Using Dreams as a Plot Device: Yay or Cliché?



Oh, in this case it’s supposed to be difficult to tell, I should have made that clear, sorry! When the character dreams, the dreams come as a consequence of pharmacological torture and the idea is to convince them their memories are just dreams. So that’s why I introduce these dreams that are really weird and confusing.

But now that you mention it, the distance between a dream and a heart-felt memory is very short… I’m gonna keep an eye out not for my wording when I describe the two :stuck_out_tongue:


You’re totally ok! See I really like this idea though, it sounds like the start for a delicious psychological thriller that would rival movies like Shutter Island.

And you’re right, the distance is really short sometimes, and that can be really scary when a vivid memory suddenly revisits you in your dreams when you’re least prepared.


I’ve used them a lot in one series. The MC has blacked out parts of his childhood due to trauma and the memories are all coming back to him in dreams.

I don’t know if it’s cliche. I guess it is? I hope the execution of them makes them non-cliche. The story is written in past tense and all the dreams are written in present. So far, my readers and critics haven’t said anything bad about them, so I’m just going to assume they’re alright :joy:


Thanks ^-^
Yup, that would be heartbreaking after evrrything he’s been through. His fate was revealed, though, but I’m not gonna spoil it.

Oh, now I see why you wanna rewrite it. I understand why you wanted to finish it for the Wattys. Don’t worry. There’s always next year =)


I love using dreams because of their versatility. So much of my inspiration comes from dreams that I couldn’t not use them. I find them to be great means of communication and as a place of learning. In my Wattpad WIP, my MC has to splice together clues from her dreams with the ones she finds while awake to keep her from meeting the same doom that befell her ancestors.


Oh goodness I hate dreams in literature. Most of the time they serve no purpose. They don’t move the plot forward, and barely give us any characterization.

The only time they work is if the story literally couldn’t move forward without them. As in, they are plot-essential. If written well, they are enjoyable. Usually they aren’t though, and they do so little for the story.


I like how you execute your dream sequences! They already sound realistically psychological and serve as a vital part of your story. It sounds like good dream execution to me! :smile:


I’ll have to read through to the end!!

Exactly. The Wattys were an excellent motivator for me to finally start writing it, and the next round of Wattys will keep me going to finally get it finished :smile:


That’s the spirit :clap:t2::clap:t2::clap:t2:
Good luck :smiley:


This is what I’ve learned about dreams too, whether in your own life or in stories they provide excellent lessons. My WIP’s MC has to do something similar, using her bizarre vision-like dreams to learn more about a deceased student that her school keeps trying to erase from its history.


I know what you mean. One of the few exceptions might be Harry Potter seeing Mr. Weasley get attacked during Book 5; because that dream was actually a vision that Harry gave proper attention to, he saved Mr. Weasley’s life. Other than that you need to be careful overusing dreams because too many just takes away from the story.


Good luck to you as well :grin:


Thanks! :smile: They are important. Without them the story would be at a stand-still, since he remembers important plot-defining things, little by little. I think they’re important anyways, :sweat_smile:


Welcome :grin: If we authors decide that dreams are an important part of our stories nobody can make us believe otherwise! That, and they’re so much fun writing into the plot.


YES! I loved writing them! Mostly because they’re super confusing and leave out a ton of details and it makes the readers annoyed as hell :joy: but like, in a good way.




I personally struggle with PTSD and tips for anyone else who would want to write a character with one. Not everyone with PTSD shows the same symptoms the same way. When I get nervous, it’s not shown so vividly that you see me screaming every time something triggers you. Sometimes you freeze, your hands shake a bit, sweating suddenly, hands curl in to fists… there’s probably more that I’m not thinking about.

PTSD dreams isn’t necessarily always reliving the same dreams. Although it does happen occasionally. If you wanna write it in a story. For me, my nightmares is like all my fears coming out to play, every single night. It shows the fear I developed.

For example, if you survived a fire. You might have dreams of people inviting you to start a fire, cooking and being afraid to be burned, anything related to heat or fire.

It’s also shows to help how it affects them by making it more real when it plays out in a similar way when they’re awake. For me, I have to have sleeping pills because my dreams leave me so deep in sleep that I’m unable to wake up and it helps because the pills also help with high blood pressure. Dreams can help show an internal struggle with every day life even if it’s not obvious to other people/characters. Just wanted to add this the discussion and hope it helps.


Honestly, I hate reading dreams in stories unless it’s part of the plot. They bore me, and a lot of the dream scenes I’ve read could’ve been cut out completely. I usually skim through them.

I doubt I’d ever write one, unless I was writing some sort of parody where I could use it to poke fun at them.


Yay if done a bit subtle and with symbolism where the dream doesn’t bash someone over the head with its meaning.


So you’re a dreamologist?

I use dream sequences quite often to explain key aspects of my books all the time, but rarely at the beginning.

I mean, for example, I just had two dream sequences in my Demon Blade novel where Reyna first enters the corridor of locked doors (that was seen in Quickstrike (Book 2)) and she’s dressed in a surgical gown and her abdomen is glowing brightly like the center of the galaxy. Except (I think) this is supposed to be a dream fragment that had come from Velocity where she was in the diagnostic chair in Book 3 and her abdomen had irised open to reveal her fusion power core. (She’s more machine than anything else.)

So anyways, Reyna has to pick one of the locked doors and when she gets there, she discovers that she’s back in Velocity’s room where she meets her partner, Mari, and the two have an interesting conversation about regrets, loss, and of course–if Velocity is ever going to come back to her after she broke free of her containment vessel and escaped the Archer Research Facility in the Southlands.

Then later on, Reyna’s dreams get invaded by Velocity herself and it becomes a titanic struggle for dominance as Reyna tries to make sense of where she’s at and what Velocity is imparting upon her in terms of information and then she gets tormented and tortured by Velocity at that point by showing the 19 year old girl what she’s really capable of–if she doesn’t acquiesce in becoming her vassal and herald. Her Keeper of Light.

In this state, Velocity is no longer the passionate, caring, kind, bubbly person that she once was in the simulator. She’s malicious, cruel, without any sense of empathy or compassion and she’s only after one thing (or two things I should say) and she doesn’t care who has to die so that she can obtain what she wants the most.

Only because she was engineered and experimented on numerous times over the years and so what was left of her humanity (to put it lightly) was destroyed.

So she’s decided that all of humanity must suffer their invasive acts against her and so she makes it happen by targeting the planet itself and plunges it into a new dark age–where nothing works anymore…except older forms of technology.

Everything was plunged into a chaos after that point.

What passed for civilization collapsed after that.