August 9, 2016

The Dream Team

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine

What did you dream last night?  If you're like most people, you either can't remember any or don't think you dreamed at all.  The fact is, according to researchers, each of us dream every night, but the majority of them leave our memory when we wake up.  Why some dreams stick and others don't, I will leave up to the experts in physiology and psychology to explain.  I just know it has something to do with how much Taco Bell I had.

Particularly fascinating are recurring dreams, which are said to keep presenting themselves to teach us something or help us resolve some issue. For example, my most recurring dream takes me back to junior high school, where I am looking for my next class but wander the halls because I can't find my class schedule.  If, by chance, you have that same dream, please tell me where my locker is.

In any event, we tend to write off dreams as the figments of our imagination that they are, paying little heed to them.  But have you ever thought about taking a dream and turning it into a story?

These famous writers did just that.

Stephenie Meyer had no aspirations of becoming a writer until she had a vivid dream about the star-crossed lovers who became the stars of Twilight.  She merely wanted to capture the story for herself so she wouldn't forget these characters who fascinated her.

Stephen King was napping on a flight to London when he dreamed of a woman holding a writer prisoner and torturing him.  Excited by this premise, the first thing King did upon arrival was write the first 40 or 50 pages of what became Misery. 

In 1885, the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson woke him from a nightmare when he complained, "Why did you wake me?  I was dreaming a fine bogey tale."  Indeed, he was in the middle of a dream about a man transforming into a murderer, and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde soon hit the streets.

Then there's the granddaddy of all thrillers, Frankenstein. Mary Shelley had been in the company of scientists and speculators whose conversation included the occult. The resulting nightmare involved a mad scientist trying to play God by creating a man.

Before you think that dreams have only been used to advantage by writers of the paranormal, other books as diverse as Stuart Little and Sophie's Choice are said to have their origins in dreams.  I know for sure that's true of Stuart Little, but I can't substantiate Sophie's Choice.  Maybe I dreamed that one.

The point is, the premise of your next dream could just possibly become the plot for a great novel by repurposing it as a story possibility.   

Dreaming of writing the next bestseller?  Consider teaming up with your dreams and perhaps they will do some of the work for you.

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