Using Dreams as a Plot Device: Yay or Cliché?



It depends on the use. Prophecy/foreshadowing dreams? Bit cheesy IMO. Nightmares that reveal a traumatic past in some way? Absolutely. I also like to use dreams to reveal a character’s change in attitude towards something or someone; since dreams reflect our subconscious, they’re very good at spelling out to the character (and the reader) when they’ve had a change of heart and didn’t realize it. So, yeah, usually a-okay in my book as long as you don’t make them too magical. (And even that isn’t an iron rule, so do whatever fits your story best!)


Depends on how the plot device is utilized. My protagonist sees the deaths of people in his dreams. He isn’t predicting deaths btw. He is simply seeing or rather reliving the deaths of random spirits. The advantage of using dreams as plot device is that it is possible to conjure up anything. A lot of impossible things can be portrayed in dreams. The down side is that it is very difficult to continue using this as a plot device. Especially if the book is part of a larger series.


Since I used it twice, I made sure I didn’t use it in the next book. It was time to try something new.

I’d do it again if I thought I had to, though. Any and every tool has it’s place in the toolbox.


One of the characters in my Archon Saga has “seeker dreams,” in which she sees or experiences magical phenomenon. I reference her dreams, but most of the time this only comes into play in the narrative when she visits the Astral Plane in her dreams, the realm between life and death and the home realm of the archons, as real experiences where she interacts with them.

One other time, a character sees the death of an archon from years ago in seeker dream during a scene which occurs immediately after said archon uses a magical trick to awaken and resurrect himself. The dream is used to both show an event from the past and showcase the character’s seeker abilities, since she wasn’t there at the time of his death. Another archon in the dream also witnesses the dreamer, looking through both time and space to notice her presence.


hehehe, I thought you meant, ‘do I use my dreams for writing material’

anyways, my answer is yay, not at al cliche
but it’s mostly in the way you use it or show it in the story.
If it’s in the beginning where an accident happens then the lead suddenly wakes up, then, yeah it’s a bit cliche.


Sometimes I’ll be obvious about it, make it strange enough that it can’t be interpreted as anything other than a dream. I do this if it’s a minor tack on the entire plot and doesn’t really serve a purpose.

I wouldn’t use it as a cliffhanger or ‘shocking’ ending because over time with so many published stories it tends to become tedious and to an extent even frustrating for the reader.


Not at all. Dreams are an incredible source of inspiration. They are after all ideas that even your conscious mind cannot imagine.

As for using dreams within a story itself… You have a 100% supporter on that idea. I personally think it’s still an era of literature that remains original. A few books and movies toyed with using dreams as plot devices, and yet, this idea can still be used in completely original ways.


Besides, if I would say no to your question, I would be an hypocrite. :smiley:
Just leaving a hint here for whoever familiar with my work… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: