The first scene is what makes or breaks a novel?

I’m stuck, deciding between several starts to my story. I’ve been thinking about this since this year started. I was going to write the book in chronological order… and pass the flame on from father to son, so to speak.

Since the Writer’s Toolkit class we took on plotting a story, it was much more fun to read a a story that started mid-end than one which started from the very beginning.


I’ve thought many scenes, I could start at the end of the book, where my character is explaining his story to someone, close to his death.

The moonlight hit my face as I brushed my hand through my hair. The light hit my eyes and cracked through the darkness that had hid my face so well. I tried to clench my fist, but my hands fell loose. Was I broken? Is it my time? I turned to my left, whilst scratching the field of curls on my chin, and saw a young girl sitting beside me. She must have only been seventeen. She had been following me for the last year; tracking my footsteps through the snowy paths like a wolf following a deer. She had a spark in her eyes that seemed so hopeful it was naive, foolish, how I used to be. She didn’t unsheathe her weapon at the sight of me; she observed me, and watched me like an eagle with a piercing glare. I sat on the cliff’s edge with my feet dangling off the edge, my sword resting behind me. I hadn’t been able to touch it since the day I succumbed to my darkness. Something bubbled up inside me, and though frost covered the area, and even the snot in my nostrils had frozen, tears rolled down my face. I lost more than my mind that day.


So, I could start it like that, and revert back to it when changing scenes to make it seem as though everything is inside the story, thus it doesn’t need to be in order, nor will it be noticeable when changing from scene to scene.

I could start it with a testimony, like a regret from a section of the story he failed in.

“I could see through the crack in the barn. I thought she’d be safe but they found her. I couldn’t do anything. My heart beat raced, but I was burnt out. we had been running all night. I was already wounded. That’s when I heard his voice. It called out to me and made sense. It was like my darkness took shape, and put his hand on my shoulder, understood my pain, and asked me to let him help. I let him.”

Thomas shuddered at the thought, and squeezed his wrist. Sweat seeped through his paws and his eyes were glassy. He looked to the floor, and away from anyone staring at him.

“Something in me changed. When I saw the knife go towards her. I was no longer myself.”

Thomas was shaking. He tried to breathe, and stop it. He tried to bring his body back under his control but he had become weak-minded, unstable, he looked up at the other people in the room and his eyes looked like they changed,

“I killed them all. I enjoyed it, they deserved it, and that’s all there is to it. I committed justice, and nothing else. They done something that was irreversible, unforgivable, and I won’t stop until I’ve removed every single person who has hunted us from this miserable world.”

Thomas grabbed his wrist a second time, and clamped it tightly with the other. He looked scared,

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry everyone. I’m trying to control it. The last person who helped was my father, but he’s not with us anymore… They took him, too.”

Thomas was cutting off the circulation to his hand. The elder in the room bluntly asked,

“What are you going to–”

He was interrupted by a younger woman,

“You can stay with her, and run away, she’s still recovering, but once she’s better, you can go and have your life.”

Thomas could not be persuaded. Traumatized by everything that had happened over the last couple of months, he could offer only one answer,

“I’m going to become the monster they have been seeking. I’m going to kill the King.”

Startled by his decision the elder stood up and distanced himself. The younger woman scrunched her brow, and squeezed the bridge on her nose,

“Fine, run away from her. Go become the monster, but know that she will always love you, and if you walk away now… you’ll never be able to live that down. She needs you.”

Thomas stood up knocking the chair over,

“She doesn’t need me, I can’t protect her. She wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for me, and I have too many demons to have a life with her now. It’s time to end this.”

Thomas slammed the door behind him and walk away.


I can’t decide how to present Thomas to the reader for the first time, as he changes so much throughout the story. It becomes difficult to pinpoint a moment of true change, or his true self. The only other scene I’m thinking of is to place him against his father, as a first defiance. I’m really curious to see how it pans out.

I’m thinking of starting with a first person perspective testimony from Thomas, as if he’s writing memoirs on his journey.


My hands were covered in dried blood. I had been bleeding for the past twelve days, more or less… I’ve fallen unconscious twelve times, anyway. And though my body is covered in enough bandages to hide my skin, I feel the flakes of dried blood prickling my skin. My knuckles are bruised, and I’ve broken three of my fingers. I clench my teeth in an attempt to show my father, and his friends that I am at the end of my wit. Why do this? To your own son? I’m not sure I have untouched skin left. I can feel myself changing…  Is this the madness Katherine talked about? This darkness, reaching for me? I don’t understand why they are pushing me… But here I am, standing in a room, blindfolded, clutching my chest, wheezing, and gasping for air. Will they keep going until I die? I must survive… I must. I can’t let them break me… I need a way out. But I don’t know where the door is…

“Let me show you, let me out.”

I felt my shoulder being pressed down, like death was touching me. Was he taunting me? What is it?

“I will help you. Let me out.”

I want to say yes, but I can’t. What will become of me? What will I do? My head hurts…

“Then let me out!”

I heard the footsteps of a man sprinting towards me. My left…? No, there are stone walls, sound is being echoed. To my right, I heard the wind slice.

“They’re using real swords, let me out!”

The pressing hand turned into a squeeze. My hands moved without my permission. I hit the blade with my fist. It stung, but I didn’t flinch. Was that me? I stepped forward, swung my hands out, and took stance. This is my time to escape. I won’t die here.


Well, that’s three scenes out of seven I was thinking of. What do you guys think? I would love to hear some responses. How does Thomas come across in each scene?


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