View Full Version : Beginning with dream sequence?

Anthony Matias
02-10-2008, 09:04 PM
I wanted to know what people thought of beginning a YA with a dream sequence? Thanks!

02-10-2008, 09:24 PM
I think it's done a lot, so it's hard to make it fresh. I'm loath to say that one SHOULDN'T do something just because others have done it first. Just be aware that it's something agents and publishers have seen a lot of. You'll have to work even harder to make your pages stand out.

Have you checked out Rachel Vater's blog? She talks about beginning your book with a dream sequence.

02-11-2008, 04:05 AM
Like anything else if done right it can work despite the fact its been done many many times before.

It all depends on how you spin it to make your take on it unique.

Good luck.

Shady Lane
02-11-2008, 04:11 AM
No soy un fan.

02-11-2008, 04:14 AM
Problem is that the reader buys in to what's happening, and starts to invest, and then you kind of pull the rug out from under them. Which can cause them to throw the book across the room, narrowly missing their cat (or dog). If you can find a way to pull them in and KEEP them, or a reason you have to have a dream in the opening, then don't let anyone tell you that's it's against the rules. because rules were made to be ..... um, my cliche alert is going off.

02-11-2008, 04:15 AM
One of the oft-cited problems with dreams at the beginning is that the reader gets involved with the story, and then it's like, "psych!" Then the whole thing restarts. So it's a little harder to trust the author and the story.

Then of course, there's the overdone thing.

That doesn't mean that it shouldn't be done under any circumstances. Just it should be considered hard before being used. If it's really necessary, go for it.

ETA: If the dream(s) are necessary, is there any way to move it back in the novel.? Does it really have to be in the beginning? Then the reader knows more what to expect.

Momento Mori
02-11-2008, 03:10 PM
Basically, I agree with what everyone else has said. Speaking personally, I'd really think about why the dream sequence is needed. As a generalism, they seem to be used to either:

(a) foreshadow something (in which case, you could achieve the same effect by having a short scene showing the relevant characters);

(b) set up backstory (in which case, you could achieve the same effect by having a short scene showing the relevant characters); or

(c) to demonstrate some some of ability on the part of the dreaming character (in which case, you could achieve the same effect by having the character show that ability when conscious - unless you have a character who can tell the future in their dreams, in which case ... you probably can't).


Moon Daughter
02-11-2008, 05:28 PM
What if the dream is about something that actually happened in the past? I don't think that's an investment wasted if it somehow moves the story along or any dream for that matter.

Momento Mori
02-11-2008, 10:00 PM
Moon Daughter:
What if the dream is about something that actually happened in the past?

My answer to that are a couple of questions (sorry):

- Can you instead show that event as it actually happened, i.e. as a separate scene in its own right?

- If you don't want to have it as a separate event, can you instead refer back to it later on in the story?

The problem that I have with "dreaming memories" is that it feels very artificial and cliche because essentially the author is trying to combine their inciting incident with the introduction of their main character.


Anthony Matias
02-12-2008, 02:45 AM
I want to thank you all for your input and opinions.

(C) is correct Momento!

Let me shine a bit more light on my idea.

The dream sequence at the beginning of the ms, turns out to be a precognitive event of the mc's later on but she doesn't pick up on it immediately. In fact, if the mc would have been attuned to this precognitive ability, then she would have possibly been able to divert some of the tragic events that happened after the opening dream.

02-12-2008, 10:14 PM
I actually had a dream about beginning with a dream sequence. I remember thinking, gee I should probably fix this...

Anthony Matias
02-12-2008, 10:46 PM
Yeah. I suppose it's one of those "falling onto your own blade" moments. And although dream sequences have been done before (like many other things) I've found that trying to reinvent the "wheel" is something I won't be able to do very easily. That being said, I will do my best to expand on the "wheel" and to try and give it a new look. After all, the "wheel" is really quite useless unless you give it a vehicle to carry.

02-13-2008, 01:47 AM
You could start with a dream sequence. But it should be eccentric and megalomanical.
that's my kind of stuff, anyway.
Make my imagination, as a reader, go wild!
If you stuff like....someone who the MC loves, falling down a precipice or saying hello, and then the MC wakes up and it's revealed to the reader that the loved one is dead....I roll my eyes, honestly.
But it's YOUR story, lol. Write whatever you want!

Perhaps making your characters fears and likes and dislikes into eccentric stuff like the cat from Alice in Wonderland would be interesting.
But if that's not how you tell your story, then so be it.

You are YOU.