1. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    Starting with a dream

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by lemurkat, Jan 24, 2011.

    I had an interesting idea for how my next novel would start - then I realised - it was a dream. And although very relevant to the plot, I suspect I would be breaking one of the cardinal sins of good story writing.

    Okay, here's the basic premise: Character is of lineage where traditionally the people have a psychic connection with a particular creature. The species varies, but these are refered to as the person's "Familiar". One of the abilities this creates is the chance for the person to go into a trance and - I suppose "hitchhike" (or "borrow", Pratchett style) that animal's mind.

    Right, our MC doesn't know she's of this bloodline, she's never met her father (that she can remember) and doesn't have any idea who (or what) he is. All she knows is that she is somewhat empathic ("sensitive"). She lives in an eco-village/commune and is vegetarian.

    However, she starts having this vicious, brutal dreams that she is hunting and killing animals. This is not because she's a werewolf or similar, but because when she is sleeping, a mental bond is forming between her and her Familiar - an animal that she has no memory of ever meeting. This animal is, of course, a predator.

    So... the question is (Aside from "does this sound corny or cheesy?") is:
    Should I start with her dreaming of hunting and killing some poor innocent beasty? Or with her waking abruptly, the taste of blood in her mouth?

    Can a good writer make the "start with a dream" thing work?
     
  2. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    I think it would be better if she was awake while having these dreams. If it causes conflict around her it would be a better hook
     
  3. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    Hmmm, like sitting in class, staring out the window, her mind beginning to wander.... I like it! Thanks!

    Sometimes a bit of outside insight really gets the brainworms going.

    Now all I need to do is starting writing.
     
  4. nzric
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    nzric Active Member

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    I think it would be interesting to start it where the MC has been having the dreams for a while, and is trying to come to terms with it. Yes, having her see through the eyes of a predator and/or wake up after the scary dream could be a good start but it has been done many times before.

    e.g. how about the MC trying to keep herself awake because she's worried about the dreams and doesn't understand them?

    Or maybe there's a tradition in the community to talk about your own relationship with your "familiar" and we follow the MC's thoughts as she lies about the animal bond she is making because she doesn't want them to know the truth?

    Or what about if the dreams are changing her personality in some way, making her more angry and prone to violence? Depending on the age of the MC it could pick up when she gets into trouble (out of character for her) and some kind of conflict/argument could reveal, to just her or to the community, that the "familiar" is influencing her?
     
  5. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    Loads of good food for thought! I love this community ^^ *pondering and plotting*
     
  6. WastelandSurvivor
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    WastelandSurvivor Member

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    Definitely bring the "dream" into the waking world. Perhaps you could start the story with a dream, but don't let it be a one-and-done deal--integrate it into your MC's daily life. Daydreaming becomes the dream. Eating becomes the dream. A fight becomes the dream. Intertwine your MC's life with the dream so closely that it becomes hard for your MC to tell the difference between the two. That is, after all, the sort of connection you are going for, right? A bond between human and Familiar that is so strong it can be difficult to differentiate the two?
     
  7. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If dreams are an important aspect of your story there's absolutely nothing wrong with starting it with one. Don't let never-do rules trip you up completely.
     
  8. Tesgah
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    Tesgah Member

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    A good writer can make anything work, absolutely anything. Personally I've read a couple of stories which starts similary to your story, and I have never had a problem with it. Just make your own unique twist to it and it'll work out splendidly ;)
     

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