We all dream. Psychologists and psychoanalysis have categorized our dreams into seven types. They have given us the common interpretation of these kinds of dreams. Since we all dream, then so should our characters. By this we can develop our characters with a very primal and universal device and go to depths of a character’s being.
Some may be wondering about this, saying, “I was told in Creative Writing class not to use dreams in my writing.” That is not exactly the rule. What is generally considered poor story telling is to develop a scene with your main character interacting with others in very interesting and quite revealing ways only to have that main character sit up suddenly in bed in a panting panic. In other words, don’t spring a dream on your reader. It’s a violation of trust that is hard to be forgiven of. It’s like some tease with no payoff or resolution.
What you may do is describe a character going to sleep and demonstrate going deeper and deeper and then describe the dream letting the reader fully know that it is a dream. Or you may have a character tell another character about a strange dream they had the other night and then detail the aspects of the dream to them. By these means a Creative Writer can use dreams to show us what that person is really like. So let us consider the seven types of dreams and their interpretation.
- Being chased – This is the most common dream. The chase represents a threat. And while it can be a person, it is usually an emotion the dreamer is having difficulties handling in their waking life. What is chasing the dreamer, the setting of the chase, and how the dreamer feels while being chased also come into the final interpretation.
- Being late – This demonstrates a feeling of something lacking within the dreamer. It could be regarding a missed opportunity, a missing interpersonal connection, or a perceived lack of self-control in a given matter. How the dreamer feels for being late, what made him late, and what others think about the dreaming coming in late are all important.
- Naked – This usually involves a fear of exposure. The dreamer fells vulnerable to the fear that someone will learn of some secret or that others might learn the dreamer is somehow inadequate. Sometimes others notice and sometimes they don’t.
- Falling – There is a lack of security and even a lack of support with this kind of dream. Falling is usually associated with failure or fear of failure. There is a terrible feeling of a lack of control over this insecurity regarding failure.
- Flying – If falling denotes failure, then flying is success. Deep down the dreamer has a great deal of confidence and can soar over any problem. This can come from real success or a false notion of something that will work out that may not.
- Losing your teeth – There are two uses for this dream. One is a fear that the dreamer looks physically insufficient or is sexually inadequate. This all has to do with our use of the smile in engaging others. The other use of this dream has to do with a fear that we are unable to deal with a problem, or chew over some difficulty. The interpretation can be honed into one of these two with how the lack of teeth becomes a problem. Is the dreamer losing his teeth before other people, or are they unable to bite and chew on something?
- Snakes – If the dreamer fears some hidden threat, it may appear as a snake. If may be the dread of a real yet hidden fear, or it may be a simple paranoia where someone is just generally afraid that something bad is going to spoil everything and there is no real reason for this fear.
I have only used a dream once in a story. I was a chase dream. But I didn’t use it in these ways. It was used to show how the dreamer felt about a certain character. Clearly, there are different uses for dreams other than these. But let’s not neglect these applications, as they can be used to show the readers the real person in our stories. Remember that these are just broad categories and the details can be a varied as the dreamers. These are excellent places to start. Sweet dreams!