So, you’ve probably already been told that writing dream sequences is a big no-no. That it’s capital-B “bad”. To that I say - ugh.
There’s nothing wrong with dreams in stories. Dreams in storytelling are as old as our oldest stories. Humans are fascinated with dreams, and for good reason. We don’t understand them, and it’s likely we never entirely will. They’re rich with symbolism. They represent a deeper part of ourselves. That’s not to mention that if you’re religious at all, they likely have some significance to you on a spiritual level, regardless of what you believe in.
So to dismiss dreams as “bad writing” is - well, it’s ridiculous. It’s just that, as with any type of tool, you need to think about them. Instead of just tossing them into your story you should use them skillfully. Meaningfully.
Don’t use dreams just because they’re an easy way to create drama or to convey some piece of information. Use them because it’s the right place and the right time to use them in your story.
Using Dreams to Show a Character’s Psychological State
One of the ways in which you can use dreams meaningfully is to showcase a character’s psychological state. However, be very careful about using dreams in this manner and realize that it’s probably best to save dream sequences for extremes in mood shifts or emotional peaks that your characters may be going through.
For example, let’s say that we have a heroine who is caught up in a Civil War in a fantasy kingdom, and the person commanding the forces on the other side in this war is her own half-sister. Knowing that she might have to face off against her sister is causing her extreme emotional stress.
As she grows closer to having to face her sister, she may have a dream about the situation.
Saria charged into the chamber, sword raised. The blade slid neatly into the woman’s back. But when she cried out, the sound was strange. It wasn’t a woman’s cry. It was a girl. Saria looked down, and felt her chest begin to burn as she saw the child collapse onto the floor.
“Ness… no!” She withdrew her sword. She tried to reach for the girl, for her sister, but it was too late. Her sister had fallen, was still falling. Sinking into the floor as if it were glass. All Saria could do was watch as it closed around the child.
Dreams as Prophecy/Telepathy/Connection to Spirits
In some stories, dreams serve another purpose. They may function as prophecy - allowing characters to see past or future events. Dreams may also allow characters to see events that are happening in the present, elsewhere in the world that they exist in. They may be psychically connected to other characters through dreams, or they may even be able to connect to lost loved ones through dreams.
One of the things that tend to be universally true about these types of dreams in stories is that they are generally less abstract than dreams that occur “naturally” - i.e., dreams that originate from a character’s own mind. And that only makes sense. As a writer, you would want these dreams to be a little clearer and a little more focused.
Êx. Vivienne reached out and let her grandmother’s hand close over hers. “Is it really you?” she asked, receiving nothing but a smile in response. And then they were walking together, side by side and hand in hand, just as they had when she was a little girl. It had been so long…
“You’re still so impatient,” her grandmother finally said. “But it will happen soon enough.”
“What’s going to happen?” Vivienne glanced over. She couldn’t mean The Enlightening could she? But that would mean…
“Don’t think about it too much. It’s a beautiful day. Enjoy these moments while you can. Life is so short, Vivienne. Even a well lived life is never enough. No reason to be so impatient.”
However, you probably still want to write them differently than you write your main narrative - and we’ll get to that in a moment.
Beginning and Ending Dreams
One thing that I feel necessary to point out is how important it is to think about the beginning and ending of a dream sequence.
Think about the last dream that you had. How did it start? What were you doing when the dream began? The thing is, dreams sort of drop you into the middle of the action.
So when you write a dream sequence, embrace the concept of in media res. That is, start the dream sequence with your character already in the midst of some sort of action. It makes the feeling of the dream being “dreamlike” a lot more believable.
And really push it with this. Amp up the surreal feeling here to make it as dreamlike as possible. Start the dream with the character in the middle of a conversation. Start it with them walking down a hallway, or hanging out somewhere they shouldn’t be and acting as if it’s no big deal.
The more the reader feels put out by it, the better. Because it’s a dream and it should feel a bit odd and off and strange.
Likewise with the ending. Dreams don’t (always) have natural conclusions. They end when you wake up, no matter when that is. So don’t (always) worry about completing the “story” of the dream.
