Flouting the rules. Or not.

**Cross-posted from Writers Gone Wild**

To Dream Or Not To Dream By Maree Anderson ( for Writers Gone Wild)

I love reading Young Adult books. No surprises, then, that I’ve had a go at writing one *g*. It’s, frankly, a welcome relief from writing explicit erotic romance and trying to find new and unusual ways to describe inserting tab A into slot B ;-)

My last YA effort remains unpublished, but it’s got potential I think. Among other things it did win the Maryland Romance Writers “Reveal Your Inner Vixen” contest for a sensual scene between the hero and heroine. And they didn’t even kiss! Ah, teenagers. They’re so deliciously angsty and my-whole–world-is-like-you know-OVER! emotional. Sigh….

This time round, I’m hoping that I’ve got a real winner—one that agents and editors, not just readers and first-round judges will like. My gut feeling is that it’s good. But now, inevitably, the doubts set in. Again.

This is the first “new” story I’ve written since April 2010. I won’t bore you with the details of why that happened. Suffice it to say 2010 was a very busy, stressful year writing-wise. And finally, after a few weeks of being scared shitless that I might not actually be able to write at all, ever again, I decided enough was enough, went with my gut, and buckled down to write this YA.

I’m chuffed as all heck to report it’s finished–yay! And the manuscript is now with a couple of beta-readers while I immerse myself in synopsis hell and take a hike across the blurb badlands etc., in preparation for jumping on the query treadmill. (Should have sent out a purple prose warning for that last bit, huh? Sorry.)

And now I have a dilemma. You see, I’m a habitual industry blog reader. So a couple of months back, when my work-in-progress was in its infancy, I spotted a list of agent or editor (can’t remember which, now) pet hates. And to my chagrin, what did I see on the list? Something like, “Do not begin the opening scene of your story with the hero or heroine having a dream.”

Mmm. Me, being me, that is, woefully insecure, and for the most part convinced that my writing blows chunks despite contest wins and yanno, actually having four books published, I immediately opened up my manuscript and changed the beginning.

I mean, why wouldn’t I? Who’s gonna risk an “Oh God. She started the bloody story with a bloody dream sequence. Epic fail. Where the hell is my form rejection letter?” In my defense, that dream bit is significant, though, so I used it to kick off Chapter 2. (And of course I did save the original beginning, because I am that writer who has multiple versions of her manuscripts saved in folders on her computer, *g*.)

So what’s the problem? I hear you asking. Well, the problem is that my beta-readers think the opening chapter is pretty good. But what really sucked them into the story and made them go, “Oooh! Oooh! Now you’ve got me on the edge of my seat!” is—you guessed it—Chapter 2. With the dream scene. And, opinionated readers that they are, they reckon I should go with my first instincts, and go with my original beginning.


Am I shooting myself in the foot by starting off a story with an industry professional’s “pet hate”? Must be one that really irks them if they cared enough to blog about it, right?

Or do I put on my big-girl panties (in my case they’re Thunderpants, because they don’t go up your bum, and when you spending as much time sitting down as I do, a g-string almost requires surgical removal from your butt-cheeks) and go, “Sod it. I’m going with my instincts. So there!”

Your feedback, as always, is precious to me! So feel free to have at it.


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2 Responses to “Flouting the rules. Or not.”

  1. Maree, I’m believer in going with gut (and beta readers’) instincts. And you know? What one agent hates another loves and for every rule there is an exception. Honestly, I think it always comes down to individual stories,and it sounds to me like the original opening works. I truly understand your dilemma – been there/done that – but I think there comes a time when you just have to trust your story and take a deep breath and go for it. A lot of great stories broke the ‘so-called’ rules and still got pubbed! Good luck, honey!

    • Thanks so much for this, Kerri! I took another look at that original opening scene and dayum it’s good! A bit of tweaking later, and there it is, back where it belongs. So I’m letting out that deep breath now *g*.