No, I'm not referring to the great MLK, Jr. In fact, if anything, I had ABBA's song in mind.
There are many things I could say about dreams, but I mostly wanted to talk about dreams with regard to my story ideas.
Even though I'm only at the beginning of my writing career, I already get people asking me where I come up with my story ideas. As you may or may not know, Like Father, Like Daughter was not my first book. I wrote eleven books before that ranging from young adult, to historical fiction to more suspense/thrillers. I know even famous authors get this question all the time, so I thought maybe I'd go ahead and answer the question now so in the future, I can just say, "Go read my blog!" Ha ha. Doubt that will work, but one can only hope.
Basically, my ideas mostly come to me at night between when I lay down and when I fall asleep. I think it's because all day I'm at work thinking about legal stuff and then I come home and have to make dinner for my husband and girls and then I only have 2-3 hours to write. So when I lay down and it's quiet and dark, my mind opens up and I can think creatively. I keep a journal by my bedside so I can write down any ideas that come to me at night, too. Sometimes it's a whole story idea, sometimes it's just a character idea, other times, it's just a plot twist or turn. Often, it's just a nugget of an idea that I then work over in my mind for days until it grows into an actual story idea.
Sometimes, but not often, ideas come to me in my sleep. One of my novels came to me completely in a dream, and it's one of my favorites, actually.
Also, I'm a crime fanatic and I watch a lot of crime shows, like Law & Order SVU, Shades of Blue, Forensic Files, and basically anything that airs on Discovery ID. I will freely admit that some of my ideas stem from something I saw on one of those TV shows. Don't get me wrong, I don't steal the whole plot from a show, but they just inspire me sometimes about a particular villain or victim and then the story grows from there in my mind.
For example, Like Father, Like Daughter came to me after I watched a show on Lifetime called "My Father is a Monster" or something like that. It was a series about the family members, usually children, of notorious serial killers. They told the gruesome stories of their family members' killings from their own perspective. I remember thinking as I watched the first episode that I wanted to write a story about a girl whose father was a serial killer. But that wasn't enough to make an entire novel, so I thought and thought for days...what else could I do to the serial killer's daughter? Then it just came to me one day as I was driving my thirty minute commute from work to home. Her husband has been murdered and she's the main suspect because of her family history! And then I just developed it from there.
I keep a Word document called "Story Ideas" on my thumb drive where I have a paragraph summary of all of the books I've written, including 6-7 more story ideas I haven't even started yet. There have been days when I panic because a story idea hasn't come to me in weeks or even months, but eventually, something will inspire me and I can build on that idea and make a full novel out of it.
That about sums it up. I wish I could tell you there was some magic trick to coming up with story ideas. But I'm a firm believer that you can't force creativity. I have never once sat down at my laptop and commanded my brain to come up with an idea. It just doesn't work that way. I'd rather go months, or even years, without writing a new novel than to force one into existence. I just truly don't believe you get good stories by forcing it.
But wait, there's more. I also have to give credit where credit is due. Often times, if I'm stuck and can't get past that "nugget" of an idea, I will come home and start bouncing my ideas off my husband, my girls, or my mother. We'll "soundboard" the ideas as they come out until things come into clear focus and I have the plot and characters developed, at least enough to put them down on paper. This is not to say I don't come up with my own story ideas, at all. I have come up with my own ideas every single time. No one has ever said "hey, write a story about this." But I do have to thank those people in my life who let me bounce ideas off them until they become more focused. There are some stories that woudln't exist today if I didn't have these people in my life.