10.23.2006

Run up to the crapometer- hook examples 3

Meet Dexter, a polite wolf in sheep's clothing... a monster who cringes at the sight of blood...a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: He only kills bad people.

Dexter Morgan isn't exactly the kind of man you'd bring home to Mom. Though he's playful and has a wonderfully ironic sense of humor, Dexter's one character flaw (his proclivity for murder) can be off -putting. But at heart Dexter is the perfect gentlemen, supportive of his sister, Deb, a Miami cop, and interested in doing away with people who really deserve his special visit. Dex is quite good-looking but totally indifferent to (and, frankly a bit puzzled by) the attentions paid to him by women. Despite the fact that he can't stand the sight of blood, he works as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police department, a job that allows him to keep tabs on the latest crimes and keep an eye open for his next quarry.

Dexter's well-organized life is suddenly disrupted when a second, much more visible serial killer appears in Miami. Dex is intrigued, even delighted, by the fact that the other killer appears to have a style reminiscent of his own. Yet he can't help but feel that the mysterious new arrival is not merely invading his turf but reaching out to him as well. This new killer seems to be doing more than copying Dexter -- he seems to be saying "Come out and play." Dexter's secret life makes for a lonely existence...even a lovable monster can be intrigued by the prospect of finding a friend.


Flap copy: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

46 comments:

Rashenbo said...

I've watched Dexter on showtime and his character on tv seems excited, enraptured, passionate about blood. I never got the feeling he couldn't stand the sight of it. I wonder at such a change from the flap description and then the difference in TV land.

Always interesting (usually frustrating) to see how things change when they end up on tv.

writtenwyrdd said...

I hate to say it, but this sounds like that new tv show Dexter, with the serial killer, blood-spatter analyst who has a sister (named Deb, I think) in the Miami pd.

It's a good blurb, though.

Nancy said...

That's because the new Showtime series is based on the book.

Miss Snark said...

the show is based on the books.
this is from the book.

Brat said...

I saw these books in the bookstore the other day and thought "I wish I'd thought of that." The only thing that kept me from buying was that it was larger print and only 250 pages.

writtenwyrdd said...

Just award me the Nitwit of the Day award... I'm off for more coffee now. I think I need it...

word veri: csnff - dog sneeze

No Name said...

GACK!

Check this pic out Miss Snark

Kind of takes your guy off the pedastal as it were


http://www.laineygossip.com/ArticleList.aspx?ID=4887

Eric said...

I'm torn on this one.

The premise is great, and I would be compelled to read the first chapter, (actually, I did, just last week) but I do find this hook a bit...lacking.

"...wolf in sheep's clothing." Cliche.
Telling me he is "immensely likeable." Well, now you're telling the reader how they're going to feel?
That Dex can't stand "the sight of blood" is mentioned twice...so much for being tight.

I guess it's not terrible. But I'd think it could be better.

Does that make me a nitpick or a nitwit?

Anonymous said...

Majority of the comparisons I've read we're positive but you can watch 2 episodes for free online and see for yourself. Here is the link:
http://www.sho.com/site/dexter/sneakpeek/home.do?soucre=dexter_ep1and2_blogs

Anonymous said...

Bearing in mind I'm in the Uk and we don't have this show and I've never heard of the books... this sounds like a load of rubbish to me. A blood-splatter technician who can't stand the sight of blood. Yeah, right.

Sandra UK

Mig said...

I'm in the middle of reading this one, and it is a delightfully witty book.

~Nancy said...

I'd never heard of the books or TV show, and I live in the States.

Of course, I don't have Showtime, but the books...well, I'm kind of hooked into fantasy, with only the occasional dalliance into mysteries (the fun type, like the Stephanie Plum series).

~JerseyGirl

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of this, either. But the flap copy conveys a likeable, comic character. The book sounds fun - I'd read it.

Mrs. Brain Bomb said...

I saw the pilot episode of the show based on the book. It was strangely fascinating. The guy is a great character. You want to like him but you don't want to empathize with a killer. there were a few wtf moments.

ORION said...

I LOVED the book (darkly dreaming dexter). Wonderfully flowing prose. I studied it for how the author makes a repellant character sympathetic. He does a flawless job there.
A very unique premise. I think it is a great example of taking an over-used scenario (serial killer) and making it new.
There is much to learn here for me even thought I don't write mysteries.

Kim said...

I've heard of both, but have seen neither. I think the premise sounds almost like a comedy, but I don't think it's supposed to be. If it weren't for the fact that my to be read pile is taller than me, I'm up to my eyes in my current WIP, and I don't have Showtime, I might look into either one or the other. I think it sounds original since the hero and the villian are kind of the same (i assume) and how do you hate a killer when he's killing other killers? Good conflict, no?

Still, I guess I'll add it to the list. Why not?

