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There are a number of ways that a writer can begin a story about a girl's having a dream about her mother's funeral. But, essentially the writer must be concerned with establishing some reason for such a dream. Has the mother been ill? Has she exhibited behaviors that indicate despair and a predisposition for suicidal tendencies?
Including the extenuating circumstances that prompt this dream are what need to be included in the narrative. However, they may be revealed in stages, rather than all at once. In fact, doing so will generate more interest in the reader. And, do not forget the advantages of using flashbacks which enable the writer to focus dramatically on single moments or feelings.
If the story starts with the dream, I wouldn't worry about explaining it until she wakes up. The dream might contain some of the following:
- memories -- if the dream is meant to be a more literal rememberance of a funeral that actually happened in the past.
- symbols -- whether the funeral actually happened already in the character's past or not, you could put some symbols in the dream that the girl would either demonstrate or figure out in the rest of the story.
- purpose -- why is she dreaming it? Is this the first time? Or is it a recurring dream that she's had since her mother's death?
Since the dream is the beginning of the story, you are trying to put something into the reader's mind to contemplate (also perhaps into the character's mind). Then the rest of the story will gradually help unfold the meaning and/or purpose of the dream. Maybe the dream is just there to show us what the girl is like. Or maybe it plays a more direct role -- it's up to you and the story you want to tell.
Remembering a dream as a flashback can also be an effective way to begin a story. As someone suggested, the dream can kind of stand alone as an opening episode to be explained later. Right after the dream the girl (or woman if time has passed) can be doing whatever you want her to do or be, and this dream or some kind of recurring dream can be a way of slowly revealing something which happens later in the story. Best of luck on your writing!
You might try starting the story by describing everything at the funeral. You can cut out what you don't want or need later, but if you can picture the scene in your head and describe it for readers, then they will likely be able to visualize it too, plus descriptive openings tend to catch a reader's interest too. By the time you get done describing the scene, you can then describe the girl, and you've got them.
Also, since it's a dream, consider which kinds of irregularities might be taking place, things that seem out of place or unreal, then place these clues a little later in your opening to suggest to the reader that something is a little off. Happy writing!
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