Step 1: Story Elements & Narrative Components

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

Dream interpretation step 1: story elements and narrative components

By breaking down a dream into elements and components, you look at the story and the symbolism of each detail separately. Then, in Steps 2 and  Step 3, connect it all together and figure out how the dream applies to you. You’ll see why this approach works. It’s basic detective work.

  1. Get the facts (Step 1)
  2. Explore and test them against the evidence (Step 2)
  3. Connect the dots (Step 3)

The D3 Dream Interpretation System works in steps because a dream in its entirety can be too much to swallow at once. Instead, take it 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.

D3 DREAMS 1-2-3Some dreams take a while to digest. You won’t figure out the meaning right away. However, from reading the three simple facts about dreams, you know the meaning of your dreams (subconsciously) and interpreting them is mostly a matter of remembering what you already know.

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 into 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. The subject or idea of learning is just one possibility for what a school setting can symbolize, but you have to start somewhere.

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


Think Like a Storyteller

A two-day dream interpretation workshop I gave at Canyon Ranch Spa.

Now to review what you need to know in the hours ahead as you proceed through D3.

Every detail of a motion picture or novel 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 breaking it down into parts and analyzing them individually before Step 2: techniques for interpretation and analysis.

You analyze a dream-story much the same as other stories such as in novels and movies. 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. A fan of cartoons will get a lot of cartoon-like dreams and they can be full of symbolism related to ideas such as living in a fake world, or wasting time outside reality. In which case, a cartoon format in that person’s dream is doubly appropriate because it tells the story well AND in a way which resonates with the person.

Dreams are a bit like journalism and other formulaic writing that follows a structure most of the time, though with dreams we’ll just say they do some of time. They:

  • Tend to show the main subject or idea in the opening scene.
  • Show past, present, and future when presented as fully formed stories.


I’ll explain as we go, especially in Step 2. The final point before we move on:

If you can analyze a story, you can analyze a dream. Anyone can analyze a story. That means anyone can analyze a dream.


Meaning and Dreams

Meaningful dreams are stories. They tell stories about you and your life.

Notice I said meaningful dreams are stories. Some dreams don’t have meaning. Some are psychological digestion or routine messages from the body. 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.

That’s your last reminder.

Before moving on, be sure to check this out if you haven’t already:

Start Here | DREAMS 1-2-3 Dream Interpretation System



Symbolism is the language of your dreams and it’s found throughout them. It’s your foundation, so as you explore the elements and components of dream stories, you gain more knowledge and understanding from the teachings I offer. Make you’ve done this lesson:

Dream Symbolism | Interpreting Dream Stories


Story Elements

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

  1. Settings
  2. Characters
  3. Symbols
dream interpretation dictionary

Use my book to supplement what you learn here.

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 — even the things — 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 and make the dreamer an observer.

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 of a story 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

Story Elements | Dream Settings

Story Elements | Dream Characters

Story Elements | Dreams Symbols


Explore Narrative Components

Narrative Components | Dream Actions

Narrative Components | Dream Reactions

Narrative Components | Dream Resolutions