Do You Get Story Ideas From Dreams?

I’ve always been fascinated with dreams, and I’ve had vivid dreams throughout my life. Sometimes they’re terrifying, sometimes they’re hilarious––but they’re always interesting to reflect upon.

As a writer, I find dreams important because they’re full of such unique imagery and ideas. The illogical nature of dreams is inspiring in some ways. When you’re dreaming, you often don’t stop to question what’s happening. If you suddenly turn into a chicken or the sky is rainbow you don’t stop and say, “Wait, this doesn’t make sense!” You just go along with it. (Well, sometimes you might question it and/or realize you’re dreaming, but … you get what I mean, hopefully.) Because of this, dreams can open up our imaginations in ways our conscious minds can’t.

I’ve actually had dreams before where I’ve stopped and thought, “Wait a minute … I should write a story about this!” The problem is that sometimes I wake up and don’t remember what the idea I had was. Either that, or when I wake up I realize my “bright idea” was actually incredibly stupid. (For example, one time I had a dream where I was convinced I should write a novel about zebras and it would be brilliant.)

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a complete, full-fledged idea from a dream. However, there have been moments/images in my dreams that have worked their way into my stories.

I Chose the Monster probably wouldn’t have come into existence if it wasn’t for a dream. I had pieces of the idea already, but all I had in mind so far was a vague idea of the main character, Nina––a girl fighting to survive a zombie apocalypse even though she’s suffering from a horrible disease. But otherwise, I had no sense of the other characters or what the real story was.

Fortunately, around the time I was brainstorming for this story, I had a really crazy dream. I was in some kind of Hunger Games type scenario where me and a bunch of other teenagers all had to fight to the death in a forest. First, we had to get “prepared” and we all had to wear weird costumes. I had to wear a big yellow dress with buttons sewn randomly all over the front of it. I think I also had a parasol that converted into a sword or something (???).

Ah-hem, anyway … So, we were all getting ready in a big room. And then a girl came up to me, and even though she didn’t introduce herself I somehow knew her name was Juliet. (Because … dreams are like that.) She started talking to me and said something along the lines of, “Everyone who dies today will become a ghost. And the person who wins will be a monster.” And I was like, “Whoa. That’s deep, bro.”

Upon first waking up, I didn’t think what this dream-character had said to me made much sense. But for some reason, it haunted me. I kept thinking about her and what she’d said. I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow it merged together with the idea I’d had already. And that’s when I realized what the story was missing: Juliet. Once that piece clicked, the whole story made more sense. I had to write a story about both Nina and Juliet––two young women trying to survive the zombie apocalypse together.

As for what Juliet told me in my dream, it did actually end up in the story––with some modification so that it actually made sense in context and whatnot, of course:

“It was either this or death. To kill or be killed. To give up, to fade away, to become a ghost. Or to come out here, to lose all humanity. To become like them. That was really the choice, wasn’t it? Become a ghost or become a monster. … And I chose the monster.”

As you can see, I also got my title from that quote. So, if I hadn’t had that dream, I probably would never have come up with this story or its title. Hooray for dreams!

So, how about you guys? Have you ever gotten an idea from a dream? I’d love to know!


18 thoughts on “Do You Get Story Ideas From Dreams?

  1. I loved reading your post, thank you! Yes, I too dream prolifically. I’ve had dreams that I thought would be perfect for a story, and waking they’re not, but can contain germs, to work from. The one book I’ve had published started from a dream.

    1. Same here … I tend to just get little parts/ideas out of dreams but I’ve never had a whole idea for a plot solely based on a dream. Some of my dreams have somewhat coherent “plots” but they’re a bit too bizarre to be good stories, haha. 🙂

  2. Rose

    I haven’t been paying enough attention, I guess-I didn’t know you made a blog on wordpress-do you still post in blogger?

    I write down all the dreams I remember, and most of them are pretty interesting; one a week ago or so had a certain character from a certain book I used to love to hate beginning with a T; and he wasn’t at all creepy.
    Anywho, because I write them down, I can go back and read them or just, remember them in general and write poems about them. I think the only dream that made it into an actual story though-my NaNo novel I completed and self-published-was about a girl who found her best friend dumping his parents in a swamp. Not the most happy of dreams, but it stuck with me, the feels of it, and though I changed it some to make it more positive, the gist of it stayed exactly like the dream I had.

    1. I only started this blog like a month ago, plus I haven’t been “advertising” it all that much, so that’s probably why you didn’t notice, haha. 😉 No, I abandoned my Blogger blog a while ago. I just felt that it was time for me to move on from that blog because I’d started it when I was like 16 or 17 and my writing/blogging style had changed a lot. Plus it was called “My Life as a Teenage Novelist” and I was no longer a teenager, so … 😛 I decided to go with WordPress for my new blog for a bit of a change in scenery, plus a lot of my other blogging/writing friends use WordPress and I thought it’d be more convenient.

      I go through phases where I write down my dreams, but then I tend to forget for a while. When I do make a habit of writing my dreams down I find that I remember them more often and a lot more clearly. And wow, that dream/story sounds very creepy!

  3. I feel like I must’ve had dreams which found their way into my writing somehow, but I can’t think of any examples just now. But Sparkers, way back when, used to start every chapter with a dream (every chapter was a new day, so these were actually the protagonist’s dreams from every night), and some of those dreams (which were pretty short) were actual dreams that I had while I was writing the first draft. The one I remember in particular involved someone diving gracefully out of a very tall, leafless tree in a park. The chapter dreams were still in the manuscript when I did ABNA, but fortunately (fortunately, fortunately) I was told to get rid of them soon after, and they are long gone.

  4. I dream a lot and remember dreams every night. However, nothing has turned into writing material. Also, I think it’s really sad that I never dream about my stories or characters. I think it would be so cool and it could give me ideas but it’s just never happened.
    Nice post. It made me chuckle at times. 🙂

  5. Great post 🙂 Dreams can really inspire me, and I keep a notebook by my bed just for those moments, or sometimes they are just plain weird 😀

    Though that quote was great, I can see why you used it from your dream!

  6. A few nights ago, I had a dream where I was watching a children’s movie. In the movie, people thought the protagonist kid (10 yrs old, or so) was dead because he was buried under a pile of gravel, but then he popped out from under the gravel and everyone was happy because he was okay. Then the gravel sank away, revealing all of the boy’s classmates. (I hadn’t realized they were also buried under the gravel.) All of the classmates were alive, except for the fat ethnic minority kid, who had been lying directly underneath the protagonist. (He had suffocated under the gravel.)

    I woke up feeling awful.

    Moral of the story: I don’t think the world is ready for stories inspired by my dreams.

  7. Pingback: How To Title Your Story – WordFare

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