Amping Up the Surreal Nature of Dreams in Writing
When writing dream sequences, one thing you’ll want to note is that you want to keep the writing surreal. You want to make it feel different than the main narration of your story. It’s a dream, after all. And there are some things that you can do to make that happen.
One thing that you can keep in mind is that things move differently in dreams. The way things flow in dreams is a good starting point. Rather than having everything perfectly linear, and having everything structured and moving forward neatly, play with the surreal quality of the dreamworld by making leaps and jumps forward. Move from Point A to Point C and ignore Point B completely.
This is as true in psychological as in prophetic/telepathic dreams in writing. As I said, you want to differentiate the real world from the dreamworld, and this is a GREAT way to do that. It’ll help you keep the reader on the toes. (Not the only way to go, of course, but it’s one that I’ve always liked to use.)
And Finally - Dream Symbolism
I can’t go without noting this. Dreams are intensely symbolic, and you’d be remiss not to take advantage of this in your writing. Even if you’re not a writer who uses a lot of symbolism intentionally, writing dream sequences gives you a great chance to pull out all the stops and to fill your writing with symbols and hidden (or not so hidden) messages.
For example, if your character is anxious about death, illness or dying, you could fill their dream with images of dying animals and have them dream about being wounded. Yikes, right?
Just remember that dreams do not have to be literal representations of anxiety and, in fact, it may be a lot more interesting to readers to use symbolism instead of actual representations of their anxiety to get a message across in a dream sequence.
Anyway, that’s all I’m going to write about dream sequences for now. My WIP is about dreams so I’m always open to answer any questions you may have about dreams in writing, in myth, or what have you, so send me an ask if you want to know anything. I’ve done tons of research!
[Above] is a character sheet for a comix story I wrote in 1978. The script, if there was one, is long gone. It was a spoof of a hard-boiled detective story, ala Chandler or Spillane, and all the characters were based on my friends.
The character here that really pops out, of course, is “Father Dahmer,” the neighborhood priest! I discovered this long-forgotten piece in a box of high school drawings stashed under my mother’s basement stairs, as I was engaged in the herculean task of cleaning out her basement of 50 years of accumulation. I thought I had uncovered all my Dahmer artifacts years earlier, but here was a trove of drawings and memorabilia. Like all these discoveries, chills ran up and down my spine as I looked through this stuff. When I saw this drawing, I burst out laughing in disbelief. Father Dahmer???? Good gawd. It was just a goofball riff when I drew it, but now it was creepy and surreal. Keep in mind, this is likely drawn from life, too. I’m sure I was staring at him as I drew his face.
could you talk some more about trauma in fire walk with me?
i mean it’s basically the entire movie idk what to talk about specifically other than that it goes through in painful detail some of the most horrific and difficult to talk about side effects of child sexual abuse–things like disassociation, hyper-sexuality, drug use, repressed memories/ptsd–and somehow manages to tell this very honest story about a teenage girl being killed while also keeping the show’s surreal, dreamlike elements; it never denies laura her innocence but it’s also never trying to hide the ugly parts of her life and it’s just a beautiful and compassionate film to me. it really doesn’t ever feel exploitative and idk what the consensus on that is but I just think it’s an important movie that tells a story that’s almost never told well.
the next day’s saturday. simon keeps his phone on his bedside table, sound turned fully up.
just in case.
(of what? just in case baz texts him? simon doesn’t know what he would say to him.
“i hate you.” even though that’s not quite true.
“i’m terrified of myself and everything i’ve ever been taught is crumbling around my shoulders,” maybe.)
and he doesn’t come out from his blanket cocoon, to eat or shower or drink water-
it doesn’t matter. there’s no one around to notice.
monday comes too quickly.
simon’s barely slept- all he can think about is how soft baz’s lips were, and what they made him feel, and shit shit shit he can’t be gay he just can’t be-
then he realizes that really no one will care if he doesn’t go to school, so he just wraps his duvet tighter around him and pulls the blinds to block out the sun.
he keeps remembering.
it feels so surreal- the way the moonlight softened simon’s face and how vulnerable his eyes looked and the sloppy, quick press of lips.
and he left so quickly.
and he doesn’t know why, or how, he was there- maybe he had been dreaming.
he convinces himself.
on wednesday he gets up and showers and comes to school halfway through the day.
baz is at his usual lunch table, and simon can’t stop sneaking glances at him.
