Mining Ideas

Some days are just like that.  Here it is, 8:25 PM and I was supposed to post today.

I apologize profusely and take my punishment without apology.  As if that makes any sense.

Sometimes I dream.  Not very often do I remember those dreams–the dreams when I was a child could rival Stephen King.  But when I do remember them they’re in full color, full sound–scents and textures if those apply.  Since I write science fiction and fantasy, most of my dreams are in those genres.

Some time ago I had a dream that was a complete storyline but instead of being science fiction or fantasy it was an 18th century murder mystery. I woke up before the end, but I’ve never dreamed a mystery or 18th century before.

So I wrote this, which was the piece just before I woke up. There were five women in this scene, each of whom had been given an oddly embroidered handkerchief just before our friend died. It is of course fictionalized…

* * * * *

I spread out the handkerchiefs side by side. The garish colors, swirling patterns that would be meaningless to any of us. Only the sane, I reminded myself, and nearly drew back from my purpose.

“Maritha’s eyes weren’t normal.” I pointed out the obvious as I laid the fourth kerchief beside the others. “She could look in both directions at once, or cross her eyes…”

I picked up one, the colors in one corner and the patterns in the other. This was more coherent, a simple geometric. “Look at it with your eyes crossed. So that the colors and patterns overlap. I think this one was an experiment, to see if she could do it.”

The black dot in the upper corner of each piece seemed to be the key. When my eyes crossed sufficiently to put those two dots together, the pattern leaped out at me. The greens and browns over lapped the geometric, creating a pattern familiar to us all–a view of the house, from the front gardens.

Yes. Over exclamations of surprise as they handed the kerchief around, I picked up the next.

This one had no colors, and it had been the one she gave to me. The two dots were slightly off-center and I had to turn my head to get them to match. <i>My dear Sherise, I sincerely hope that you will understand… </i>While the others muttered and whispered over the first, I tucked that one into my sleeve to look at later. Tears touched my eyes–it was almost as if she spoke to me again.

* * * * *

Dreams are an interesting field to mine for storylines.  While I may use this one some day, it’s more likely that the dream itself will go by the wayside and I’ll end up using the handkerchief idea in another context.

Do you ever get story ideas from your dreams?

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One response to “Mining Ideas

  • Nichole

    I remember my dreams almost every night but I’ve never been able to “mine” any writng material from them. My dreams are just these stupid, recurring themes: running from something but unable to get away, falling, working at my job (hate those the most cause they’re boring), or silly random things that don’t make any sense. Maybe someday I’ll hit paydirt 🙂

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