Badly written stories often end with the reveal that the entire story was just a dream. Readers feel cheated when this is done for two reasons: they wanted what was being written to be real for the character, because it felt real to them. The ending feels like a lie and ruins it for the reader, turning a good story into a bad one.
Then there is surrealism.
In surrealism, there is no differentiation between the real and the dream. The dream is not a trick ending, it is not a betrayal.
In his novel, The Windup Bird Chronicles, Haruki Murakami provides dreams that are a way to break through that which divides us. Readers don’t feel cheated, they get pulled deeper into the story, into the character.
We all dream, and in our dreams do amazing things. To misquote J.K Rowling, just because it happens in your head doesn’t make it less real. Dreams are real. A different real than the world in which we walk awake, but no less real.
I dream in color.
I’ve died in one of my dreams, as an axe thrown by a Minotaur split my skull. I died defending the castle and its computer from the Minotaur army. I will never know who won that battle.
I dream stories.
I’ve only had three “real” people in my dreams, ever. One of them is my wife.
I now write dreams into my stories. Dreams in color. Dreams with stories. Dreams that are a way to reveal deeper truths of my characters than can be found in the cold light of day.