How to Write a Dream Scene


Part One

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  1. First establish what time of day it is, where the character is located and whether the character is sleeping, in a coma, has been knocked out by a blow to the head, etc.
  2. »A.Is the character safe, comfortable and calm while having the dream?

I.       Are they in their nice and cozy room taking a nap during the day, or are they in a captors house and has been drugged; therefore they have hallucinations, even in their dream.

II.         What time of the day is it? If is during the day, they may have more appealing and shorter dreams. If it is during the night their dreams may be longer and less appealing.(Describe the Setting in more detail)

III.     Their environment can really affect their dreams. An owl hooting in the distance can change the character’s dream in a second. Maybe they were dreaming about dancing and then the next thing they know a hooting owl is in their dream. How did it get there? Subconsciously, that’s how.

Example 1:  

   Saturday night came quickly. Everyone in the house had already gone to sleep. Not me, though. At least not until two o’çlock in the morning when I realized I had school in a few hours. But how could I think about school when I had other matters to attend to. The fate of the world rested on my shoulders and I didn’t know how I can juggle this dilemma with school.
     I finally forced my body to cooperate. I slowly but surely fell asleep in my room, the only place I consider safe from harm’s way.
     The warm wool blanket covered my body beautifully. How could I ask for more? The perfect silence aided to my peace. No wonder I felt at ease.

    »B.What kind of dreaming are they having? Is it nightmare? If so, what is the main subject? Vampires? Zombies? How is it relevant to the story and overall plot?


I.      During a nightmare a character’s body might move or the character might have night sweats. Dreams can sometimes affect our bodies so show it in your scene. If it’s something really scary the character might wake up screaming.

II.         If the dream is nice and lovely, maybe have the character smile in their sleep or hold herself/himself. It is possible for the character to mouth words while their sleeping, too.

Example 2:  

    Fast into my sleep, a bright light appeared in a dream. So bright, I had never seen anything like it before. Then, I saw myself falling, the light went out and all around me was pitch black; all I could do was hold onto my body. I tossed and turned in my sleep, holding my body the same way I was holding myself in the dream.

    »C.Does the dream or nightmare jump from one subject to the next, randomly?

I.     Is there any order in the direction it’s going? Is there a point that needs to be made or is the character having a random, unorganized dream where random things are popping out of nowhere and it doesn’t make sense?

II.       Does it seem realistic or fake? Can the dream really happen or is it considered impossible. For example, a random, huge tarantula eating the character’s head can be considered fake, however if that same tarantula is the accidental experiment of a mad scientist, then it could happen.

Example 3:  

   On my right! Something hit me. Soon the light turned on again and I was blinded by what was up ahead.  Several golden stars fell from the exit of this… this hole I was falling in. Right behind me, alligators were with teeth so sharp, I’d be dead if they came anywhere near me. Will I survive? Is there anyone that can save me. Nothing made sense anymore; I closed my eyes and prepared for the worse.


Part Two

  1. How is the dream viewed?  In color? In black and white? 3-dimentional or like a cartoon?
  2. »A.How does the above affect the way the dream is presented?

    I. A colorful dream can be vivid and therefore the author can use a lot of descriptive language to describe the details, colors and what not. Allow the reader to get a great mental image.

    II.A black and white dream can be used if you don’t want it to stick out and you want it to seem bland. The main focus on this dream would be the subject at hand and how you, as the author, present it to the reader.

    III.If the dream is 3-d then it gives more of a realistic feel and it might interest the reader more. However, if it is in cartoon style then emphasis this fact. Let the reader know the character sees these images as cartoons.

    IV.Lastly, you can always combine these aspects. Maybe the dream starts off in 3-d form and becomes a cartoon through the use of dimensions or random occurrences. Or, if it starts off in black and white and then all of a sudden there’s a spark of color. These transitions can become symbolic to the dream.

Example 4:  

    A few stars nearly chopped off my right arm, those sharp points were going to kill me if I didn’t do something about it soon. I whisked myself around and  faced the hungry alligators. With a punch to each of their nose they went falling back and I began using my arms, pretending as if I was swimming. I paddled my way back to where I came, hoping the light wouldn’t go out before I made it back to safety.

