good dream can also shed light on a character’s motivation or “inner being,” something that may not be readily apparent to other characters or the reader. Sometimes dreams can be prophetic; the lack of dreams can also be quite telling of a character’s distress or fear.
One tool that you can use to describe and build a character’s dream is, of course, a dream dictionary. Dream dictionaries often claim to shed light on Jungian and archetypal dream symbols. By looking up definitions of different objects in any dream, you can hypothetically piece together what the dream means. Whether or not you buy into the whole philosophy that your dreams are actually subconscious messages is entirely up to you, but the concept can be excellent fodder for characters within your stories.
Another method for utilizing dreams in your fiction, or as a motivation to write, would be to keep a dream journal. Explore what dream journals have to offer your characters by using one for your own dreams. Simply, find a unique journal and keep it next to your bed with a pen. After waking up from your night terror or amazing fantasy, write it down immediately. You may find that when you’re awake, you may not be able to read your handwriting. Diligently keeping a dream journal will take time, but the rewards could outweigh your initial discomfort, simply because you are getting into the habit of capturing something that has motivated you to write. Taking those raw emotions and images and turning them inside out on paper is always a good thing. Always.
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, you may want to conduct more research and verify your online sources, in order to make an informed decision about dreaming. For more information about sleep, dreams and dreaming, Discovery Health has a really well done sleep and dreams information center that has articles about research, sleep disorders, etc. In one of Discovery Health’s articles, a dream expert talks about why we dream, and her scientific explanation could help shape your opinions about dreams and dreams interpretation.