“what’s wrong with you?”
dev’s lip is curled, and simon glares. “nothing. go away.”
he smirks, raises an eyebrow. “what’s wrong, snow, do you want to beat up the pitch-bitch again? would that make you feel better?”
simon eyes flash, and he gets up in dev’s face. “shut the fuck up,” he snarls, and dev backs down.
“whatever,” he mutters.
they don’t interact until thursday after school.
simon’s been avoiding him, baz can tell- he doesn’t see him in the halls, while usually simon makes an effort to be noticed, and he’s skipping their shared class.
he mostly feels relief (and sneaking tendrils of disappointment, which spot his cheeks with shame).
baz is walking to his car when he sees simon. he’s leaning, head down, against a wall, and when he hears baz he looks up.
he looks oddly flat- his curls have loosened and droop over the shaved sides of his head and his forehead. baz feels a pang of something in his chest.
“we need to talk.” simon’s voice is unusually subdued. he clears his throat and beckons baz over.
he approaches warily.
“i-” simon scrubs his fingers through his hair, shoving it off his forehead. he looks tired.
simon feels utterly exhausted, and he’s struggling for words. what’s he supposed to say?
“oh yeah, you know how i snuck in through your window and kissed you even though i’m straight and have been mocking you for kissing guys for years? yeah, well, i’ve been thinking about this for five days and i think i might not actually be entirely straight. and i’m telling you this very calmly but in reality i cried for about an entire day because if there’s one thing that my neglectful adoptive father did tell me it’s that being different is about the worst thing you could possibly be. oh, also, i think i accidentally developed a crush on you somewhere along the way and damn, you look good in that sweater- where’d you get it?”
baz is stood in front of him, waiting.
“so, i- well, i- i might not be, like- i kissed you,” he blurts, then ducks his head, face burning red. the revulsion and elation fills up his chest, his lungs- he coughs, embarrassed. baz is still quiet.
“and, like, it wasn’t on purpose,” he continues hurriedly. “but… it happened, and-”
he looks up hopefully- maybe baz will just know what he means- but his face is still impassive. simon fights the urge to glare, and instead huffs exasperatedly.
“i’ve been an absolute dick to you,” he says. “and. i guess, what i’m trying to say is-”
baz is just looking at him, and simon’s fists clench.
“i’m sorry, okay?” he spits it through clenched teeth, because holy shit is that annoying. baz narrows his eyes.
“you don’t get to walk up here and- great, you kissed me, but guess what else? you bullied me. for months. you made me hate myself so much it hurts to look in the fucking mirror. you do not get to just swan over and do whatever you’re trying to do, that’s not how it works-”
simon’s jaw clenches. “i-”
“just- you can’t do that.” baz’s voice is small, and quiet, and he’s staring at his shoes. simon wonders if he’s going to cry again.
“fine. whatever.” god damn it. “go, then.”
baz turns to leave, and he’s almost to his car before simon calls out to him, on a whim.
baz pauses, and simon swallows. he can’t really believe he’s doing this.
“what would i have to do- to, like, make it up to you?” he asks. even though he’s simon snow, and that’s baz pitch, and he shouldn’t have to make anything up to anybody.
baz turns, and just looks at him for a moment- all blacks and whites and smudged purple circles under his eyes- and gets into his car, and drives away.
Hi! Would I be able to request a blend of AUs where Akashi is a yakuza leader and s/o is a flower shop or a bakery owner? Feel free to choose bc both are cute! Thanks for all your hard work on this blog -- you're lovely!
I haven’t written about a bakery in a while, so I’ll go for that one. Thank you so much, and enjoy! Sorry if this got a little long :’D -Admin Fyre
“What’s the hardest thing about being a yakuza leader?”
Failure was not an option.
“Sir, men from Arashiyama have been seen in parts of our territory, just as you said they would. Our people are following them as we speak - it looks like they’re trying to get a good layout of our security plans.”
