Judge’s report from Headline Publishing
Runner-up: The Past is Forever
We were really impressed by this material and thought it made for an intriguing and compelling opening to a novel. The writer has done a brilliant job of honing their pitch, which seemed clear and considered from the synopsis. We found ourselves being pulled into the narrative from page one and really enjoyed losing ourselves in the setting, which was wonderfully familiar and yet, at the same time, the sample felt fresh in its execution. Matthew is established as a really confident central character, with a fascinating backstory, and we were interested to read in the synopsis how the author plans to develop this later in the book – how they plan to use it to drive the plot. Overall, we thought this was a very fun read with an assured setup that made us eager to know what was going to happen next. Congratulations to the author!
The Past is Forever
We thought this entry showed promise and have, therefore, chosen this as the runner-up. The prologue felt enticing and the synopsis was clear and straightforward, which shows that the author has outlined the plot well. We were drawn in by their characterisations in the material and the narrative voice in the opening. They’ve also done a good job of establishing the setting in this sample and we would encourage them to continue to use it as a way of anchoring the book and creating a real sense of place as it’ll add to the atmosphere they’ve started to build. Whilst the team thought that the premise was original – the idea of a man feeling he owes a debt to another man accused of murder years before – we felt that the denouement may not provide enough of a twist and surprise as it stands, and would suggest that the writer focus their attention on honing this to make it as compelling as possible.