DREAMS 1-2-3 | Introduction to Elements & Components

An entire dream can be a lot to digest, too much to do at once. That’s why my D3 process takes you step by step and starts off in Step 1 by identifying the story elements and narrative components. In Step 2 you interpret the symbolism of the elements and components. In Step 3 you connect it all together and figure out how the dream applies to you. It’s basic detective work.

  1. Get the facts (Step 1)
  2. Pursue the leads (Step 2)
  3. Connect the dots (Step 3)

Take the dream in bites and savor for a while. Then as you interpret the dream you are better able to recognize the thematic threads and make connections.

If you can figure out one part of a dream, you can use the answer to decode other parts. That’s another important reason to break down the dream to parts and look at each individually. For example, when you know that the symbolism of a school setting in a dream connects symbolically with something you’re presently learning, it might explain the presence of certain characters such as teachers, and the reasons for certain actions such as burning the school down. Haha.

The school is a dream setting, and settings are known for helping you understand the central subject or idea of a dream.

Trial and error is our method, remember that. You try out possibilities till one pings you with recognition and you say to yourself, I remember now. That’s what it means.

Think like a storyteller

Every detail of a movie, novel, or video game (three popular mediums for telling stories) is chosen deliberately. Your dreams take the same care and pay the same attention to detail. By analyzing how a dream-story is put together, you gain insights into its meaning and message.

Think like a storyteller and reverse-engineer the dream. That means identify the story elements and narrative components and use the tools for interpreting symbolism and story analysis I’ll teach you in Step 2.

Dreams recognize our patterns and habits and tailor their stories for us individually, even choosing “venues” that best suit our personal tastes and style. For a gamer, their dreams might like to tell stories in video game environments. Cartoon fans are known to get a lot of cartoon-like dreams.

The final point before we move on:

If you can analyze a story, you can analyze a dream. And since everyone can analyze a story, everyone can analyze a dream.

Story Elements

Any or all of these elements can be used in a dream:

  1. Settings
  2. Characters
  3. Symbols

The settings of a dream primarily tell you about its subject and what parts of your life or yourself are addressed.

The characters move the plot of the story and give voice to your life and the people in it. Characters provide the drama.

The symbols tell the backstory. They say what’s unsaid. They stand in for ideas, subjects, concepts, thoughts, emotions, perceptions and so forth.

Narrative Components

Dreams follow a three-step formula seen often in screenwriting and fiction to create narrative arcs for the plot and characters. Any or all can be used in a dream:

  1. Action
  2. Reaction
  3. Resolution

The actions of a dream help to define the symbolism and tell the story. They move the plot. Action is part of every dream, even if it’s just the action of thinking or feeling.

Your reactions during a dream help to uncover the meaning of the symbolism and show how you feel. Most dreams involve reactions, but a minority of them are scripted beginning to end.

The resolution of a dream is the most overlooked yet most important part of a dream, because it points toward how the dream benefits you.

The narrative components are less tangible than the story elements, but are just as important for understanding dreams. Look at them individually and see the story emerge. See the symbolism. Gain clues. Then see how it all fits together into a big picture that connects all the dream details and conveys the message and intent.

Explore Story Elements


Explore Narrative Components