Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cover Dream (or Thank Goodness My Nose Wasn't Red)

Today's blog post is about dreams and waking up.

Hahaha! I betcha thought I was going to write about how it's not a good idea to start a novel with a dream sequence or with your MC waking up.

If I'm being honest, and I am, I have to tell you that my first attempt at writing a middle grade novel began with my MC waking up to the sound of her alarm clock ringing, complete with the onomatopoeia, Rrrring! (btw, how cool is the word onomatopoeia? I love saying it but totally had to look up the spelling. Four vowels in a row? Cool! /spellingnerdtangent). I proceeded to write a backstory scene while Samantha was lying in bed thinking about it. I thought it was gold. Ugh. Bo-ring. Little did I know at the time, waking up scenes at the beginning of a story are a big no-no with agents and editors.

What this post is really about is the dream I had last night. I hardly ever remember my dreams and I've never had a dream about writing. I've never pulled a Stephenie Myer either. Right before I woke up I had a dream of walking in a bookstore. Not a ginormous bookstore like a Barnes & Noble, but instead I walked into a messy, disorganized room with books piled haphazardly on tables and chairs. As I glanced around I recognized a book cover from a friend (perhaps yours, Donna?) and thought, "How cool!" Then I turned around and there it was...

My book! With a big ol' picture of me grinning on the cover! Ha! As if that would sell a boatload of books. But in the dream I looked at it and said, "Hey, that's not so bad! Thank goodness they picked a pretty good picture of me. And my nose doesn't look like Rudolph's." How weird is that?

I stink at dream analysis, but maybe it's a good omen; a dream I hope will come true some day. But I think I'd like to keep my author pic on the inside of the cover. In the back. Hmm, maybe a black and white.


  1. *hee* Right there on the cover! Wow conceited much ;p (totally teasing). I don't know but I blogged about the dream I had on Sunday night and I'm still crossing my fingers that it doesn't come true...

    But your dream! Now that's a dream I'd like (cept it'd be me center cover *wink*)

  2. At least I looked good, right? (totally kidding). I hope your dream cover comes true too!

  3. YAY! I can't wait for the day when we are on the same shelf, Suzie!

    Last night I dreamt I was in my own version of Bleak House. It was actually pretty good.

  4. My first story I wrote when I was 8 or 9 ended with the MC waking up from a dream. Bad idea! Plot device-- MC wakes up and guess what it was all a dream!

  5. I've heard that too, about not starting stories with a character waking up from a dream... any idea why it's considered bad storytelling? Is it just too cheap of a way to get inside a character's head / show what motivates them, or something? Is there any way to do it right, or is it just not worth trying if you want to sell the book?

  6. From what I've read, Jason, unless it's brilliant storytelling, most agents and editors don't look favorably on dream sequences at the beginning. A dream gives the reader almost a "false" beginning or hook. It can confuse or disorient the reader who doesn't know the main character yet. The thought is, why should the reader care if he/she hasn't invested any time in gettting to know the MC? Some writers also use it as an info dump at the beginning which should be avoided.

    Here's a link about novel beginnings from literary agent, Mary Kole, at that I found useful. She doesn't mention dreams here specifically, but it follows along the same reasoning.

    Does anyone else want to weigh in?

  7. A belated thanks for the response and link, Suzie! I'll check it out. And I think your explanation makes sense as to why it's often a bad idea. I wouldn't be surprised if agents and editors just move on to the next submission when they see that, just in the interest of time.. even if there might be the occasional story out there where it works brilliantly.

    I always cringe when I hear these very general "rules", but at the same time, there's usually a good reason for them. And if you want to try to break them, have a good reason for it and be prepared to suffer the consequences..