1. Sudden shifts of context, location, characters; associative “logic” vs. linearity.
2. Acceptance of the bizarre as natural vs. nonacceptance/ sense of mystery (from waking logic): why am I here? who are you? why are we here, why are you here? where are we now?
3. Character-shifting and character blending (e.g., your Auntie Em's personality appears in a stranger's body; or aspects of two of your friends are joined in a single dream-character).
4. Point-of-view shifting and dissonance, watching yourself vs. being yourself, third-person vs. first-person, distance vs. nearness.
5. Time shifting; blending of past, present, and future; odd combinations of references from various parts of your life.
6. Mixing the familiar and the unfamiliar: (a) familiar things in unfamiliar places; (b) unfamiliar things in familiar places.
7. Basic simplicity of plot lines (vs. complexity of all this shifting and blending), e.g.: (a) being pursued; (b) trying to get somewhere = someone takes a journey = a stranger comes to town; (c) trying to accomplish a simple, specific task and encountering resistance, working against constraints.
8. Infinite variety vs. insurmountable obstacles/nonnegotiable boundaries.
9. You had to be there/the self-contained world: being thrust into a complex set of circumstances (in medias res) that's impossible to recall upon waking but which you seemed to fully comprehend in the dream; events only make sense in the dream-story context, are not translatable to other media or states of consciousness.
10. Layers of reality and reflexivity and self-referentiality: lucid dreaming, dreaming about dreaming, dreaming about waking up, etc.
11. Lack of conclusion, denouement, resolution.
12. What you say about the dream-story is more revealing than the story itself, insofar as you are able to reconstruct it for others.
— Alan Richardson, “Dreams as Narrative: The Dramatic Features of REM Sleep,” Chapter 33 of Rhetorical Questions for Therapists in the New Millennium, ed. Mohammed Stout and Floyd Rhomel (Fictitious Press, 1996)