Thursday, June 28, 2012

On Lucid Dreaming and Story Writing

I'm one of those people who often remember their dreams, sometimes vividly and sometimes even years after. I'm not sure if I know that I'm dreaming while you know, I'm in the dream. But all I know is that, in some of those dreams, somewhere in the back of my mind I know that anything is possible and I actually attempt to control the situation. I'm not sure if I can call myself a lucid dreamer (think Inception, but not on that scale).

Wait, let me Wiki that - lucid dreaming seems to be all about control or manipulation of imaginary experiences in a dream. Yep, that sounds about right - I seem to be a lucid dreamer, at least part of the time.

Lucid dreaming is very much like writing a story. Sometimes you can control the events and their outcome and sometimes, not. I call these "adventure dreams" and I enjoy them immensely, because it feels like a live story, only that I'm the protag (sometimes I even head-hop). I know it sounds weird...everyone does that, right? Right? Okay no, I can live with that. Anyway...

Have you ever had a lucid dream? No, not the one where you're trying to outrun an unknown and unseen monster. The one where you've been dropped in the middle of a world of intrigue, excitement and darkness, where you can actually enhance the dream experience by participating in it. Well sometimes such dreams end unsatisfactorily (e.g. I haven't managed to escape from the commandos hot on my trail or found that Holy Grail I was looking for) and if I happen to have the same dream again, I try to influence the situation by doing things differently, which very often results in a different outcome. Sometimes my dream even goes on rewind during the same "dream session", so I can restart. Wait, am I secretly a control freak? Probably.

This morning I had a weird dream. I was running through a maze of manor-like corridors and then a wooden staircase (for some reason wooden staircases you'd imagine in Hogwarts tend to populate my dreams, go figure), when I finally ended up in this really cool marketplace. The thing is I wanted to buy some of those goodies (potions in cans and sweet goodies) from a Chinese lady (O_o...never seen her before) and all I know is that I didn't have enough money. However, I wanted the goodies so bad (though I can't imagine why, since I was running after someone) that the next thing I knew, my mind actually turned lesser coins into coins of higher value to allow me to buy the stuff.

I'm sure you're asking yourself where all this is going (if you're still reading that is). Right, back to story writing. Very often you try to influence or control the course of events that lead to the outcome of the story and sometimes your characters shoot you in the face for trying to do that and you end up in a completely different place - sometimes that place is better than what you originally imagined and sometimes it's a stinking pile of horseshit.

What I find all the more fascinating is that sometimes elements of a story or even the seed for an entire story can actually germinate from a dream. After all, story writing involves a heavy dose of dreaming (most of the time with your eyes wide open). You visualize scenes and characters that no one else can imagine until you put them all down on paper.

But oh well, stories and dreams are all about living an adventure, even if it takes place only in your mind :) Through your dreams or your written characters, you get to do things that you probably wouldn't be able to do in real life, like ever. Imagine being this badass assassin who kicks some serious butt, even if only for a minute. How cool is that?

Does this mean I write for the thrills? You betcha!

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