Tag Archives: dream journal

Why Every Horror Writer Needs A Nightmare Journal

Writers are always told our fiction should be informed by our experiences, because the best stories have a kernel of truth to them. With this in mind we smuggle our quote books into our characters’ mouths. We cast colleagues as our leads, and we misappropriate our memoirs into our material. We find and replace our own names and over-share under aliases. We launder tell off speeches through nom de plumes and reveal our truth through jest.

We write what we know until we write the fantastic elements of our story. Then we drop that mantra completely. Without the experiences to draw from we use other methods to ground our stories. We impose rules on the impossible.

A ghost can pester the living from the further, but will be weaker than a person who dares to go there. A magician can project a torch flame across the room, but the heat will diminish 60%. A Jedi can project his consciousness across the galaxy, but the journey will kill him.

We rely on western storytelling conventions to suspend our readers’ disbelief. We hope an internal logic will do the trick. For the most part it works, but what if there was a way to make our fantasies resonate with the same sense of authenticity as stories in our diaries? What if we had fantastic life experiences and we didn’t even know it?

Dreams are Experiences

Dreams are the only place (outside of drug fueled journeys, psychotic episodes, and virtual reality) where we experience true fantasy. Unlike daydreams, dreams push us out of the driver’s seat. When we ride through dream country we’re not creators, we’re experiencers. Our feelings aren’t manufactured, they’re reactive, and due to this delusion of perception, our observations are authentic.

I have friends who check out whenever I pitch them a story, but they lean in whenever I start talking about nightmares.

This is why I advocate the keeping of a nightmare journal, a Compendium of phantasms, an Atlas of the abyss, a Bestiary of bogeymen. You get the idea. Continue reading Why Every Horror Writer Needs A Nightmare Journal

Punxsutawney Penitentiary (Audio Short)

Ever have that dream where you’re on death row and the only thing that saved you is when your subconscious lost the plot? This dream journal entry is all about the life saving awkward transitions you only find in dreams. Listen for the tone to shift, the title will make a lot more sense.

Stairway to Something (Audio Short)

Stairway to Something

Ever have that dream where you’re climbing a staircase with no end? Ever feel like you’ll never be satisfied no matter how far you’ve come? This dream journal entry takes the physics of that metaphor a little too literally. Listen as our hero tries to setup up camp on the slope of an incline. It’s metaphor my life at the moment.

The Metropolitan (Audio Short)

The Metropolitan

Ever have that dream where it’s your first day on the job and you have no idea what to do, where to go, or who to answer to? Ever have that dream where all your coworkers have an instinctual connection to the corporation, while your link has been severed? This dream journal entry takes place in one of these companies, where all titles are jargon, and everyone speaks Greek. Listen as the hero takes cover behind his cubicle.