In the first few paragraphs of Dark Tidings, I tried to set the scene for one of the threads of the adventure. Tung, one of the main protagonists, finds himself awaiting execution in a medieval dungeon and I wanted to create the sense of utter despair and hopelessness which he felt.
I think it works well as a scene-setter but I often wonder whether there’s enough in it to hook potential readers. Using Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature, many people check out the first few pages so grabbing the attention is vital.
The other attention-grabber is the blurb and I’ve included what I use for Dark Tidings below. Again, I wonder if it contains enough hooks to make people want to read more i.e. buy the book.
What do you think?
Chapter 1 – No Rest for the Wicked
Way back in the medieval mists of time, long before most people counted which century was which, Tung shivered violently on the ice-cold stone floor of the executioner’s dungeon.
Dark, dank and putrid were the words an unscrupulous property merchant might have used to glamorise this miserable dungeon, no words were hideous or nauseating enough to describe the true horror of this dreadful place. To be fair though, it wasn’t all bad, at least the green slime, which oozed like pus from small cracks in the walls, added some colour to the drab greyness.
Tung huddled in the darkest corner of the freezing granite cell wishing he was dead. He wouldn’t have to wait long for his wish to come true because he was due to be tortured to death the very next day. Roll on death, it couldn’t come a moment too soon. He was soaking wet, bruised, starving and parched with thirst. Yes, roll on death.
All he could do was pray for the merciful nothingness of sleep before the excruciating morning. He tossed and turned like an agitated foetus. How could anyone sleep in this frightful place? Hands over ears, he tried to shut out the sounds of torturers’ hammers smashing bones, the metallic clunk of ratchets on the racks and the anguished screams which echoed forlornly down stone corridors. Rank stenches crept under the door to assault his nostrils, the acrid stink of flesh seared by white-hot branding irons overwhelming the other odours of human sweat, urine and excrement. Wails of despair reverberated inside his head. Did these evil tormentors never rest?
By some miracle, his brain dragged his tortured body into an uneasy slumber. Praise the gods for the gift of sleep, at least he still had this last sanctuary. His nightmares replayed his pathetic life as his subconscious tried to figure out how he’d ended up in this pitiful mess. The work of the devil, no doubt – with a little help from his fiends.
Chapter 1 continues in the book.
As I said, the blurb is another key part of the challenge to attract readers and it also helps set the scene for the story. Here’s what I use for Dark Tidings:
What happens when ancient magic meets the internet? One thing is certain, modern life will never be the same again.
A thousand years ago, a young thief, Tung, and a disgraced wizard, Madrick, are thrust together in an executioner’s dungeon. In the darkness, Madrick reveals an incredible secret about a legendary spell. The great spell helps them escape their prison cell… and eventually their century.
Catapulted into the present day, their lives collide with Michael, a computer hacker who plans to destroy the world’s largest bank. But sinister people are tracking their every move and they will stop at nothing to steal their spell.
Funny and frightening, Dark Tidings is book one of the spellbinding ‘Ancient Magic Meets the Internet’ trilogy.
What do you think about both the opening of chapter 1 and the blurb? Any constructive comments are always gratefully received.