Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday Teaser--I am a Rule Breaker

Okay, I’m not really a rule breaker. Not without seriously considering the consequences and ramifications of breaking the rule, and then it still takes me forever to decide what I want to do. I’m lame, I know. Right now I’m contemplating succumbing to the peer pressure laid on by one of my critters (thank you, Becca), and breaking one of the big rules about how a novel should start. There are plenty of agent sites out there with lists of things that agents don’t like to see for an opening scene. Opening with a dream is a huge no-no, and I’ve been leaning toward doing this for a while to ramp up my first chapter. Problem is, I can’t get past the thought of an agent passing on my ms because of it. Of course, I was breaking the no opening with dialogue rule before, so I don’t know what my problem is.

With that in mind, I rewrote the beginning of my first chapter. Now it opens with a dream and dialogue. I feel so empowered, going up against the man. :) Just wondering if it sucks you in and makes you want to read more, or does it just suck? Maybe there’s a middle ground?

And do you consider yourself a rule breaker or a rule follower? It seems like there are so many “rules” out there. It’s hard to keep track of all of them.

Update: I rewrote it again, so I removed it. Thanks everyone for your thoughts! They were very helpful in getting me where I think I need to be on this.


  1. Yaaay, you wild woman! I'm glad I could help corrupt you ;). I really like this opening!

    I love the line "'Faster. You must move faster.' The deep voice echoed through the void, propelling me forward, giving strength to my weary legs." I'm not sure if this would work, but maybe this could be that opening sentence that drags us in?

    Good stuff, Abby!

  2. Wow, Becca! Thank you! Awesome suggestion. I'm changing it right now. I've been mulling over that line, trying to decide if I wanted to keep it. I think the beginning is the perfect place for it. Yea!

  3. *grin*

    I follow the rules. Completely. Unless they're stupid rules, and then I don't. :D

    It's funny how many writers I've heard warning against this opening, and then I find newly published books with the very openings the writers were decrying. The honest truth is that many readers are not writers. What bugs the Writers, will probably slip under the Reader's radar. In the end, it's your writing and your story that will speak for itself. :D

  4. Go on with your bad self and break those rules! Seriously, though, I love openings with dialogue, especially interesting dialogue. My only beef with your excerpt is that you mention that your MC knows she's dreaming. If it were me, I'd leave that line out, and just let her move forward. Then, when her mom starts calling her name, it's like we're waking up with her (that sounds kind of creepy--didn't mean for it to) ... you know, we get the same disoriented "where the heck is my mom's voice coming from?" feeling that she does, before we realize it was all a dream. I loved the "maybe i'm crazy, maybe i'm not" bit in the last paragraph--nice foreshadowing of things to come. obviously, this medallion is going to show up again. (i mean, right??) :)

  5. Danyelle-I love what you said about stupid rules. Sadly, even those are hard for me to break. :)

    jessjordan-You make a good point. My rule-following self wrote that line, thinking it would lessen the impact of breaking the rule. Baby steps, right? I'm leaning towards taking it out. Thanks for your input! :)

  6. They are for me too, but I'm doing better there. Sleep deprivation and four kidlets that have the ability to replicate themselves will do that to you. ;-)

  7. I don’t think you should open with a dream. For one, there’s a big risk involved. If you want to be a rule breaker, why not do it on the next book, once you have an agent? Secondly, I don’t believe the dream works. It’s well written and I do get into it, but then it’s a disappointment only to learn it’s a dream and not the main storyline. This sets the story up in a totally different way than I think (I don’t know because I haven’t read more than what you’ve posted here) the story is written. The pace is different and so is the voice.

    Here’s where I think you should start:

    “I opened my eyes and groaned at the video camera hovering inches from my face. “Ugh. Go away.” My hand closed around the lens, and I shoved it back, pulling my pillow over my head. The pounding in my chest slowed, her presence reducing my anxiety.”

    This hooks me because I want to know why she’s waking up to a video camera in her face. Hooks don’t have to be action-based or suspenseful in the traditional sense. You just want to intrigue the reader into wanting to know more. This beginning would do that.

    I hope this helps.

    Lynnette Labelle


  8. Thanks for your thoughts, Lynnette!

  9. I didn't get to read it :(

    See, now I thought opening with dialogue (and therefore, an action scene) was good, especially if it's an interesting statement. Here is how my newest WIP opens:

    “You can’t marry him, Mia.”

    “I can and I will,” she replied and peered into the antique mirror above the vanity in the dressing room of the small chapel.

    I did start one of my stories with a dream, but that story had all kinds of issues...namely I was not good at writing a story first person from a man's POV!!