You’re opening chapter one. The scene is enthralling, it’s coming to the climax when the character screams in horror and suddenly –

They wake up.

*reader groans, closes book, and puts it back on the shelf*

You, the reader, feel cheated. No one likes to feel cheated. But is opening your book with a dream always a bad idea?

About 99% of the time, I would say yes. But there’s that 1% exception. And that 1% exception, is what I am going to talk about.

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I recently starting reading the Harbingers by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky (phew, that was a mouthful). Anyway…the book is divided in four short stories. And one of the stories opened with a dream sequence.

At first I didn’t realize it was a dream, it felt very real and normal, then suddenly is GOT SUPER CREEPY AND….

She woke up. *initiate disappointing sigh from me*

BUT, the dream remained relevant. The character kept thinking about it, and more than that, things kept happening that were similar to the dream. It kept me on my toes. I kept waiting for the dream to play out, and then suddenly, it did.

BUM BUM BUUUUMM.

The dream was used to build suspense. And not only was I as a reader waiting on the edge of seat for it to be played out, but IT WAS PLAYED OUT.

If you are using a dream to build suspense, it must have meaning in the end, it can’t just fall flat out to, well, the character was just having nightmares. It has to reach it’s fulfillment.

Obviously it may still frustrate a reader at first. So, if you do need a dream sequence maybe not put it at the beginning. But I wouldn’t scratch dreams from your vocabulary.

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