Akashi fingered the sleeve of his suit jacket, none too surprised. “Good. Proceed as I instructed.”
“Yes sir.” The messenger withdrew from the room and Akashi waited until the door closed behind him before reaching for the phone to dial your number, his heart pounding with anticipation.
“How are things at the shop?” Akashi asked, a smile crossing his face just at the sound of your voice. He heard you laugh, and the faint sounds of people’s chatter fading away as you walked away from the noise to hear him better. Both of you knew that your phone calls were probably being watched by the rival yakuza, so you kept your conversations discreet, but somehow that just made it even more tempting to call every now and then.
“Slower, nowadays. I don’t mind though - it gives me more time to make you the things you like.”
I decided to combine the two prompts since they’re similar enough. I hope that’s okay. I tried.
Forget everything. This is set Pre-TVD S5 and TO S1. Only until TVD S4 canon applies.
Anyway, HAPPY HOLIDAYS, everyone! HAPPY 2014!
He has this one annoying thing that he does.
Yes, Caroline has long changed her tune from just-so-beyond-annoying-I-can’t-even-at-you to we’re-sort-of-okay-but-you-still-annoy-me-sometimes since she entered college and actually met annoying college guys. Like, seriously. Would it kill you to hold the door to a lady, you rude hormonal dickbags? Klaus may be psychotic and creepy, and sometimes throws the worst temper tantrums on the planet but at least he’s a gentleman about it.
Plus, “annoying” seems to be so little, so uncouth of a word to attach to his smug Nordic-English face. More like, intolerable or insufferable.
It all starts when she’s gotten herself lumped with one of those rude hormonal dickbags for her end of the term art history essay. To his credit, the guy’s rich and he offers the best weed (Hey, it’s college. She’s totally gonna Carpe her Diem, okay?).
And one trippy night when she comes back to her dorm room, between extreme tunnel visioning and thoughts like “How much smoke can toast a vampire’s brain?” or “Excuse me, I have a thousand year old hybrid artist in love with me. I can’t fail this class.” is when, with trembling fingers, she finds herself dialing his number on her phone. It rings once, twice, and he answers before she can decide how utterly stupid this move is. She’s too stoned to think, anyway.
As always, her name rolls perfectly out of his tongue and she barely steels herself.
“Why is it not a pipe when it’s clearly a pipe?”
The laugh he gives then is amused and unguarded. She can already see him raising his eyebrows at her. “Are you drunk-dialing now, love?”
“No.” Her back falls to bed, scattering books and papers around. “Even better. I’m high.”
“As a kite.” She supplies and Klaus laughs again as if he hadn’t in a while.
“Well I’m proud of you, sweetheart. Though I cannot say Sheriff Forbes would agree.”
“Hmm…” The baby vampire grumbles, rolling her eyes at him though he cannot see. “You didn’t answer my question. It’s a picture of a pipe but why does it say it’s not? Ceci n'est pas une pipe.”
Now there comes a sigh from the other end of the line. “I believe you’re pertaining to Magritte’s The Treachery of Images.”
“And you’re taking art.”
“Art history. One class.” She corrected but really the jerk is relentless.
“May I ask what—” They hybrid pauses as if aiming for suspense. “—or who spurned this sudden interest , love?”
The smirk in his voice isn’t hard to discern and she scoffs, irritated.
“Are you going help me or not?”
“So you admit you need my help then?”
This goes on for about ten minutes and she’s quite surprised of her protracted patience. On other occasions, she would snap at his creepy flirting but… Must be the weed. Eventually, Klaus does proceed to explaining Magritte and Surrealism, keeping things simple given her current state, though that doesn’t stop her from admiring the sound of his voice. Say anything about the man but his accent is glorious.
“… To question reality. To know the unknown despite the unknown being unknowable. He wants us to ask ‘why?’. Be it a juxtaposition of unrelated objects or of concealment. A man’s face obscured by an apple. A couple in mid kiss, their faces masked with a barrier of fabric, conveying isolation. Frustrated desires. That one happens to be a favorite of mine."
His tone drops a few decibels and she is momentarily transfixed.
"It’s called The Lovers.” He whispers.
