Thursday, March 15, 2012

To Dream or Not to Dream

That is the question I'm facing right now in my revisions. Chapter 1 starts off with a (somewhat) dream sequence. I say somewhat because it is an actual event that happens but Victoria (my MC) believes it to be a dream and her Dad assures her that it is. The event is revisited in a different way later in the work so it fits. I've revised the chapter so it can start either way, with the "dream" or without. And either way works. It may lose a bit of the foreshadowing but it isn't something that would be greatly missed if left off.

Why would I write two separate beginnings to my novel? My research shows starting with a dream sequence is a big no-no. Agents, editors, fellow writers and readers seem to poo-poo the idea. Many of them say that it turns them off. I find the majority of people think this way and I get it. It is a element that is often overused and to no real benefit to the story.

Granted I haven't sent it out to my critique partners yet so I haven't gotten any feed back. I would just hate to make a full set of revisions and then get it back and hear it needs to go. I have been going back and forth on this for weeks. I've completely stalled out.

So what do you think? Should the sequence stay in? Would a YA starting with a dream cause you to put it down?


  1. I've heard that one shouldn't start with a dream sequence as well. Send both to your critique partners and see what they say.

  2. If it is necessary for the story keep it. The thing with agents is they are pmuch only taking people that they meet and know from writer's conferences and/or ones that are famous. So unless you plan to shell out the bucks to get to know an agent by attending a conference, the it won't matter anyway because your chances of landing an agent the old fashioned way (a simple query letter) are abysmally low. You'd sooner almost win the lottery. And with those low a chances a dream sequence or a non-dream sequence is going to depend on how essential it is to the story.

    Now...onto the reason why dream sequences are considered a no-no.

    The reason is simple...readers don't like feeling cheated. IN other words...they are into the story and was all a dream and actually didn't happen. Thus, you've wasted the readers time.

    So that is the key. Are you wasting the reader's time with a dream sequence? If the answer is "No, Mike. My dream sequence advances the story." Then you need to KEEP IT.

    I hope that helps.