Last Night I had the Strangest Dream

I know there are authors who’ve had great success with stories that started life as a dream, but I’m not going to be one of them.

Last night I did have the strangest dream, it involved a time travelling boyfriend, not mine…

who switched identities mid swooshy wooshy time tunnel where he hurtled between The Trenches and the sort of present you have in dreams – where something is wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on it at the time. The Queen on a bus, for instance

or that extra nose sprouting on your face. Anyway, this time swooshing was going on simultaneously with a recording of The Archers featuring my brother’s best man as a dodgy builder. My brother’s best man is a builder and no slur is implied but the most perturbing thing was that the person who said he was Kevin Richards (not his real name) didn’t look like him. It was radio, so it shouldn’t matter, but it did and with everything else going on it mattered the most.

Make a story out of that.

Probably not for middle-grade readers.

I’m astonished how authors can turn dreams into coherent fiction. I need all my consciousness to do that and still, more often than not, it turns out overpopulated and horribly complicated – a multi-limbed mess.

But I’m learning and I did wake up this morning to write the beginnings of a plan that may have legs, just the two I hope. (Although we know from the Paralympics some superhumans can do very well with one or even none). This plan has nothing to do with my dream.

I told my other half, which was a sort of mistake, like the ‘sort of present’, almost the right thing. Relating a half-baked idea produces a look of puzzlement…

What are you talking about, Mother?

that erects brick walls of no communication. I read on Twitter, where else, that ‘writing is the art of putting pictures in the readers head’. I’m not surprised that at this point in the project, I failed.

But there are pictures in my head, like in the dream, swirling round and round. At some point, if I use Gill Lewis’ clotting analogy, they will form storylines: backstories, character histories, motivations and live action which will mesh together to form a plot. Something not to be left to chance, though.  Right now, I’m enjoying imagining myself at the bottom of this maelstrom with a lasso. I hope, after months choosing the wrong pictures, which failed to clot,  my rope skills have improved. 


15 responses to “Last Night I had the Strangest Dream

  1. Got to agree with you Jan, the only dream I tried to pen in recent memory was a recurring one I have of a Shark swimming beneath my hotel bed, called Travelodge Jaws, but I could only get one incoherent page from it and couldn’t go swimming for weeks! Cracking post – in other news thank god Rory’s gone 😉 Phew!

  2. Ha ha – love it! And it’s such a comfort to know there are people out there having the same sort of whacky dreams as me. My dreams are so vivid and bizarre, that I often wake up exhausted. If i could turn my dreams into successful books,I would be a very wealthy woman. s
    PS – nice to see you blogging again.

    • Thanks, Wendy
      The queen on the bus was a recurring dream as a teenager. She was either a spy or a compulsive nail biter and I had to provide secret papers or therapy. it was stressful.

  3. Great blog. I dreamt the basic plot for my first novel (adult time travel/crime fiction) and it remains in my bottom drawer to this day. That must tell me something.
    I’m with you – really missing Rory/Arthur in my living room on a Saturday evening; SIGH! Have to say, my fave Dr Who was Jon Pertwee, though Matt Smith is running him fairly close!

  4. Never been handed a plot from a dream either. Am jealous of those that are. Best not to tell others of story ideas too early, because if they don’t like them, it can kill off our energy and enthusiasm, and then we’re just left with something flaccid that we don’t believe in any more.

    • Hi Beverley:o)
      Thank you, and soooo with you on not sharing story ideas too early. However, a sort of game we started playing on the way back from Scotland this year (we live in Southampton) is the high concept plot game, one way to play is to do the ‘meets’ thing you know Upstairs Downstairs meets In the Night Garden (now there’s a challenge and work out a story from that. We played by picking an object we were passing on the motorway challenging in itself, trucks or pylons and going from there. Can be inspirational and much better than the crossword for staying awake.

  5. Last night I dreamed that I was going up a very steep hill and lots of obstacles were getting in the way. No prizes for guessing the significance of that then. The strange bit where the dead sheep suddenly resurrected may need a bit of pondering though.

    ‘Sarah’s Sari’ didn’t come to me in a dream, but rather the absence of one. I had a poem about saris going round and around in my head and refusing to let me sleep. I suspect more stories actually begin that way.

    • You’ve got me pondering on that dead sheep, George. Right now it’s minueting with Travelodge Jaws (the tail fin has morphed into two very dainty feet) and they’re lamenting together on how misunderstood zombie sheep and lurking sharks are by the world in general.

      How’s Sarah? – She has to have her day very soon now?

  6. Hi Jan,

    Quite a dream – well done renumbering it all! I think dreams can make a good basis for a novel but that it is very rare as most are quite frankly (talking from the experiences of my own dreams) BONKERS!



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