How To Use Dreams To Structure Short Stories
Do you jot down the outline of your dreams when you wake? If , like me, you experience a rich imaginary world in your dreams, full of inexplicable detail, you will have discovered a vast untapped resource for writing.
So, let’s look at a basic structure for a short story.
A hero sets out to complete a task and encounters problems along the way. Finally he achieves a result after many trials are overcome.
That is a simplified and very basic outline. The resolution may be positive — the hero gets to save the maiden in distress, or it may be negative — the hero is lost at sea.
There must be a strong beginning, an interesting middle section and preferably an unexpected twist at the end.
Here is where we drift into the unexpected. Welcome to the world of my latest dream
My husband and I had to rent two cars to undertake a long journey. We were going to travel across Europe to Estonia or Macedonia or some other place with a name ending in ‘onia’. He hired a Mercedes Benz, and I got a very economic little runabout. ( The car choices give you some indication of our characters — he is very much a ‘buy the biggest and best’ kind of guy, while I like value for money)
We set off, but only realized while already on the journey that we had neglected to renew our passports and forgotten to get the appropriate insurance documents.
We were tasked to collect a group of people and bring them back to the UK.
There you have it.
The basic outline of a story.
You have to fill in the gaps.
Why did we have to rent two cars when a small mini bus would have been more appropriate and would allow us to share the driving?
Why was it so important that we set out immediately without taking the time to plan? (Wouldn’t it have been much easier to just send them some money so they could get the train back? My logical brain kicking in).
It might be quite dangerous crossing borders surreptitiously without passports. Do we need to be armed?
What had the people done that they needed to get out in such a hurry? What was their connection to us?
Were we being paid by a gang to complete this task?
Was it related to drug trafficking, or horror of horrors, people trafficking?
I think there is enough material there for several stories, don’t you?
Keep that notebook by your bedside and jot down those dreams. You might be surprised by the way they inspire you.