An entire dream can be too much to digest all at once. That’s why my D3 process takes you step by step, beginning with Step 1: story elements and narrative components. Identify them first.

In Step 2 you interpret the symbolism of the elements and components and analyze their use in the dream’s story.

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)

D3 Step 1: Story Elements

Any or all of these story 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.

D3 Step 1: 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 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 as a big picture that connects all the dream details and conveys the message and intent.

One piece at a time

A dream deliberately uses each story element and narrative component for its symbolism and how it fits as part of a story. The pieces link together like a puzzle, and when you work a puzzle you do it a piece at a time.

If you can figure out one part of a dream, you can use the answer to decode other parts, another reason why we identify each part in Step 1. 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 trying to find your locker.

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 for what something in a dream means till one pings you with recognition and you say to yourself, I remember now. That’s what it means.

Here’s a 4-part video lesson on school dreams.

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’s 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. Clients undergoing Jungian analysis are known for having “Jungian dreams.”

If you can analyze a story, you can analyze a dream. And since everyone can analyze a story, everyone can analyze a dream. Let’s get started. Below is the lesson: Dream Settings.