Caroline clears her throat.
“Doesn’t that give you ideas?” The baby vampire teases though he doesn’t respond.
Unwavering, is how he says it. A far cry from when he first answered the call with her name, all hesitant and unsure.
“What is it?”
There is a pause so long and endless and now she’s getting impatient. Perhaps she’s sobering up.
“Tomorrow.” He says finally.
She can hear him smile from the other end of the line. “I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
Just then the door opens and in comes a sleepy Elena.
“Who are you talking to?” The brunette asks and Caroline hangs up, not saying goodbye.
In her defense, it’s him who calls the second time.
And the third.
And the fourth.
The fifth one, Caroline initiates, and the sixth, until it becomes a regular thing and she’s done keeping scores.
They talk about her essay—Magritte and art mostly. Sometimes he helps her with her other classes, talks her through chemical bonds and ideological state apparatuses. She can tell his favorite part is listening to her go on about her day. Somewhere between the fourth or the fifth call, she’s given up fending off his snoopy questions because it just seems like the natural flow of the conversation. Well, at least there’s one person who bothers to ask about her life anyway now that Stefan and Bonnie are MIA and Elena’s too 'busy’ (if you catch her drift).
And, only to be polite and because it’s also the natural flow of conversation, Caroline inquires about him too. About New Orleans and, you know, his world domination. They rarely have news of the Mikaelsons anymore after that they’ve gone. But he’s annoyingly secretive which is unfair because she totally told him about this cute guy named Jesse who’s seriously chatting her up while the dimpled hybrid jerk tells her nil.
“Tomorrow.” He’ll say. At first she thought it’s his way of saying “Goodbye.” or “I’m hanging up.” but she’s not stupid. He’s stalling until she forgets to ask.
It’s frustrating—annoying—this thing he does.
One night, when she’s by herself walking around the campus and underneath the stars, Caroline remembers asking again.
Right after he finishes his story about Paris and this interesting little man called Lautrec is a quietness. It occurs often and she can just imagine the civil war happening in his mind at the moment. Just spit it out, dammit, she wants to yell at his face.
And without fail, his answer is unchanged. “Tomorrow, love.”
She sighs deeply then, her eyes closing. “Is that what I’ll always be to you then? Your 'tomorrow’?”
He stays silent.
“But what if tomorrow never comes?”
She hangs up.
Her resolve lasts for about two weeks.
Well, she has no excuse. She’s an avoider and a stubborn one at that.
But eighty-one missed calls, two sticks of spliff, and an essay graded A+ later, Caroline has caved. Okay the man may be a total a-hole but she knows she’ll feel really suckish if she doesn’t tell him the good news.
So dialing his number, his phone rings longer than she’s expected and she’s about to hang up when a voice comes through.
Lo and behold, it’s a voice of a girl. And not of a British Original snob kind so clearly it’s not Rebekah.
The realization is mortifying.
“Uhm, I’m sorry, I—”
There’s a rustling from the other end of the line. A hushed murmuring follows, it’s so low that even her vampire hearing couldn’t make out though towards the end, she’s able to pick up three distinct words—"Don’t", “Belongings”, and “Hayley.”
The name feels like cold water on the head.
“I’m sorry about that, love." She hears Klaus’ voice on the other end and the question comes out before she can stop herself.
"Was that Hayley?”
Is that her voice? She can’t tell over the loud pounding of her heart on her ears. At the same time a million and one scenarios are playing on her head as to how the traitorous wolf bitch ended up in New Orleans.
Answering his fucking phone.
At least the a-hole has the decency not to lie. “Yes, that’s her.”
“O-kay.” Caroline murmurs.
“No, you know what? You don’t have to explain.” The laugh she gives is unconvincing, even to her ears. Still she plasters a smile on her face, so big her face hurts, though no one around is to see. “Look, I just called to say that I got an A. For the term paper. So… Thank you, Klaus. I guess…”
“You’re welcome, Caroline.” He says after a long pause and inwardly, she’s thankful he doesn’t press on the issue. “It has been reposeful… Talking to you.”
She doesn’t know what he meant.