Kristi said...

Off-putting? As in, "I don't like that guy. He's off-putting."

Maybe I should look at my own tax-syn.

Jpatrick said...

All I can say is "no".

I can't quantify it, but there's a cringe factor here. Perhaps it's as if Dexter's creator assembled a few disparate ideas to create a character who is a charicature.

Madeline F said...

I find this hook very meh. Could be because I'm not really interested in the premise... (Are we ever going to get him killing a good person by mistake, or by self-delusion in service of his insanity? I suspect not, alas.)

Still, I think the entire second paragraph is symptomatic of the hook's problems. Every sentence uses commas like wedges to jam in more stuff about the character, but none of it really goes together (would I bring a "playful" guy home to meet Mom? Not really), and there's no time devoted to following it out to some interesting conclusion.

I'd say it'd make a better hook if there was just the third paragraph with just a bare necessary word or sentence from the first two paragraphs.

Anonymous said...

Meet Dexter, a polite wolf in sheep's clothing... a monster who cringes at the sight of blood...a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: He only kills bad people.

About a year ago I was browsing the mystery section of my local Borders and came upon "Darkly Dreaming Dexter." The title made me pull it off the shelf and the blurb made me flip open the book and scan a few pages. It came home with me.

It's a great book. And I think Showtime is doing a great job of translating it to television. As someone else mentioned, making a serial killer likeable and sympathetic is no mean feat. Bravo to Jeff Lindsey.

nir said...

"Immensely likeable" serial killer? Um, no. Lost me on the first paragraph.

Jocasta said...

"He only kills bad people."

Just wondering how he or anyone else can decide what makes a person "bad"... For some people, having sex before having exchanged vows turns you into a "bad" person. Guess I could be a target then... Will sleep with a knife under my pillow from now on.

Kate Thornton said...

It's a super book - and there's a second one out now, too - Dearly Devoted Dexter.

Maybe not for everyone - but I find it quite good.

I haven't seen the TV show yet, though.

CarrieMonster said...

This seems like the mild-mannered version of Boondock Saints.

Aside: mmm blood spattered Irish boys!

This also seems like what Dexter from Dexter's Lab on Cartoon Network would grow up into (although it's hard to see sister Deedee as a cop).

Termagant 2 said...

Ewww. If I turned this in as a premise, I think I'd get an instant "no-thanks." For one thing, his job vis-a-vis his revulstion for blood makes this a non-starter for me. That'd be like saying, "Julie Trueheart, an ICU nurse who can't stand the smell of body fluids..."

Uh-uh. Flap copy notwithstanding. It may describe the novel accurately, despite the apparent contradictions, but it's sure put me off.

Won't watch the show, neither.

T2

Anonymous said...

I think it sounds briliantly clever. I'd pick the book up. In fact, I think I will.

word verif: yotlwo- what the cats did out side my window all freakin night

Anonymous said...

Dang. Wish he'd queried us. I love the sounds of it.

spyscribbler said...

The book is really not to be missed. I often catch myself writing the inane phrases, "her mouth dropped open in shock." You know, that doesn't happen that often in real life.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter (the book) made my mouth drop open in shock. It made me laugh, and it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

The book affected me like none has in years. It was very finely crafted, and the alliteration is eerily perfect. Definitely, give it a read!

Talentless said...

This does not grab. It does not tell me what sort of book I'm getting, horror, humour or mystery, it all sounds a bit ridiculous and most importantly for something not obvious the 'voice' does not hook me.

Anonymous said...

Great repellent/attraction here, like watching a lion run down a wildebeast. Morbid fascination? Uh-huh. I think the book flap copy is great. I must disagree with above who disliked "wolf in sheep's clothing" because it's a cliche. In the first place, Dexter sounds like the ultimate definition of this cliche. In the second place, cliches can work very well in blurbs (and other forms of advertising) because (being cliches) they deliver immediate meaning to a large group of people. What an excercise it must have been for the author to put himself in this guy's shoes. Unless it wasn't an excercise for him at all. Then he's scary.

Talia Mana, Centre for Emotional Well-Being said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

A real premise for a real book. I wouldn't have believed it, except for the link to the real book.

This synopsis does not entice me to buy the book. It makes the novel sound over-the-top and cliched.

It may be a fun and entertaining read but I would never find out because I would immmediately return it to the shelf after reading this.

As a reader, I would need a stronger, more plausible but at the same time unexpected hook to draw me in.

Grimly Growling Grendel's Dam said...

Sure makes me want to read it. Or at least darkly dream about it. But wait! Didn't a certain Miss Snark tell us, "No alliteration, ever?"

Anonymous said...

carriemonster.... I never knew how sexy an Irish accent could be until I saw those brothers in Boondock Saints...

Double mmm.....

