Dreams are a great source for plots. A lot of my plot ideas have come from adapted remembrances of dreams I’ve had. Keeping a dream journal of sorts certainly helps in this pursuit, even if you have to write up an account of your dream pretty much immediately after you wake up, lest you forget the crucial details. Nightmares can also come into play in this regard, especially since, when you think about it, there is hardly a better way to help condense and identify our own personal fears than via nightmares, in which we pretty much experience them hands-on.
Something really important to consider when writing about dreams (as I’ve found while making my NaNo outline) is to what degree they can really be experienced and how they can be brought to an end. From a psychological point of view, the brain has no means of distinguishing between dreams and reality as long as the appropriate conditions are in effect. Because of this, one could come up with a piece of fiction dealing with some interesting themes and how they could be explained via the alternate reality of dreams.
For example, dreams could be induced to help somebody relive parts of their memories, as long as the state of their mind during those memories can be replicated. However, something I find interesting is that it might also be possible to mix someone’s memories of life with memories of their dreams with this methodology. Think about it; it’s not too uncommon to hear somebody dreaming about an occasion from their past. This dream won’t be entirely accurate relatively speaking, of course, but what if the memory stopped and the scenario became completely fuelled by dreams concerning alien topics? For example, what if you were dreaming about a visit to a relative’s house, but suddenly it turned out that the front door led to an alternate universe, but everything before that was completely normal? Taking it further, what if in a moment of lucidity, you actually realized that this wasn’t how the memory went? In the unpredictable reaches of the subconscious, what would happen then?
Sorry if this sounds a bit rambly, but the reason I’m so excited about this idea is that, as I’ve already mentioned, it’s a big part of my NaNo. Not only that, but my late-night escapades over at the WW&W chat have led me to realise how understanding these mechanics has been pretty important in dealing with a pesky plot hole.
There’s so much that can come out of this… What kind of nightmares have you had, anyway? Drop me a comment down there in my comment box if you can find the time, will and/or memories. And regardless of whether you do that or not, keep on imagining. You can never really tell, after all.