DOs and DON’Ts of Dream Sequences in Books


Find a new way to have the character wake up other than the classic “bolting upright” or “awake with a gasp/scream.”

Read other dream sequences in books, and find out what works and what doesn’t work.

Pay attention to what you do when you wake from a dream.

Pay attention to all the senses you experience (or don’t experience) in a dream.

Use your real dreams as a guide on how to format dreams.


Don’t have the character “realize it was a dream.” Make it obvious in context.

Don’t start the book with a dream sequence (regardless of whether it does or doesn’t become real).

Don’t use dreams as a method of flashback. How often do you have dreams that perfectly represent memories? Because for me, it’s never.

Don’t let the reader be confused as to whether it’s real or a dream. It’s okay for your character to be confused, but you don’t want you reader getting lost.

Don’t have too many dream sequences. Make sure you spending adequate time with the linear plot.

Only Break the Rules When…

You know how to follow them.

You know why you’re breaking them.

You’re breaking them for a purpose.

You break them effectively.

Have any more things to add to this list? What’s something you see/hate in dream sequences?


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