Please forgive the foray into pop psychology. I was thinking about dreams and how they turn into stories and wondering how it works for you all:

I have had dreams that were fully realized stories (details and all) that I later wrote down. And dreams that I combined with other dreams or weird real-life events for further stories. Granted, the stories are surreal. But I guess I'm too fascinated not to write them.

Nightmares always end themselves before anything bad can truly happen. I never figured out "lucid" dreaming so I can't let bad things happen to me or loved ones while I watch - something in my subconscious wakes me, I guess. Still, even without endings, these dreams are pretty powerful and may also find themselves in stories.

How do you dream, and do they ever directly impact your stories?

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I never had very interesting or memorable dreams until I started taking a muscle relaxer for TMJ a few months ago. Suddenly my dreams were in technicolor and incredibly elaborate. I've actually gotten some ideas from them that I have written down. My oral surgeon asked me on my last visit how my "dreams were going." He said this is a common side effect of the drug he put me on. Weird.
The sond story I sold to EQMM came directly from a dream about an old couple winning $60K in the lottery - not life-changing money, but just enough to cause problems.

And I often solve problems in plot or character in that gray space between sleep and being awake. It's like found money.
I love looking at dreams & have often had writing problems or story endings come to me in a dream. *Warning- I studied a ton of dream theory, so you can stop reading if you get bored!*

There's a long history of dreams impacting creativity and science. Robert L. Stevenson's THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYL AND MR. HYDE was the product of a dream, as was M. Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN. There have been numerous instances of scientists dreaming the solution to problems - F. Kekule and the Benzene ring structure is one of the more famous examples.

What generally happens is a kind of dream incubation. If you're super focused on a problem, you sometimes try to solve that problem in dreams. It's awesome when it works. It kind of seems like a muscle that functions better the more you use it.

So, y'know...dreams are cool.
Like David, I solve problems. I don't know if there's any science to it at all, but in The Great Brain series (kids books) there's a bit about how if you go to sleep thinking about a problem you'll wake up with a solution.

When I'm working on a book I keep pen and paper beside the bed and will wake up middle of the night and make notes because a plot issue or character thing will become clear.

My husband has the mental ability to change his dreams. He tells me about them all the time - freaky wierd.
I've got solutions to problems, some of which were plot or character related, others of which were just plain old life, from dreams and sometimes - just sometimes - I can manipulate the way the dream goes, too, which is fun. I generally dream in colour and I love dreams in which I fly.

I found what Karen said interesting - I find guarana, especially if I've had caffeine, too, gives me spectacular dreams. (I'm not taking it at the mo - remembering the effect it has, I might start again!)

Poor sleepers, beware, though - I've been told by a couple of people that Nytol (over-the-counter sleep-inducer) brings on nightmares!
I only remember stress nightmares. Invariably about being eaten by zombies. I wish they would end before the something bad happens, usually in a very graphic and disturbing way.

I'm not sure if they impact my writing or my writing impacts them. A bit of both, I imagine.
I only remember stress dreams too. Showing up for a math exam when I never went to class, losing my teeth all at once, being lost in the catacombs. What is functional for me is the half-sleep period. That's when I problem solve.
The only recent dream I remember? I was at some convention and supposed to be moderating a panel, but my hotel room was right across the hall from the panel room, and I had an hour so I went to change and then discovered 15 minutes later the time was wrong, because someone had moved the clocks an hour, and ran in to the panel. Cornelia was handling it for me. I have no idea who else was on the panel, but when I got there, they realized the time was still wrong and someone else was supposed to be in the room and the entire audience got up and walked out and we never had our panel.

I'm sure the smoosh came because a) I'd been on the phone with Cornelia, b) I'm already prepping for the Murder in the Grove panel I have to moderate and c) Daylight Savings Time.

I had Daylight Savings Time.

And I feel confident none of this will help me in my writing.
I occasionally wake up with a phrase or an image from a dream that becomes a story or part of whatever I'm working on. Mostly, though, like David, I find the best insights in the gray area.
I love dreams and hearing about other people's dreams. I often have very realistic, "epic" dreams, the kind you wake up from thinking, "Thank you, God!"

I've often dreamed short stories, but never anything that affected a novel I was working on. Christa, as you can see in my zombie dream on the link below, if my subconscious doesn't like the way things are going, it will twist the story in a less tense direction. It went from a horror movie to a musical montage!

I have a dream journal on my website. I wrote them down exactly as I remembered them (but only the ones that make sense). For anyone who's interested in other people's dreams, here's the link: http://www.elizabethterrell.com/dream_journal.htm.
I dream in color, full stories that weave real life with the latest movies or books I've seen/read. I can recall them, but the conscious story lines are never as fascinating as the subconscious events. And then there is that pesky legal problem of mixing somebody elses work with my own.
It's very rare for me to remember a dream. At best I'll get little snippets in my mind that dissolve like a cloud of steam if I try to think on them too hard. When I do have a dream I'm aware of, it's almost always lucid, but I can only control things within the context of the dream, so no help for my writing there.

I do, however, often wake up with solutions to writing problems that suddenly seem self-ecident in the shower after a good night's sleep. I assume I dreamt the solution and now remember just what I needed, but I have no recollection of the dream at all.

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