Dreams Into Stories

Maybe Kel’s Writing

Jim and I often tell each other about our dreams.  One of the nice things about living with him is that, for the first time in my life, I share a bed with someone who dreams nearly as vividly as I do.  Jim doesn’t remember his dreams as often as I do or in as much detail but, when he does, they’re worth hearing about.

This past weekend, Jim mentioned a particularly vivid dream to me.  Even as he was telling me, I thought “This would make an interesting element in a story.”  No.  I didn’t go and write myself a little note.  I do that sometimes, but not often.  To be honest, I react to a list of story prompts the way I do to homework assignments.  I feel I’m somehow falling short if I don’t use them all.

Yes.  I know that’s ridiculous, but that’s the way my brain works.

Anyhow, I enjoyed Jim’s tale, then went on with my morning.  My mom was visiting.  When she came out to chat over coffee, I forgot entirely about Jim’s dream.  Later, when Mom needed some down time, I parked myself on the sofa to read.  The last thing I expected was for a story to start talking to me.

When it did, I grabbed a pen and some paper.  By the time Mom came out to rejoin us, I’d covered about four pages with scribbles.  The rest of the weekend, whenever I had a moment, I did some research to fill in details.

I’ve had other stories begin with dreams.  One of these, “Behind the Curtain of Flowers,” is included in my short story collection, Curiosities.  I’ve used elements from dreams in other short stories and even novels.  Pearl and Albert, two of the main characters in the “Breaking the Wall” novels (beginning with Thirteen Orphans), first introduced themselves to me in a dream.

In fact, now that I think about it, my earliest “stories” began with telling my dreams to my sister, Ann, who would listen with drowsy interest – and maybe a little doubt as to whether I was making some of it up.  Maybe I was.  Dreams do so often suffer from continuity problems!

I haven’t quite finished writing the story I started this weekend.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take advantage of my inspiration flowing fast and hot, and get back to writing!

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4 Responses to “Dreams Into Stories”

  1. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    I’ve always had vivid dreams and I cherish them. Sometimes they are solutions to problems. Sometimes they are journeys in spirit form. Sometimes they are stories. The stories are odd, mish-mashed images loosely tied together, rarely making any logical sense.
    I loved Auntie Pearl! Albert didn’t appeal as much, although I’d love to try his chocolate 😍🍫

  2. valorandcompassion Says:

    Jane, I’ve also found dreams long on evocative imagery (great for fantasy and science-fiction settings) and story-idea kernels but short on the more left-brained stuff, especially consistency.

    An idea for a fantasy series appeared to me in a dream I had as a child, when a creepy voice called to me from deep in the earth and I descended about a zillion steps to answer the summons. It felt nightmarish as I dreamed it, but on thinking about it when I woke, I cracked up because the menacing endless stair included hilarious shag-carpeted steps, linoleum steps, and fake wood paneling at different points in my long descent! (One could make a case that these are scary décor choices, but…)

    –Margaret

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