Yesterday I list a few reasons why you should avoid using dream sequences in your novel, but just like anything else, there are no absolutes in writing. While you should generally avoid including characters’ dreams in your fiction, there are a few times when it’s okay.
It basically comes down to these three thing:
Does it affect the plot?
Could your story survive without the dreams? If so, then don’t include them. But if the dreams are a necessary part of your story, then they are obviously okay or even required. For example, the dream scenes in any of the Friday the 13th movies were pointless. The dream scenes in any of Nightmare on Elm Street movies were required, since the story revolved around the dreams.
Does it affect the setting?
By that, I mean one of two things: Do the dreams alter reality in any way? Or are the dreams themselves part of the setting? These would be the stories that either blur the line between dream and reality or stuff where the dream world is a real place with real people. Stuff like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics or for something more obscure, try this awesome novel called Pawn’s Dream by Eric Nylund.
Does it affect the characters?
Finally, do the dreams affect the characters in ways that couldn’t be done otherwise. I’m not talking about using dreams to help characters remember something or for character development, but for something more tangible. Say a character has dreams of future events, like in any of the various Mothman stories, or talks to ghosts in his dreams, or something like that.
Keepin’ it real
I think you see where I’m going with this. If you use dreams in your fiction, the most important thing it to make sure the dreams are real in one way or another. If not, all they will do is distract your reader and get your story off course. So incorporate dreams in your fiction, only sparingly and only when necessary.
Since we’re on the topic of dreams, what are some works of fiction you’ve seen that do a good job with dream? Leave a comment and let us know!