This is the third blog post about this topic. If you are interested in my other ideas on the subject, click here and here. OK, let's talk about dreams.
Have you ever had Deja Vu?
I used to have deja vu a lot. But I didn't usually have the feeling that I'd been here before. It was more of a feeling that I dreamed this before.
For example, in high school I was working on a piñata with my class. Just before the project was due, I dreamed about the day that I would turn it in. That's doesn't seem unusual, but what was unusual was the details. On the day I actually did turn it in, everything was a repeated from the dream, down to the words spoken by my friends and the view in my peripheral vision. Deja vu.
Another example was when I dreamed about visiting my aunt's house in Utah. A few months later when I actually did visit my aunt's new house, it was EXACTLY as I had dreamed it from the layout to the fixtures, to the color of the carpet. Deja vu.
The high school deja vu was interesting, but pretty explainable. I knew what my high school looked like, and I could probably guess what my friends would say about the project. Even what I saw out of the corner of my eye was not unusual.
But I had never been to my aunt's house. So how did my brain know what it was like inside?
The Brain is a wonderful thing.
Later, I remembered that just before the dream about my aunt, my mom had described the new house. I think from that description, my Dream part created an image. Could it do it so well, that even the carpet (which my mom did not mention) was the right color? That seems a little farfetched.
I've heard that the brain actually recreates memories every time you remember something. So when I actually visited my aunt's house, my brain recreated the memory of the dream to fit the reality and heighten my sense of deja vu. So maybe I hadn't ACTUALLY dreamed the blue carpet, but I remembered that I had.
My theory is that deja vu is my brain's way of letting me know a certain moment/event/setting in my waking reality is what it was "talking about" in my dreams.
Trying to Create Deja Vu for Readers
As writers, our job is to describe things vividly enough that our readers can imagine them. We want to create something so "real" that if the readers were to actually experience it, they would feel a sense of deja vu.
Just like my mom didn't describe the carpet, writers do not need to describe every detail of the experience. We just need to say enough and let our readers' imagination do the rest.
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)