The opening line of a book is so important to the success of a novel that I lack the words to convince you. The opening scene is what decides whether an agent will read on. They receive tens – if not hundreds – of submissions a day, so I need to make my own stand out. This is a sample excerpt from Chapter One of Conniption, a flash forward that the rest of the book works back from. Please, leave a comment below and tell me if this scene would make you read on, or, more importantly, pick this book off a shelf and purchase it.
All your critiques are welcome.
Chapter One (Scene One)
“Bring her back.”
The old man stayed silent.
“Do you not hear me you stupid lunatic. Bring. Her. Back.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Codswallop you can’t. I know you can. I know it. You have some spell. Some trick. You must do,” the boy’s arms waved frantically as if he could flap hard enough he’d fly away. Or at least hover and not fall further into despair. “Please, Magellan, I’ve never asked you for a thing. But I am now. Please bring her back. Please,” the tears burst over his red raw eyelids and ran down his muddy cheek, carving crooked runes on his face.
“I can’t do that that,” he said again, calmly, though the wind came bursting through the bushes and ruffled his green robes, sending a chill through his body.
“You can. Please. Please, I didn’t mean it. She was in so much pain.”
“You killed her.”
Rennoc looked at him as if he’d just started singing and banging on a tambourine. He saw the old man’s lips move and heard the words but couldn’t understand what he’d said.
“She was hurting. She couldn’t go on like…like that. She was becoming a monster.”
“I can’t bring her back.”
“I had to – you believe me, don’t you? I had to. I couldn’t let her become like me, I couldn’t let her lose her innocence like that. I had to save her from herself. I had to save us all. You believe me, right?”
“That doesn’t matter,” Magellan could barely contain the bile that burned his throat from spilling from his lips and spitting at the boy. “I can’t bring her back.”
“Then I will. Tell me the spell. Tell me. I command you, do you hear me? I command you to tell me the spell that will bring her back. Now.”
“There is no spell.”
“There MUST BE,” a flock of pigeons, watching nervously yet nosily, nearby, flocked into the sky at the sound of the Sahrail’s raised voice, at the force of the power that pulsed from him. “Look at her.”
But the old man couldn’t and refused to move his head. The boy was stalking back and forth, pacing, magic at his fingertips. The power crackled like lightning and sent smoke wafting through the air like flame.
“I said LOOK AT HER,” he was more demon than boy now, his voice deep and darker than the magic that was flowing through his veins. “There’s no power there now. She can come back. She can come back and be safe. I’ll protect her. Bring her back. BRING HER BACK.”
More tears carved more runes and twisted his face in unadulterated grief.
He was ugly and more broken now than he’d ever been before.
“Rennoc, I can’t. You can’t. No one can. Magic can’t bring back the dead – it shouldn’t.”
“Maybe your magic,” Rennoc said coldly, all emotion draining from him like the life that had drained from his dead adversary as he snapped her soul in two. “But I am more than you, more than anyone, more than anything that’s ever been. And that means I can do whatever I damn well like.
“Good bye,” the boy – now a man – said as he flicked his fingers and sent a spell fizzing like a hive of bees at his old friend. Wrapping itself around his frail body it threw him far away, the world becoming a blur. Only the horrid look of evil stamped across his young ward’s face glittered before his eyes.