How to Write a Compelling Dream Sequence: The Dos and Don’ts

A dream sequence is a necessary device within many narratives and storytelling because it allows writers to add another layer to their narrative, which will be established through the use of dreams by characters.

The reason why writers find it advantageous to write such sequences into their stories is that dreams always have some sort of symbolism or other meaning that can add further context and emotionality to the story that they are writing.

For example, if a character in a movie has been dreaming about water throughout the course of the film, this may indicate that there is an emotional barrier between themselves and something else (such as death or love) and for this reason, symbols like water need to be explored deeper within the film’s script.

In order for these sorts of things to work well in a story, however, it is important that the dream sequences be written in a way that is both compelling and understandable to the average reader.

What is a Dream Sequence?

A dream sequence is a section of a story that is written in the form of a dream. The purpose of including such a sequence is to add further context and meaning to the story that is being told. Dreams are often symbolic in nature and can provide writers with another way to explore the emotional undercurrents of their story.

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How to Write a Compelling Dream Sequence: The Dos and Don’ts

The Dos of Writing Dream Sequences

There are a few things that writers need to keep in mind when writing dream sequences into their stories. Firstly, it is important to make sure that the dreams are compelling and interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention. Secondly, it is necessary to ensure that the dreams are properly integrated into the overall story and do not like they have been tacked on for the sake of adding another layer of depth to the tale. In order for this to work, it is important that dream sequences follow a few rules:

1) Make Sure That The Dreams Are Relevant – A common mistake that writers make when including dreams into their stories is to have them not matter or become irrelevant very quickly after they have been introduced. It is important that the events within a dream sequence be relevant and continue to hold meaning throughout the remainder of a story. If there does end up being some sort of irrelevance, then it may be necessary for those sequences to either fade out as more immediate matters arise (such as taking care of business in real life), or simply fade out as if they were nothing more than focused imaginings while asleep.

2) Make Sure That The Dreams Follow The Rules of The Narrative – Dreams can often be strange and abstract, which can make them difficult to integrate into a story in a way that makes sense. In order to avoid this, it is important for writers to make sure that the dream sequences follow the same rules as the rest of the narrative. For example, if there is a specific timeline that is being followed within a story, then the dreams should also adhere to that timeline. This will help to ensure that the events within a dream sequence do not feel out of place or random.

3) Tie The Dreams Into The Overall Theme – Another reason why it is important for dream sequences to be well written is that they can often be used to help explore the theme of a story. Dreams are often a way for characters to act out their subconscious desires or fears and as such, they can be helpful in developing the overall tone and feel of a narrative.

4) Use The Dreams To Shed Light On Characters – One of the most effective ways that dream sequences can be used is by using them to reveal more about the characters within a story. Dreams can often show hidden aspects of a character’s personality that may not be apparent on the surface. As such, it is important for writers to pay close attention to what is happening within dreams and use that information to help flesh out their characters further.

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5) Use The Dreams To Foreshadow Events – Another purpose of dream sequences is to foreshadow upcoming events within a story. Dreams can often be interpreted in a number of ways and as such, they can be used to hint at things that are going to happen later on. This can help to create a sense of suspense and anticipation for readers.

The Don’ts of Writing Dream Sequences

1) Do Not Use Them To Avoid Plot Development – One of the biggest dangers of using dream sequences is that writers can sometimes use them as an excuse to avoid developing the plot further. Dreams can often be strange and abstract and as such, they can be used as a way to avoid having to come up with a concrete solution to a problem. While it is perfectly acceptable to use dreams for exploring characters or for foreshadowing events, they should never be used as an excuse to avoid actual plot development.

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2) Do Not Use Dreams As A Cheap Plot Twist – One of the biggest mistakes that writers make when it comes to dreaming sequences is to use them as a way to surprise readers later on in a story. While there are times where this can work, doing so too often will only serve to cheapen their meaning and impact upon readers.

3) Do Not Forget The Consequences – Dreams do not exist in a void and as such, the effects of dreams need to be felt within real life as well (i.e., if someone receives bad news while dreaming then they will carry those feelings with them after waking up). This is especially important to remember when it comes to dreaming sequences that are used for exploring characters, as any changes that occur within a character’s personality as a result of their dreams should be reflected in their actions once they wake up.

4) Do Not Let Them Dominate The Story – Dreams can often be fascinating and as such, it is easy for writers to get carried away and focus too much on them. While dream sequences are an important part of a story, they should never be allowed to overshadow everything else that is happening. This can lead to readers feeling disconnected from the main narrative and may even cause them to lose interest in the story entirely.

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5) Do Not Be Afraid To Experiment – One of the great things about dream sequences is that they offer writers a lot of freedom when it comes to experimentation. There are no strict guidelines that need to be followed and as such, writers can play around with the format and structure of dreams in order to see what works best for their story. This can be a great way to explore the potential of a narrative and can help to add an extra level of intrigue and suspense for readers.

Final Thoughts

Dream sequences can be a powerful tool for writers when used correctly. By following the tips listed above, writers can create dream sequences that are well-written, engaging, and help to further develop their story’s plot and characters.

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