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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Grist for the Mill » Ideas from the dream diary.

   
Author Topic: Ideas from the dream diary.
MattLeo
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I dream story ideas all the time. Quite often I dream complete vignettes. Does this happen to anyone else?

Here's a recent dream that I had.

I dreamed I was a wizard.

One day my students come to me and one of them says, "Master, your rival is boasting that he can empty the ocean into a thimble."

"Is he now?" I say, unimpressed.

"Is that even possible?" another student asks.

"Certainly," I reply. "Nothing could be simpler, provided that the thimble is placed lower than the ocean and is sufficiently large."

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wetwilly
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I have dreamed stories a time or two. I once dreamed I saw a woman in a park and started stalking her out of compulsion. I had no idea why I was stalking her, and felt very guilty and confused about my actions. This became a short story (long since lost in a change of computers, before the days of dropbox and the cloud). It eventually became a major character trait for my MC in a novel (that I still hope to sell somewhere).
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Robert Nowall
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I kept a dream diary back in the early eighties, before the need to get up and go to work consumed my just-after-waking time. Got some pretty good ideas from it...plus some things that disturb me to this day. I did find I spent a lot of time talking to characters from TV shows or comics, though...
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MattLeo
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I had a dream last night I was a psychologist treating a patient and I hallucinated her imaginary boyfriend.
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wetwilly
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So, like, you hallucinated her hallucination? That's pretty cool.
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LDWriter2
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quote:
Originally posted by MattLeo:
I had a dream last night I was a psychologist treating a patient and I hallucinated her imaginary boyfriend.

Now that could be a futuristic way of treating patients and an intriguing tale.
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LDWriter2
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I have had some interesting dreams that could be translated into stories.

I still recall two I had something like five years ago, but I would have to write a whole novel just to plug these two scenes in.

One had a Hans Solo type of character rescuing a King and family while their space station nation was being invaded by an Empire like fleet. The "Nation"was a huge globe and people loved on different levels. The King's rooms were in the back and to one side. The Invaders came in at the front of it while the good guy had flown his small ship so it landed on a porthole, the King and family could get through.


The other scene involved an epic fantasy type of tale. Five to seven people on a Quest were fleeing an army and ran through a small seaside village that was being attacked by another small village. Everyone was using staffs, no one seemed to be winning at that point. The group had to run through the fight and one member fell into the sea as he avoided a couple of fighters. That's it, I woke up.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Cool topic idea, MattLeo, thanks.

I kept a dream diary at one time, but stopped because what I recorded began to be too weird for me.

Dreams are great sources for story ideas, though.

I'm thinking that since people are putting them in this topic that they are fair game for anyone who may be inspired by them. Right?

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MattLeo
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Well, I have no objection to people using anything I say as a basis for a story; but let's stipulate that if we mind someone using an idea we should simply say we're working on a story and then it'll be off limits.

Personally I think people overestimate the value of ideas; it's what the ideas click with in your head. Take Lou's spin on the hallucinating psychologist; it's totally different from mine. My take was that the psychologist is actually the patient, and the hallucinated boyfriend is his therapist.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Ideas are not copyrightable for just that reason, and they do tend to be overestimated by people who don't understand how writers use them.

The many different takes people can have on a single idea is one of the reasons we can have some of the writing challenges we've had. An idea is just a stepping-off point.

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extrinsic
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Dreams, daydreams, waking dreams, nightmares -- the subconscious mind's communications with the consciousness. Pack the nonconscious mind with stresses, desires, problems, the subconscious processes the wort, ferments, and yields representational meanings that, in turn, ask interpretation, like figurative language asks interpretation. Dream translation into narrative drama likewise is another meaning process step.

What does it mean?

Dreams contain personal meaning, family meaning, community meaning, collective-consciousness meaning, and global meaning. Ideally, the more universal the struggle and meaning, the more appealing a dream concept becomes for narrative purposes.

However, interpretation and translation of dreams into meaningful narrative requires, for best practice appeal, at least the same symbolic slant as the subconsciousness dream communication with the consciousness, another application step. At a least case scenario, that method appreciates humans are social beings and need meaningful social interaction which, likewise in turn, is a moral human condition crisis; that is, an existential identity crisis. Not per se a spiritual-moral belief system, a cultural-moral belief system.

Fundamental human moral values resolve upon social interaction at whatever expression of social necessity for a common good:
  • Codetermination, mutual efforts and outcomes
  • Cooperation, shared efforts and outcomes
  • Coordination, reciprocal efforts and outcomes
  • Contention, debated efforts and outcomes
  • Confliction, dissented efforts and outcomes
  • Confrontation; opposed efforts and outcomes
  • Conflagration, inflamed efforts and outcomes
Drama requires at least contention, if not confliction, confrontation, or conflagration, as do dreams, maybe not daydreams. Argumentation requires anticipation of opposition objections, problems, so to speak. Argumentation for dramatic narrative is want and problem satisfaction efforts and outcomes.

Daydreams too easily entail self-idealization, as does overly idyllic writer surrogacy narratives, and self-efficacy and self-idolization. A source of which is the everyday insecurities infirm identities impacted by social wounds inflict.