Bonnie’s dead. Jesse’s dead. Tyler comes back only to break up with her. Stefan forgets all about her. Elena is too caught up with her drama to care about her and Damon plainly has no fucks to give.
Of all people, the least person she expects gets her out of her existential crisis.
Putting her version of Carpe Diem to shame, her spiteful doppelgänger maker isn’t sitting around moping about losing her vampirism. In a true Katherine Pierce fashion, she’s going to give death is a hell of a chase before she lets it catch her.
And so before Caroline knows it, the imperious hurricane that is Katerina (Ha, isn’t she funny?) has blown her away to the great New York. Though the brunette is keen to remind her that she’s only the ticket, not the tour guide, and so soon enough, the baby vampire finds herself alone trudging the streets of the Big Apple.
It’s nothing like she imagined and, for some reason, it feels safer with its jungle of buildings than the labyrinthine forests back in Mystic Falls.
On the 53rd, she feels the desire to be alone.
The patrons of the Museum of Modern Art are utterly dismayed when the guard announces an early close. A private viewing, he explains cryptically and everyone else are only left to wonder as to who the important guest is.
The important guest in question, however, is currently absorb with Lichtenstein's Drowning Girl and oblivious to anything else. Art has fascinated her in general but she finds she’s particularly partial to paintings. She visits Van Gogh’s The Starry Night right after and then Cézanne’s Bather. Kahlo, she falls in love. The woman and her had a lot in common.
Magritte, she goes to see last though upon arriving, she finds that she’s not quite alone.
“Fancy meeting you here, sweetheart.”
Of course. In front of The Lovers, with both hands on his back, stands the one and only hybrid himself.
“I thought I told the guard not to let anyone in."
Approaching him, Klaus flashes his signature smirk and she smiles despite of herself.
"Well you find, love, that I could be very persuasive.”
The response elicits an eye roll which only widens his grin. Though he’s so intense when he stares and it makes her feel all weird.
“What?” She snaps at him but the bastard never drops his gaze.
Clearing her throat, Caroline brings her eyes to the artwork in front of her. It provokes a different kind of feeling, seeing the real thing.
“Beautiful.” Is what she manages to say.
“Indeed.” She hears Klaus agree and when she looks at him, she sees his eyes are still on her. They seem bluer in this light.
“So…” She starts with an awkward cough. “I guess, congratulations on your impending fatherhood.”
Immediately his smile disappears and his gaze drops. He lifts a hand to scratch his stubbled jaw. “You’ve heard about that.”
“I did. You must be, uhm, excited.”
The look he gives her then is part hurt and part ashamed but he never says a thing.
“Klaus, I didn't—” She sighs heavily. “I just mean that… Although it was totally unplanned… It’s still a big deal, you know. Like, none of us we’ll be getting a kid. Ever. But, look at you…”
His head drops then and she bends her neck to catch his eyes.
“Hey, hey, look at me. I mean that as a good thing, Klaus. You’re having a baby. A family.” Her hand itches to reach out for his cheek. “You have your whole world now and—”
“And you’re here." His eyes finds hers and suddenly he’s holding her hand. "You’re here, Caroline. What good would the world bring me when you’re here?" Without me. Away from me.
He lifts their laced hands to her cheek and his gaze is suffocating. Not like the sea but worse—a quicksand. She feels her feet grow heavy, her hands paralyzed, and she can’t move away when he leans down close to her lips.
The alarm must have been written all over her face because halfway, he stops.
"Tomorrow.” He murmurs, taking a few steps back.
Kissing him now feel so wrong but the mere thought of him leaving with that sad dejected smile, seeing him walk away from her life for good, sends all her resolve crumbling. She has never felt her undead heart ache the way it does now and she doesn’t understand it. She’s afraid she never will.
Her hand finds the sleeve of his leather jacket when he begins to leave and she thinks she’s never been so desperate for someone to stay.
“What if tomorrow never comes?”
Her voice is breathless but he smiles, genuinely this time. Caroline knows she doesn’t need to say anything anymore. He understands. Her eyes scream everything her lips couldn’t.
His hand seeks hers again and she squeezes his fingers when he promises, "I’ll make sure it will.“