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The effects of television before bed…

Posted by nightphoenix on July 27, 2009 in Output, Process |

…is that one’s dreams end up being a conglomeration of images from said TV shows. The oddness and non-linearness of the dream will typically depend on the variety of shows watched in a short time, and how different those shows are from each other. So what do you get when you watch half an episode of Prison Break, take a break to watch a full episode of Merlin, and then resume the PB episode?

Well, apparently you get a very unfulfilled dream. I spent most of it trying to chase down this blue-eyed psychic I’d fallen for in New York City, who had to go away for school or something. It occurs to me now that this is the second time I’ve dreamed about NYC this week…interesting. (And you know you spend too much time on Facebook when you start dreaming about using it to find someone). I was frustrated for much of it, but there was also an overarching sense of regret for an opportunity missed somewhere. There were also schooners, my dad, and people flying around with helium balloons, which my subconscious decided to throw in for kicks, I guess.

I seem to have basically five types of dream. (These are the ones that I remember, mind). The first is the “re-hash the day” dream, which the above would probably fall under. I’ll usually have these after I’ve seen a powerful movie, finished a good book, or done something new and exciting that day. Last night’s blue-eyed psychic was some bizarre combination of Michael Scofield and Mordred, and would be a prime example of that. Occasionally I will be almost lucid in these; I’ll go back and rearrange elements of the dream, but it usually doesn’t occur to me that I’m asleep. These rarely help me in my writing unless they also happen to be:

Strong emotive dreams: Those dreams where the part I really remember upon waking is whatever emotion I was feeling. Like being separated from someone and knowing I’m never going to see them again (that was last night’s). Or feeling a very strong connection with someone. Or the rush that comes from using a magic power or kicking butt with martial arts or something. Rarely lucid, as I’m too wrapped up in what my dream self is experiencing. The plot of the dream isn’t as important as the emotion, and the emotion is something I can recall later when writing a scene. If I can recreate that feeling with words, then I have something. Writing is all about evoking an emotion in a reader.

Story dreams: The dreams where I wake up and think, “That would make a great story.” I always write these down; they are my primary source of inspiration. Practically every major novel idea I’m working on now started out as a dream. Sometimes it takes more than one to create a plot. Shades, for example, was born from two completely unrelated dreams. Such dreams vary in the amount of detail they provide. Some are little more than an opening premise (Mask of Eldarmarch), a vague direction for a story to go in (Briar Rose, Pandora), or a screen shot of a powerful scene. Some are nearly complete and take only minor tweaking to make them work (Dreamcatcher, 134340). Some give me a great, complex plot that I then have to populate with people (Eagle, Falcon, Owl and Crow). Sometimes I’ll only get a great cast of characters, names and everything. (Valkaria started as dream where I met all the mice and got a sense of their personalities).

Message dreams: Where my subconscious (or someone else) is trying to tell me something. Very cryptic and symbolic. These have more to do with my spiritual life than my writing life, and are powerful when they happen. They don’t happen very often (so when they do, I tend to pay attention). Only lucid in the sense that if I am called to make an important decision, I know it’s ME and not a dream-self making that choice.

Pure lucid: These tend to happen in the morning, after I’ve woken up once and fallen back asleep. If I can hit that perfect place between sleeping and waking, I can walk out of my head. I’ve gone around the apartment like this, and a few other places. I’ve seen some truly strange things while doing this, but it’s a hard state for me to maintain. I’ll typically either slide into a true dream or wakefulness after a few minutes.

It’s not as fixed as I’m making it sound. These dream types blend together a lot, or I’ll start with one type and have it morph into something else. I decided to post last night’s dream here because that sense of regret was so strong. I think I can recreate that in a story.

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