If you’ve at any point been following my blog, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I like dreams; I like writing about them, reading about them, and seeing them adapted to the screen (when done right). But I’m talking about horror this month, so specifically I’m going to dive into the world of nightmares here.
I think part of the reason I’m so fascinated by dreams and nightmares is because I used to have a lot of nightmares when I was a kid. I hated them, of course. It’s rare that I ever have a nightmare that I can think back on and decide I like (other than for pulling from for story ideas). Yes, it is possible to have an enjoyable nightmare, but then again, if it was enjoyable, maybe it wasn’t a nightmare at all. No, probably not, just a strangely enjoyable dark dream.
The thing about nightmares – when utilized in fiction – is that there are so many possibilities to be had with it. The most obvious example is the Nightmare on Elm Street series. A child killer who was burned to death by angry parents manifests in the dreams of those peoples’ children to kill them out of revenge? It’s bad enough to have a dream about someone trying to kill you (I can attest to that from experience), but when those dreams cross the boundaries of reality, you’re straight up boned.
Another examples is, of course, Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 (what’s with all the Freddy’s around here?) A child’s favorite cartoon characters turn nightmarish after something scares him. Now he stays up all night to try and ward them off, never sleeping at all – or maybe he is asleep and it’s all just one horrible, endless nightmare that you only wake from when the alarm goes off in the morning.
Nightmares often prey on the oldest fear of mankind: fear of the unknown. Many times in nightmares, we don’t know what it is we’re supposed to be afraid of. We just get an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety while dreaming. That’s how dreams work, is by preying on your senses and emotions. It’s not really about the actions that happen in the dream at all. Some of my worst dreams ever sound ridiculous and silly when explained out loud, but you can’t accurately convey the feelings you were having while in the dream.
People (usually people who have never really suffered from nightmares) like to say that just because they didn’t physically happen to you, nightmares are nothing to worry about. “It was just a dream, it wasn’t real, what’s the big deal?” Well, as I said, dreams prey upon your senses, your emotions. They will have real psychological effects on you. So just Freddy Krueger sliced into your arm in a dream and you didn’t actually wake up bleeding in the real world, it doesn’t mean that it can be brushed aside as if it were nothing.
Why do I love horror? It helps me cope with the nightmares I’ve had in my past. Writing about such things helps me cope as well. I’ve already seen and lived out the worst horror movies imaginable while I’ve slept. Other horror movies are tame compared to them. Besides, in dreams you rarely have closure like you would with stories. That’s how it can help you cope. It shows you something deeper. Something about the human mind, and possibly how to give yourself closure for everything bad that’s happened.
Not to mention, having a whole story world about dreams and how they work doesn’t hurt when coping with your own nightmares as well. Especially when you end up dreaming about your own characters and they can help you out.
Sleep tight. The King and Prince of Nightmares may be watching for you, but there are many other dreams out there for you to run to. The Lord of Dreams watches you as well.