Humans dream of secure social identities, by whatever symbols and representations, tangible and concrete or intangible and abstract and along an axis between extremes, the core of which are senses of being needed and belonging to a greater social and mystical community than the self in isolation. Human social needs vary, as do human identities, approach infinity within a limited Mandelbrot set, like pi, too -- f of x = |y^(y-1)|.

Dreams risen from the subconsciousness signal symbols of social wants and problems -- the very core of meaningful drama.

For example, what might this mean drama-wise? -- not psychoanalytically, which Hatrack members are forbidden to discuss on the forums: "I had a dream last night I was a psychologist treating a patient and I hallucinated her imaginary boyfriend."

Psychologist, treating a patient, a patient, a hallucination, a boyfriend, imaginary love interest -- the motifs, each with subjective meaning, symbolic representations, what are the needs and wants and problems they could signal for a narrative? The operative motif is the psychologist shares the love interest lack and need and problem. A strong desire to meaningfully socially participate.

The symbolic motifs' representations to me, for example, are a Dickensonian tell-all-but-tell-it-slanted perception of the make-believe narrative creation process: psychologist as analyst-writer-editor, treatment as writing and revision composition, patient as a narrative project; hallucination as creativity, imaginary boyfriend as perhaps implied readers, or the very act of erecting a narrative overall -- metafictional. These ways are dreams interpreted and repackaged for prose with artful redirection.

How many degrees of separation from the tangible does the subconsciousness use? However many are needed to get a message across the minds and into useful and accessible, eventually, shape.

Otherwise, too many narratives I read contain too much daydream. Much insecurity masqueraded as security to go around. Net -- meaningful narratives' structural arc entails progress from social insecurity to security and vice versa. Maybe both congruently. I favor that latter: two steps forward, one step back, progress at a personal cost. Social progress from compromise and sacrifice for a common good.

[ May 27, 2015, 11:48 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Rust Hills, in his book WRITING IN GENERAL AND THE SHORT STORY IN PARTICULAR, encouraged night dreams as sources for stories, but disapproved of day dreams because of the wish-fulfilment aspects that don't serve fiction well at all.
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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
Rust Hills, in his book WRITING IN GENERAL AND THE SHORT STORY IN PARTICULAR, encouraged night dreams as sources for stories, but disapproved of day dreams because of the wish-fulfilment aspects that don't serve fiction well at all.

Well, I don't know about wish-fulfillment -- it's one of those critiques like "author self-insert" that are obviously true in some cases, but can never really be ruled out. Who can say there isn't an element of wish fulfillment in resurrecting the dinosaurs, interstellar travel, attending an eleven poetry-slam? The literary crime isn't the deed itself, it's the getting caught.

But I think the distinction between dream and daydream is an interesting one. Daydreams are reductive. Everything in them obviously serves a purpose. Real dreams are full of details that can be fit together in different ways.

That said I had a dream last night that I talked to Terry Pratchett shortly before he died although sadly the dream itself was not very Pratchett-esque. I don't remember our conversation but in my dream I receveived in the mail a few weeks later a typed manuscript from Pratchett.

Upon examination the first half was an unfinished Discworld novel. The second half was labeled "Poetry", but upon closer examination each of the 394 "poems" was a story idea. I flipped through to the very last "poem", titled "Time's up."

quote:
You think life's hard.
You think it's unreasonably harsh.
You think that life -- Sorry, time's up.


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extrinsic
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Many of my night dreams are urgent, entail a looming deadline and many other demanding problems. Dad, who, like me, is diabetic, says his dreams that entail problematic contentions that wake him mid night are signals from his nonconscious mind his blood sugar approaches a crisis low. Mine too. The urgency also reflects, for me, other life struggles, crises, and stressors. If there weren't so many of them, maybe I could shape a few of them into meaningful and successful narratives.
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Mecopitch
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Hm. When I dream in thick plot lines, they are usually exaggerated versions of my current or past reality.

Latest Example: In real life, I used to do analysis and database maintenance for a particular police agency. I learned of illegal gun sales and informed a superior. The next day I was contacted by an investigator within the unit that deals with that particular crime, and hence began my "night job" of surveillance and intelligence. The investigation is closed and rests in the back of my mind, where I can access the information if I need it.

Until I dream of it: More guns, more unsavory people, being asked to take someone's life so he isn't caught by the police, while the person for whom I was informing decided to change his career path and work for a dairy farm, leaving me on my own in this lake house in the middle of nowhere... With these people... That's a lot of stress to wake up to while trying to rest.

I haven't had a good night's sleep in a week.

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Disgruntled Peony
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I don't usually remember my dreams after I wake up unless my sleep has been disturbed. I've had a lot of restless nights this week, though.

Last night I dreamed about people getting turned into intelligent zombies and then trying to find things some of their human counterparts had hidden before escaping/being consumed so the zombies can themselves escape the confines of the facility they're trapped in.

I have no idea where this came from. I blame the fact that I'd consumed enough alcohol to get drunk for the first time in almost a year.

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tesknota
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During a brief few months last year when my boss had me work 6 days a week, I dreamt about work every night. Thank goodness that ended. =D
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