Step 1: Story Elements & Narrative Components

DREAMS 1-2-3 | Step One | Story Elements and Narrative ComponentsDream story elements, narrative components

Meaningful dreams are stories. They have story elements, like settings and characters. They have narrative components, like actions and reactions. They tell stories about yourself and your life.

As stories, dreams can be analyzed and understood the same as a novel, movie, or television show. Which is fortunate, otherwise it would be difficult to take a systematic approach to understanding dreams.

Notice that I said meaningful dreams are stories. Some dreams don’t have meaning. The imagery is created by your brain clearing out the memory banks or activating subconscious processes that regulate the body and mind, digesting the bits of gruel left over from the day. Most of these dreams go unremembered and pass away with hardly a notice.

Meaningful dreams are memorable. They make an impression. They engage your emotions.

You do not need a degree in psychology to understand dreams, nor do you need to see a guru or specialist. What you really need is some lessons in understanding symbolism, the language of dreams, and some practice with basic dream interpretation techniques (see Step 2).

Let’s begin with story elements. Keep in mind that everything in a dream is symbolism, including the elements and components.

Story Elements | Settings – Characters – Symbols

All stories have a few things in common. They take place somewhere, in a setting, sometimes in multiple settings.

They have characters, sometimes many characters.

They have some sort of symbols and/or symbolism, including metaphors, figures of speech, word plays, and analogies.

These are called story elements. They are the nuts and bolts of stories.

The DREAMS 1-2-3 system breaks down a dream into story elements, considers the symbolism of each element, and uses that information to help build up an interpretation in Step Two.

Each story element has an extensive explanation at this site, including many example dreams to really paint the picture. Take your time and learn about each story element. It’s the first step to really understanding your dreams. Use the following links:




Narrative Components | Action – Reaction – Resolution

The narrative components of a story are less tangible than the story elements, but are just as important for understanding dreams. By looking at the narrative components individually you see the story emerge and get clues to the big picture. Ultimately, it leads to understanding the message and intent of the dream.

As with story elements, the narrative components are used in Step Two to build up the interpretation. First, though, each is looked at individually and the possibilities for symbolism are considered.


The actions of a dream help to define the symbolism and move along the plot.

The reactions of the dreamer also help to define the symbolism, and are especially helpful for revealing how the dreamer feels.

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.

Each of the three narrative components has an extensive discussion at this site. Use the following links: