Storyarts six week on-line writing workshop. Page 9
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Week five

Part one

The Dream

    Part of your material is your dreams.  Dreams themselves, moreover, draw upon the same sources we use for for story, and in doing so often tell stories that are both vivid and imaginative.   Sometimes more vivid and imaginative than we would like them to be.  Nevertheless, a writer examining his or her dreams will see many outstanding example of how "material" evolves into art.  The writer remembers a swimming pool  from childhood.  The dream emembers the same swimming pool--and fills it with fish.  The Writer  remembers a playground where she watched her children play.  The dream recreates it and fills it with strange children she does not  recognize.  Bears prowl nearby.

    Clearly, dreams are not only a source of story, they also are a source of story development.

    In this sequence we will present several dream writing exercises.  While scientists tell us everybody dreams, we understand quite clearly that not everyone remembers or wants to remember their dreams.  The exercises that follow take the possibility that you may be one of these people into account.


For dreamers:  An object you saw in a dream.
For non-dreamers:  An object that has a dream like quality.

For dreamers:  A dream that repeats itself.
For non-dreamers:  A dreamlike experience that repeats itself.

For dreamers:  A dream that occurred only once.
For non-dreamers:  A dreamlike experience that occurred only once.

Clearly, dreamers have the advantage here since they, should they wish, can both sets of warm-up exercises.

Let me make this very clear, by dream I mean a genuine night time dream, not a day dream, not the "dream" you have of someday becoming a famous writer.  Only real dreams, please.

How to do it.  If the images are fragmented, write them that way.  Use the first person, present tense if at all possible.  Write the whole dream/image and stop when it stops.  No need to say "And then I woke up."

Be as clear as possible.  Do not analyze your dream.  This is not therapy.

The length of these exercises is going to vary, but most successful written dreams seldom are more than two pages long.  Take your time and write as well as you can.  Again, no poetry, no misguided attempts at humor, no psychoanalysis.

To read a few examples of a style you ccan use, visit Hank Bryant's page on this Website. :Hank Bryant's Page

The Full Length Exercise

For dreamers:  Quite simple, write an entire dream, first person, present tense.  During the dream, do not use the word "dream" unless that word is part of the actual dream.  In this exercise, you are permitted to wake up and tell us what happened after awake, and you are also permitted to tell us what happened before you went to sleep.  You are also permitted to examine the source of the dream, and to speculate on its meaning.

For non-dreamers:  Two possible options.  Write the dream-like experience and include the before and after.  Examine the source and speculate upon the meaning.  Or, second option, get someone else to tell you his or her dream.  Then retell it in the first person as if it were yours, or in the first person as you heard it.  (example:  When I asked my mother if she would tell me a dream she told this one.  She was flying very low over the city.  She said it seemed as if she would strike a building almost every moment, but this never seemed to happen. And so on.

And when you get to the end, stop, put a period after your last sentence, and write two more words.

    The end.
 An example of the completed dream exercise by Jim Colombo

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