"In the novel, [blank] awakes from a colorful and frightening dream."
If I read this opening scene one more time, I’m going to slash my wrists. Only kidding of course, but I can see by the gleam of joy in your eyes that you think this not such a bad idea. :)
Writers—do not open your novel with someone waking from a dream or a nightmare or even after enjoying a raucous roll in the hay. Why not? Because it’s been done hundreds of times by every writer under the sun, that’s why. Like most clichés, the waking up opening is so shopworn that it smells like old wet sweat socks.
Of course, other openings are just as shopworn, such as the ringing phone or moving to new home or a different town or a new home in a different town. It seems every YA or middle-grade novel written these days begins with a student whose parents have moved and Janie or Jacky or Kayla is having a difficult time adjusting to the new kids or whatever. Surely there is something else going on in young adults’ lives besides facing the trauma of fitting in at a new school. On a side note, another idea that has become totally overused is that the main character in the novel is some kind of writer, whether it’s for adults or for kids. This has been done for years, and I think the shine has definitely rubbed off of it by now.
And, of course, these openings are going to be overused because they seem like natural places to begin a novel, especially the waking up idea. But to be taken seriously, you are going to have to do better than to copy everyone else. Yes, I know, the damn DaVinci Code started with the guy waking up and it sold millions of copies. This, however, proves my point. It’s been done, so think of another way to open your story.
If you want to be taken seriously as a new writer, you cannot copy what someone else has done and that includes ideas, plot lines, characters, and all the other elements that made up someone else’s success. There is only one DaVinci Code and one Harry Potter and one Mineral Spirits (hey, like I’m not going to plug my own client here?), so copying any of its aspects only gives me and every other agent a built-in excuse to reject your work. Don’t make it so easy on us.