1. kyle777

    kyle777 Member

    Oct 20, 2008
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    Opening Book with Flashback Dream Prophecy...Thing

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by kyle777, Jul 25, 2014.

    I need a consensus, guys. I've seen this advice a thousand times - never open your novel with a dream sequence, which is what I've been advised against. My manuscript opens with such a device, HOWEVER, I am so torn as to how to proceed with this problem.

    Let me map out my dilemma.

    My novel is about King Arthur and the main character's connection to this ancient king. He has recurring dreams of King Arthur plucking the sword from the stone. However, this dream always ends horrifically, with little squire Arthur being killed, usurped, by a dark being who is set up to be the villain of the story. So it's a flashback, telling Arthur's tale and setting the tone for the rest of the book, as well as a prophecy, as the main character will, at some point, time travel and attempt to save Arthur's life.

    I am so scared this will cause the agent reading my first chapter to throw my manuscript into the fire just because it's set up to be a dream. The following chapter has the main character awakening in a sweat, and the rest of the story is framed by this event, my character figuring out, slowly, the rest of Arthur's story and what happened to these people. So it's vastly important. BUT, there is that age-old advice about not starting a book with a dream.

    I just don't know what to do. It's effective and jarring and appropriately dark, and so damn cohesive as its own element.

    Thoughts on the matter?
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  2. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.
    Write it and then decide if you want to keep or chuck the opening chapter.

    There are a lot of claims about writing books that are more good rules of thumb rather than absolutes. This is one of them. If your dream sequence draws the agent/publisher in, it won't be a problem. If it is hokey or not well written, it won't matter what it is or isn't, it will likely be rejected either way.
  3. A.M.P.

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Contributor

    Sep 30, 2013
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    A Place with no History
    I know a few users who follow the "no flashback" rule adamantely BUT there are writers who do it and their books are very enjoyable. So, write it and keep it if you like it and if it works as a good hook to draw the reader in.

    Another way to "avoid" the flash back is to have the dream come up somewhere during conversation or internal thoughts during the first chapter. He could research recurring dreams, talk to a friend, therapist, see a clairvoyante, or just think about it during his normal day and can't shake the dreams off his mind.

    Lots of options, choose one wisely :p
  4. Nilfiry

    Nilfiry Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2008
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    Eternal Stream
    I think it depends on how long your dream or flashback lasts and its necessity. Otherwise, I see no reason why it is any worse than any other opening technique. I, for one, am insistent on using a short flashback dream as the opening for one of my stories, but it works to introduce the relationship between two characters later.

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