I woke at two in the morning from a nightmare in which I was being hunted by an assassin. In the dream, desperate to get away, I hid on the third floor of an abandoned building. I remember looking out the dirty windows and seeing the assassin below in the parking lot looking up at me. He was tracking my cell phone.
I removed the sim card and, just for good measure, smashed the phone.
Two days later, he almost caught me hiding in a bakery. The owner, an old friend, came rushing into kitchen whispering, “The man you described just walked through the front door.” I ducked out the back and hid on the fire escape. As he left, I saw him glance up at the street cams.
I hitchhiked into the Indiana countryside. I figured I was safe among the endless fields of ten foot tall cornstalks. I was wrong. As I turned and ran, he shouted after me, “You’ll never get away, I’ve tapped into the satellites.”
That’s when I woke up. Everything was familiar: my bedroom, my sweetie softly breathing beside me. I wasn’t afraid; I was curious. How would I evade an assassin? I turned to that great fountain of wisdom, the TV. As my husband slept, I searched Netflix and Amazon Prime for a movie that would show me how to escape.
Click. Click. Click.
I clicked almost as many times as Indiana has ears of corn. Then I discovered a Bruce Lee movie! Yes! Surely, Bruce would know how to evade an assassin.
Guess what? Bruce Lee never evades. He never hides. He confronts his enemies. He turns to face them, looks them straight in the eye, and kicks butt.
That’s when I knew who the assassin was. My assassin was a family problem. Yes, I wanted to hide. And yes, I definitely wanted to smash my cell phone, but I couldn’t get away. I had to become Bruce Lee. I had to face my problem head on. I needed to look it in the eye—and kick butt.
So, why did I tell you this?
I recently read a fascinating book called Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language by John A. Sanford. I believe dreams can add depth and, strangely, genuineness to a story. But there’s a catch, and it’s a big one. You’ve got to get it right. Dreams follow certain patterns—unobvious patterns—that we all instinctively recognize. So, if you want to put a dream sequence in your story, read an authoritative book about dreams and common reoccurring images in dreams, first. Otherwise, the dream won’t read as “real.” Rather it will seem contrived, a way too convenient plot device, and pop the reader right out of the story.
BTW, I did actually dream about being hunted by an assassin, and I do think my subconscious was telling me to stop running away from my problems. I’m currently working on becoming Bruce Lee, but he’s a difficult act to follow.
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