Wednesday, 11 July 2018

What don't dreams make?

Dreams don't make good stories.

DREAMS.  DON'T  make good stories.

So I'm having a major sort out of all the rubbish in the room, and I came across an envelope on which I had scrawled some kind of story idea.  Reading it over, I'm pretty sure it was a dream, and having awakened and thought it brilliant, I'd hurriedly jotted it down before it drifted away into the mists of wakeful obscurity.

This is it:

A – cop looking for F
B – junior cop helping A + D’s dad
C – crook + F’s dad
D – servant of C
E – doctor, married to A? or other
F – girl daughter of C
G – step brother of F

C took car
D was on bike
E on motorbike


At end A+B waiting for C to move
C waiting
D+E still out looking for C
F+G left at home, no one else come back

Except that the handwritten version was in more of a grid shape and there were a couple of gaps where a piece of information had already blinked out of existence in my memory.

I mean... what is that?  How is that a story?

I am never going to do ANYTHING with that.  In the recycling it goes.  You know what, aspiring writers out there, you want this amazing story idea?  You have it.


Have you ever done anything productive with a dream?


  1. Slightly different, but I tend to groan whenever there's a dream scene *in* a story. Sometimes, they are lazy cheap tricks (our hero gets captured and loses! Ah, but it was just a dream, so we get a second go at this big confrontation), sometimes they are lazy devices (see, this is what's really going on! Their subconscious knows the truth!), and sometimes they are just weird diversions.

    Which is not to say I dislike stories about dreams - Dream London and Dream Paris by Tony Ballantyne, and Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, are awesome. But dream scenes in stories about other stuff? Most of the time, they really annoy me.

    The most productive use of dreams, I think, is not plotlines, but noticing which things terrify us in nightmares, and then using that in scary stories...

    1. Yes, I've heard this complaint before. I think it might be something Russell T Davies said in his book about writing actually. (I didn't read it - the Housemate told me). I do see the point there, and there probably isn't much call for dreams in stories, so I ashamed to say that I'm still guilty of putting them in sometimes. I have come to genuine life-changing decisions through my own dreams so I guess I feel it's legit to have a character do that too, but it's probably quite hacky.

      Interesting point about nightmares, certainly a quick way to gain access to your rawer emotions, but it's still just what you find scary and might not translate to an audience.

  2. I am reminded of waking up in the middle of the night to write down what seemed like a fantastic idea for a story. The next day I saw these words: Three vinyl sunglasses and a polar bear.

    How disappointed I was that it didn't even make grammatical sense!

    1. Hahaha! That is BRILLIANT. Oh, the subconscious mind is bizarre. How is it that it all seems to make sense at the time, but if you do manage to remember it on waking, as you piece your way back through the plot it unravels into total gibberish. My greatest gripe at dreams is that they never have an ending.

      That reminds me of a time when I was younger, somewhere between 10 and 14 I think, and I had a dream that I ran a zoo and I needed to feed the bears, but I had no idea what bears ate, so I woke up, hailed my mother, asked her what bears ate, she said 'berries, fish and picnic baskets' and I went back to sleep and fed the bears that.


I look forward to your enthusiastic and loving comment.