Eviltwin said...

Sometimes when I'm reviewing a book, a cliche is the only way I can convey what I need to convey in the space I have. In this case, the cliche really applies!

I agree too that it's best to avoid telling readers your character is "likeable", but if you're expecting readers to sympathize with a serial killer you kinda have to mention he's likeable!

Nitpicks and personal taste aside, I think the point of all these hook examples is to show how someone took a novel, picked out the important bits, arranged them in a logical order, and explained them as briefly as possible. Without boring us to tears. This is what's so hard about hooks- so many writers seem to have trouble knowing what elements of their plot we need to know about if they're trying to pique our interest. It's the happy medium between "my female protagonist overcomes many obstacles on her way to love" and "my 43-year-old anthropology professor who has a contentious relationship with her sister Sally because she took Grandma's silver and who goes to Italy to learn to make pasta but first she has a conversation with blah blah blah..."

Brady Westwater said...

I really, seriously dislike the writing, but the last graph would get me to pick up the book and thumb a few pages to see if the novel was any better written.

Mtanz said...

The blurb did it's job -- I'm swinging by the library tomorrow to pick up a copy.

Talia Mana, Centre for Emotional Well-Being said...

Oops! typo. I said the book was a 4 star, I meant to say it was a 3 star - an average but not fantastic read LOL

whitemouse said...

mtanz:

You might be disappointed. I had to put it on hold at my library tonight; no copies available.

It must be a good book. I'm eighth on their list. :-(

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't know Dexter if he came up and bit me on the anatomy and having read that bit of tosh, I won't be waiting with baited breath. What's he trying to be? The Robin Hood of murderers?

Diana Peterfreund said...

Thank you, Eviltwin! It's interesting to see the variety of responses. Of course, not every person is going to love every book or premise. that's why people get rejections saying, "I just dind't love this, but another agent might."

Stacy said...

I agree that Dexter is not everyone's cup of tea, but it is most certainly not a load of rubbish.

(climbs up on soapbox)

What bothers me about some of the comments in this thread is the inability to recognize a good idea, simply because it is not to your taste. This automatically puts one's ability to recognize good writing in question. I mean, if you don't like something, it must be rubbish? (makes rude noise and gets off soapbox)

Mtanz said...

Thanks Whitemouse! I just called my local library and they're holding it for me. Fortunately, I'm in all the time, so they're willing to accomodate me. :) Librarians are the greatest! And while I'm thinking about it, this also relates to Miss Snark's other posting about being nice to staff. I'm always shocked how nasty people can get with librarians.

srchamberlain said...

a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: He only kills bad people.

Isn't this more or less the premise of "Seven"? I didn't find that character particularly likeable, let alone immensely so. As someone pointed out, this rather depends upon what constitutes "sin."

What's with all of the premises of these oldish movies getting turned into television series? The other day, I saw a trailer for something that looked exactly like "Groundhog Day."

magz said...

Amen Stacey! Is there room for another on your soapbox?

This comment thread is the reason I have a very complex love/WTF relationship with ALL the cyberspace writerly places I frequent.
Different strokes for different folks. People, this is fiction! Fik Shun! Made up tales from imaginative minds, some just like yours and some totally different! Yes, it's a popularity contest with published sales being the grand prize.. but if you dont like it, DONT READ IT, and dont buy it.
'It's not my genre' is not a critique of writing skills. 'This grosses me out' doesnt offer an author much to learn from. Your opinions are your very very own and precious to you I'm sure, but they've never changed one iota of anything I've ever done.

Your critiques have. Honest helpful KNOWLEDGABLE eyes who shared their views with me have helped me immensely, where threads like this one remind me muchly of my own farmyard.. just bursting with aimless quacking, skwakking and gobbling.

And yes, I've been Snarked as a Nitwit. I've been Crapped on at Electra's place, redpencil slapped by Evil Editor, and am ashamed to admit lashed out once or twice at others. (It was the Drink, I swear.. that blurred my own convictions between the reality of critique, and the sting of someone's disagreeing opinion.I apologize, really)

I know most of you covet a slot on the bestseller list, I wouldnt turn it down either! It just seems to me that any or all of us will get there eventually by remembering Miss Snark's immortal words: Write Well! Just Write! Save your strong opinions for your own stuff, then sit back and enjoy how every single person who buys/reads your book agrees with it! Genious!
How many of you are doing NaNoWriMo this year? You still have time to sign up, and it's certainly a wonderful way to opine hehe. Regards, Magz

Anonymous said...

Magz and Stacey:

Double standards drive me nuts. Illogical arguements applied inconsistently also drive me nuts.

You have done both.

You like the premise.

Others take issue.

It seems to me that both of you have serious issues with critique and critics.

It is a competitive world. Get over it.

Only in public school does self esteem trump all.