   Just when I thought my life was saved, the bright light turned out once again. All around me was darkness and ….. seconds into my emotional tangle, the light turned back on, but this time everything was black and white. Plain. Nothing had color. The alligators were gone and the stars were gone, but the color…. no more.


    »B.Does the dream signify something in the characters life or does it represent something of someone else’s life?

    I. Is this dream one of those life altering dreams where it’s prophetic? Let’s say, maybe it’s the answer to life, or maybe a clue about how the character can find the long lost treasure.

    II. Does the people and the creature’s inside the dream represent anyone. Let’s a strange talking cat in the dream can represent the character’s step mother or a neon colored fish can represent his father. You decide. Connect the story anyway you like.

Example 5:  

  And right when I became used to the changes… BAM… the light went out again.  Now what? I thought. Then it hit me. In the darkness, where I only had my thoughts for comfort, I realized something. The golden stars must have represented the golden path I had to choose from. Which is the one on the far east side of my town. The alligators represents the tools I have to take on my mission, which would be swords as sharp as razor teeth. This was the answer. In order to find the long lost treasure of Ignota, I need to use my dream as a resource. I need to use my dream as a map! “Excellent,” I shouted.

    »C.What does the character do in this dream? What happens to them>

    I. Are they killed or murdered? If so, how so and who takes their place? Does the dream still go on or does it become a black hole of nothing?

    II. Does the character discover something important in his dream or does his find something that can change his real life?

    III. Is there someone on with your character? Are they enemies or friends/? How does this character help the main character out?

Example 6:  (No Example Added- but you can add one for your scene)


Part Three

  1. What happens when the character finally wakes up?
  2. »A.Is there anything specific that they do because of the dream?

    I.Do they tell all their friends and family immediately, or do they write it down in a notebook to later ponder it?

    II.Does the character do research online in order to find more information out about their dream? If so, what do they find? How does it move the plot forward?

    III. Do they try to go back to sleep to finish the dream? If so, what pills do they take, or how do they go about doing so?

Example 7:  

  I jumped out of the dream, scrambled to my feet, dashed out my room, and went to my friend Kenny’s house.
“What’s up man?” he said, waking out of his sleep.
“Dude, I found the answer. I know what I need to do know to kill the dragon and get the treasure.”
“And what’s that?”
“We need to use the sword of Agone. The steel sword. And, we need to pierce it through the dragon’s heart.'”
“How do you know?”
“I had a dream. Don’t you see, this is fate. I was the chosen one, Kenny!” Ï shouted when jumping on his bed.


    »B.And what about when the character goes to sleep again?

    I. Does the character have the same dream or do they have a continuing dream that gives out more answers.

Example 8:   (No Example Added- but you can add one for your scene)

    II. How does the dream affect his “awake-life”? Is everything in the awake life considered dull compared to the dream?

Example 9:  

   That morning I went to school like I anticipated. Today was a free day and we would have a party in practically all classes. A few hours into my day, I felt bored. Nothing seemed to make me happy. Even seeing Kenny wear a clown hat didn’t make me laugh. Call me a party-pooper, but I wish I was dreaming again. I wanted to know more about my mission. I needed an answer, any answer… and quite frankly my normal, boring life lacked them.


    »C.What are the character’s thoughts about the dream?

    I. Do they wish someone else had them or do they love their dreams? Do they consider the dreams a coincidence or fate?

Example 10:  

   I loved that dream. At first, I thought it was a nightmare, but let’s be honest… this was fate. I, Alvin Monel, is destined to slay the dragon and find the treasure. If I don’t do it, then no one can. This Saturday I plan on leaving behind everything and traveling to the far away place, alone. But I just hope I have another dream before then. I hope the dream shows me whether or not I’ll get a pretty maiden after I won. However, if I see a pig in my dream instead of a dove or a raven, then I’m screwed. If you know what I mean.


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