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!